Science on the map

Mapping genetic interactions is old hat, but now scientists are mapping science itself, and looked to see how it's been changing. According to the results of a mathematical model, neuroscience, for example, has only evolved into a mature scientific discipline, like molecular biology and medicine, in the last decade, according to linkurl:the study published online today;http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008694 (January 28) in PLoS ONE. A set of scientific fields t

By | January 28, 2010

Mapping genetic interactions is old hat, but now scientists are mapping science itself, and looked to see how it's been changing. According to the results of a mathematical model, neuroscience, for example, has only evolved into a mature scientific discipline, like molecular biology and medicine, in the last decade, according to linkurl:the study published online today;http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008694 (January 28) in PLoS ONE.
A set of scientific fields that shows the major shifts in the last decade of science.
All journals that are clustered in the field of neuroscience in 2007
are colored to highlight the fusion and formation of neuroscience.
To see the full size image, click linkurl:here.;http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/media/19806.JPG

Image: Figure 3 from linkurl:PLoS ONE doi:10.1371,;http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0008694
Martin Rosvall and Carl T. Bergstrom
While scientists have developed tools for understanding the complexity of biological systems, mapping how these systems change over time has proven a much more difficult task. Specifically, without identifying the statistical noise in a data set, real trends can get lost and false trends can be fabricated. Now, linkurl:Martin Rosvall;http://www.tp.umu.se/%7Erosvall/ of Umeå University in Sweden and linkurl:Carl Bergstrom;http://octavia.zoology.washington.edu/ of the University of Washington present a new mathematical technique to tackle this problem. Rather than applying it to a biological system, though, they investigate a more meta-problem. Running more than 35 million citations of articles from over 7000 scientific journals through their model, they create a map of how science has changed over the last 10 years. "This network of citations represents the flow of information between researchers in the world and the results show that significant changes have occurred in the life sciences," Rosvall said linkurl:in a press release.;http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-01/plos-smc012710.php Specifically, "neuroscience has gone from being an interdisciplinary research area to being a scientific discipline in its own right." The researchers suggest that their technique could be used to map changes in other complex networks, from biological and social systems to air traffic and financial market patterns.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Cancer gene map online;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/20040927/01/
[27th September 2004]*linkurl:NCI, Cray Blaze Through Genome Map;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/12543/
[20th August 2001]*linkurl:Genome Mapping;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/16945/
[18th March 1996]

Comments

Avatar of: Caroline Wagner

Caroline Wagner

Posts: 2

January 28, 2010

This kind of bibliometric mapping has been done for years. Hard to believe they put out a press release tp announce their paper...
Avatar of: Douglas Easton

Douglas Easton

Posts: 32

January 28, 2010

I don't really think that the point of developing the math was citation analysis. The paper just brings the power of the technique to the attention to workers in other fields. I presume that math itself is novel.\n\n
Avatar of: Lev Goldfarb

Lev Goldfarb

Posts: 4

January 29, 2010

The original citation (from Press release from PLoS ONE) by Martin Rosvall that they "were able to track how the field [neuroscience] evolved from an interdisciplinary specialty to a full fledged scholarly discipline" says it all.\n\nBut in all fairness, one should keep in mind that, as a young scientist, he is simply *following* the recently developed 'tradition' of adding, to put it mildly, inappropriate comments to simple statistical results.

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