The New Science of Science

We recently had the opportunity to attend the first “International Symposium on the Science of Science” in Washington, D.C., learning more about collaborating at scale with the scientific enterprise.

“A new ‘science of science’ has emerged. It is young, big, brash and disruptive. And it is largely powered by the Web of Science™.”

What exactly is science of science?
Science of science is an emerging interdisciplinary research field, advancing the scientific basis of science and innovation policy with a data-driven, network-oriented approach. The term, “science of science”, has been around for a number of years. The Office of Science Technology Policy created a large-scale “science of science policy” initiative during the Bush administration and the NIH, NSF, and OSTP launched the STAR Metrics program to carry forward systematic analysis of funded science projects. Similar to other fields, science of science is evolving and growing.

The new science of science
The new “science of science” showcased at the Symposium focuses on large-scale trends and is informed by the theory and mathematics of complex networks. At this “macro” level, researchers may analyze millions of records to study how scientists select “hot spots” for research, or how they miss opportunities by adopting risk-averse investigative strategies. The majority of the presenters used Web of Science as their foundational data set.These studies tend to be exciting, often breathtaking in scope, and buttressed with highly sophisticated mathematics.

Our products already benefit from these new approaches. The Eigenfactor™, now included as one of our journal metrics, is an exemplary result of our collaboration with University of Washington researchers who are building the new “science of science”. We can expect to realize many more innovations as we and our collaborators explore ways in which the Web of Science can continue to power this new field.