What can bibliometrics tell us about changes in the mode of knowledge production?

Martin, Ben R (2011) What can bibliometrics tell us about changes in the mode of knowledge production? Prometheus, 29 (4). pp. 455-479.

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One of the most influential contributions to the fields of science policy research and science and technology studies during the last 20 years was the 1994 book by Gibbons et al. on The New Production of Knowledge (NPK). In this, the authors argued that over recent decades a different form of knowledge production has emerged, one which they termed 'Mode 2'. In this, knowledge is produced 'in the context of application', generally on the basis of transdisciplinary research efforts, by a heterogeneous range of institutional actors, who are subject to wider social accountability and more diverse forms of quality control than in the traditional 'Mode 1' knowledge production. Although there have since been a number of attempts to examine the claims of NPK empirically, the evidence is, at best, rather ambiguous. The study reported here analyses highly cited publications in the field of bibliometric research to establish whether the themes of those publications, and more specifically the changes in those themes over the last 20 years, provide any evidence of a growing incidence of Mode 2 knowledge production. The paper concludes that there is some evidence that bibliometrics, as a field of research, has exhibited a shift towards Mode 2 knowledge production over last two decades. In addition, it would seem to have played a part in a similar shift across science more generally, offering policy-relevant tools and analyses, helping scientific research to respond to increased demands for accountability, and contributing to changes in the approach to the quality assessment of research. At the same time, and perhaps inadvertently, it may have contributed to bringing about changes in publication and citation practices as more and more authors seek to maximise their 'score' on one or more bibliometric indicators.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Ben Martin
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:22
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2012 13:11
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25658
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