Mapping the Social Sciences Landscape: A Way Forward

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Social Science Research Landscape – Past, Present, and Future Outlook

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Pendlebury, David A.
Library and Information Science
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conference paper description
The use of bibliometric data for the analysis of research performance in the social sciences presents significant challenges, especially in some fields whose publication patterns differ markedly from the sciences. For example, the book literature is a more important vehicle for scholarly communication in many social sciences fields than it is in the sciences and, therefore, should not be excluded from examination. A brief review of this and other issues will be presented as well as those that affect attempts to map research activity in the social sciences. Mapping the specialty and higher-level structure of scholarly research and detecting changes over time – initiated by ISI (now Thomson Reuters) 40 years ago -- has emerged in the last decade as a priority, particularly in the context of science policy and planning. Government agencies, other funders, university administrators, and business executives at science-oriented firms want to monitor and understand recent trends and important new developments in the research landscape to ensure that they are focusing on topics relevant to their missions. Spotting key institutional and individual players in a specialty can suggest strategies for focused funding, collaboration, and even recruitment. Several maps of social sciences research, employing different methods and visualizations, will be reviewed, including some new ones fashioned to reveal Singapore’s recent activities and specific areas of concentration. In conclusion, a few comments will be offered on the uses and limitations of science maps for practical policy-making and planning.