Citation analysis and mapping of nanoscience and nanotechnology: identifying the scope and interdisciplinarity of research

Stopar K, Drobne D, Eler K, Bartol T
[ site ] Scientometrics, 2016

Diversification and fragmentation of scientific exploration brings an increasing need for integration, for example through interdisciplinary research. The field of nanoscience and nanotechnology appears to exhibit strong interdisciplinary characteristics. Our objective was to explore the structure of the field and ascertain how different research areas within this field reflect interdisciplinarity through citation patterns. The complex relations between the citing and cited articles were examined through schematic visualization. Examination of WOS categories assigned to journals shows the scatter of nano studies across a wide range of research topics. We identified four distinctive groups of categories each showing some detectable shared characteristics. Three alternative measures of similarity were employed to delineate these groups. These distinct groups enabled us to assess interdisciplinarity within the groups and relationships between the groups. Some measurable levels of interdisciplinarity exist in all groups. However, one of the groups indicated that certain categories of both citing as well as cited articles aggregate mostly in the framework of physics, chemistry, and materials. This may suggest that the nanosciences show characteristics of a distinct discipline. The similarity in citing articles is most evident inside the respective groups, though, some subgroups within larger groups are also related to each other through the similarity of cited articles.