Counting beans

As a companion to my ramblings on scientific publishing (more to come soon, I swear!), I’ve found some interesting attempts at looking at how different fields of study are related, some by examining referencing and click-throughs from journal articles, others from looking at the amount of publishing in the various fields.

The first example is from PLoS ONE (found via Scatterplot), an online open-access journal trying to collect open, peer reviewed academic publishing. One article had analyzed 1 billion online article readings, and made a graphical representation of it:

Some scientific fields connected. Click for larger view

Some scientific fields connected. Click for larger view

One example of the second is a 2005 article in Scientometrics, which simply counts up the number of publications within a given field and tries to make a point regarding what the most active fields are, actually going a far as to calling it the “marrow” of science. Not surprisingly, fields such as biochemistry and other biological subfields dominate:

Numbers of thousand articles within different scientific fields. Click for larger view

Numbers of thousand articles within different scientific fields. Click for larger view

A lot can be said about the methodology (how do you define a field, what journals are counted and not, how do you measure relative importance and so on and so on), and there’s definitely a “so what?” aspect to all this counting, but I still think it’s fascinating stuff.

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