Mapping the changing centrality of physicists (1900–1944)

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This paper contributes to historical bibliometrics in proposing to apply social networks methodology and the concept of centrality to co-citation networks. Using the case of physics for the period 1900-1944 we show that measuring the centrality of authors in co-citation networks provides a useful index of the evolution of a scientific field (in this case physics) and the changing focus of research over time. We divided the 45-year period into seven sub-periods related to major events in physics and calculated the centrality of actors present in the co-citation network for each of these periods. The results obtained reflect the major changes in the disciplines: we see the evolving rise and decline in centrality of major physicists like H.A. Lorentz, A. Einstein, N. Bohr, E. Ruherford as well as others less known figures as the "hot" topics move from black body and electron theory to relativity and spectroscopy and from quantum mechanics to nuclear physics.

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... Several specific profiles of scientists can explain this behaviour. In our network (Fig. 2), for instance, Johannes Stark (at the bottom-right of the figure) was previously found to have the third highest degree centrality of all physicists during this period (Gingras, 2007), but because of having published in a wide variety of specialties, he finds himself in a small community (with B. Walter). ...
... In order to perform a more stringent test of the algorithm, we have used networks of much greater complexity, usually composed of the most cited authors in a large subset of science. We have analyzed, for instance, the field of biology (1953-70), physics (1900-1944) (Gingras, 2007), as well as physics, mathematics and chemistry combined (1905-1911 and 1937-1944) and have obtained meaningful and consistent results for each one. Perhaps one of the most "difficult" networks -due to the (presumed) presence of scientific specialties despite a very "close-knit" community as a whole -is that of physics (1905)(1906)(1907)(1908)(1909)(1910)(1911). ...
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We use a technique recently developed by Blondel et al. (2008) in order to detect scientific specialties from author cocitation networks. This algorithm has distinct advantages over most of the previous methods used to obtain cocitation "clusters", since it avoids the use of similarity measures, relies entirely on the topology of the weighted network and can be applied to relatively large networks. Most importantly, it requires no subjective interpretation of the cocitation data or of the communities found. Using two examples, we show that the resulting specialties are the smallest coherent "group" of researchers (within a hierarchy of cluster sizes) and can thus be identified unambiguously. Furthermore, we confirm that these communities are indeed representative of what we know about the structure of a given scientific discipline and that, as specialties, they can be accurately characterized by a few keywords (from the publication titles). We argue that this robust and efficient algorithm is particularly well-suited to cocitation networks, and that the results generated can be of great use to researchers studying various facets of the structure and evolution of science.
... Här handlar det även om att kommunicera utåt och att skapa intresse för gruppens arbete. I en senare studie har Gingras (2007) följt upp sina resultat genom att undersöka hur fysikforskarna inom det vetenskapliga fältet refererar till varandra, och på vilket sätt detta skapar förtätningar. Refererandet skapar anknytning till ett större eller mindre antal andra forskare. ...
... The two measures of a scientists' importance are distinct although highly correlated: the more citations an author receives, the more chance he has of becoming "central" in the network of co-citations. It terms of co-citations, one can interpret centrality as a measure of an author's position in the discipline's network [Gingras, 2007]. Using rankings instead of absolute numbers allows us to have a time invariant measure of the most influential scientists in a given year. ...
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We propose a comprehensive bibliometric study of the profile of Nobel prizewinners in chemistry and physics from 1901 to 2007, based on citation data available over the same period. The data allows us to observe the evolution of the profiles of winners in the years leading up to (and following) nominations and awarding of the Nobel Prize. The degree centrality and citation rankings in these fields confirm that the Prize is awarded at the peak of the winners' careers, despite brief a Halo Effect observable in the years following the attribution of the Prize. Changes in the size and organization of the two fields result in a rapid decline of predictive power of bibliometric data over the century. This can be explained not only by the growing size and fragmentation of the two disciplines, but also, at least in the case of physics, by an implicit hierarchy in the most legitimate topics within the discipline, as well as among the scientists selected for the Prize. Furthermore, the lack of readily-identifiable dominant contemporary physicists suggests that there are few new paradigm shifts within the field, as perceived by the scientific community as a whole.
State patronage and the role of central government in modernization are often cited as the key factors that underpin the development of science in Russia. This paper argues that the development of Russian agricultural science had predominantly local and non-governmental sources of support. Historically Russian agricultural research was funded and promoted through private patronage, but from the middle of the 19th century agricultural societies and community administrations began to sponsor research and promotion of new ideas in the agricultural sector. At the end of the 19th century the majority of initiatives to set up agricultural experiment stations were undertaken on behalf of provincial agricultural societies, supported by local community administrations independent of the state bureaucratic apparatus (zemstvos). During the last two decades of the Russian Empire, agricultural societies and zemstvos became leaders in the modernization of Russian agriculture. Establishing regional experiment stations, and thus promoting development of local knowledge, they provided models for the subsequent governmental activity in this field. In the case of supporting agricultural research and institutionalizing the new discipline of scientific plant breeding, the Russian public led the state, rather than the reverse.
Social Network Analysis — ‘‘A French Touch’’? Looking Back on the CNRS Summer School « Social Networks — Issues, Methods and Outlooks », Cargèse (Corsica), 15—20 September 2008: This summer school was intended to present social network analysis and its recent developments to a French-speaking public. It was also the opportunity to take stock of work in this area by French and, more generally, French-speaking researchers. The article covers the presentations that were made on this occasion and attempts to identify what may be the specific nature of this work, which seems to be associated with a particular attention to theoretical and epistemological reflexivity.
Historians of science have analyzed in detail the conceptual transformations that gave physics its modern character in the first half of the twentieth century. Rarely provided in these narratives, however, is a feeling for the global scene of the physics community. How many publishing physicists were there around 1900? How many in 1925 or 1939? Did most physicists publish as single authors or in teams, and how did they compare with chemists or mathematicians in terms of scientific collaborations? What are the links between these disciplines? I propose to undertake such a global analysis of the trends that can be captured through a bibliometric analysis of hundreds of thousands of scientific papers and the more than onemillion references in them. KeywordsBibliometrics-co-citation networks-history of physics 1900–1945
The object of this paper is two-fold: first, to show that contrary to what seem to have become a widely accepted view among historians of biology, the famous 1953 first Nature paper of Watson and Crick on the structure of DNA was widely cited--as compared to the average paper of the time--on a continuous basis from the very year of its publication and over the period 1953-1970 and that the citations came from a wide array of scientific journals. A systematic analysis of the bibliometric data thus shows that Watson's and Crick's paper did in fact have immediate and long term impact if we define "impact" in terms of comparative citations with other papers of the time. In this precise sense it did not fall into "relative oblivion" in the scientific community. The second aim of this paper is to show, using the case of the reception of the Watson-Crick and Jacob-Monod papers as concrete examples, how large scale bibliometric data can be used in a sophisticated manner to provide information about the dynamic of the scientific field as a whole instead of limiting the analysis to a few major actors and generalizing the result to the whole community without further ado.
The intuitive background for measures of structural centrality in social networks is reviewed and existing measures are evaluated in terms of their consistency with intuitions and their interpretability.
The intuitive background for measures of structural centrality in social networks is reviewed and existing measures are evaluated in terms of their consistency with intuitions and their interpretability.Three distinct intuitive conceptions of centrality are uncovered and existing measures are refined to embody these conceptions. Three measures are developed for each concept, one absolute and one relative measure of the centrality of positions in a network, and one reflecting the degree of centralization of the entire network. The implications of these measures for the experimental study of small groups is examined.
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