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1.5 Coevolution of Field and Institute: The Institutionalization of Bibliometric Research Illustrated by the Emergence and Flourishing of the CWTS

From the book Handbook Bibliometrics

  • A. F.J. van Raan


The quantitative study of science is mostly referred to as scientometrics. Within scientometrics, the research on scientific communication, particularly with data from publications, patents, citations, and journals, is called bibliometrics. The development of a new field of science as an “accepted” field within the academic community goes hand in hand with the rise and flourishing of institutes that shape the new field. In this chapter we illustrate this type of coevolution by a brief outline of the history and institutionalization of scientometric and particularly bibliometric research by one of the world’s pioneering institutes, the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) at Leiden University. We highlight the origin of the field, its institutionalization, the acceptance of the field within a critical academic community, the fate and fortunes of the new institute, the interplay of chance and seizing opportunities, the role of practical applications as the driving force of the development of the field, the crucial support of both public (university, ministries, research councils) and private companies, and especially of key figures who acted as champions for the promotion of the careful application of bibliometrics. The CWTS case tells of the successful synergy of pioneering work, the inspiring dynamics of bibliometrics as an internationally emerging interdisciplinary field, applications, theoretical underpinning, education, and commercialization.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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