Quantitative and Qualitative STS: The Intellectual and Practical Contributions of Scientometrics

35 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2015 Last revised: 13 Jan 2016

Sally Wyatt

Maastricht University

Staša Milojević

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Informatics and Computing

Han Woo Park

Yeungnam University

Loet Leydesdorff

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR)

Date Written: December 18, 2015

Abstract

We provide an overview of the common origins of qualitative and quantitative forms of STS, offering a discursive account of this history. We then demonstrate how scientometric techniques can be used to address substantive research questions, and we provide examples relevant both to the origins of STS and its state of the art. Our purpose is not to provide an exhaustive review of either qualitative or quantitative methods, as there exist many methods textbooks for both (e.g. Moed et al. 2004; Franklin 2012), although contemporary STS has tended to neglect methods. The final substantive section picks up the themes of “big data” and “reflexivity”, and also provides some reflection on the current use of indicators.

We argue for greater conciliation between qualitative and quantitative methods within STS, broadly defined. We suggest that such collaboration, by enriching the repertoire of methods available to STS scholars, provides opportunities for exploring new and old research questions. There are also two more pragmatic reasons for this plea for further integration of quantitative and qualitative approaches in STS. The first is the growing attention for “big data”, computational methods, and digital forms of representation of data and knowledge in the humanities and the social sciences (Mayer-Schonberger and Cukier 2013; Borgman 2015). The second reason, especially for those STS scholars based in the academy, is that a deeper understanding of scientometrics is necessary for making sense of and for formulating informed criticism about university rankings, evaluations and the audit culture within which academics work (Dahler-Larsen 2011; Hicks et al. 2015 (also known as ‘Leiden Manifesto’); Halffman and Radder 2015; Strathern 2000).

Keywords: STS, science studies, scientometrics, citation, Merton

Suggested Citation

Wyatt, Sally and Milojević, Staša and Park, Han Woo and Leydesdorff, Loet, Quantitative and Qualitative STS: The Intellectual and Practical Contributions of Scientometrics (December 18, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2588336 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2588336

Sally Wyatt (Contact Author)

Maastricht University ( email )

P.O. Box 616
Maastricht, 6200 MD
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://ehumanities.nl

Staša Milojević

Indiana University Bloomington - School of Informatics and Computing ( email )

901 E 10th St
Bloomington, IN 47401
United States

Han Woo Park

Yeungnam University ( email )

Kyongsan, 712-749
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Loet Leydesdorff

University of Amsterdam - Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) ( email )

PO Box 15793
Amsterdam, 1001 NG
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://www.leydesdorff.net

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