Chair Scientometrics

Paul Wouters holds the chair of Scientometrics at CWTS. The chair furthers the theoretical understanding of the role and construction of science and technology indicators. The main focus is on (folk) theories of scientific quality, on citation and communication theories and models, on open science, and on the implications of the evaluation and citation culture for the process of knowledge generation and circulation.

Research topics

The last couple of decades have seen an unprecedented growth of evaluation institutions and procedures in scientific and scholarly research. Bibliometrics has played an important role in stimulating the use of performance indicators and the current demand for research assessment reports can indeed be seen as a measure of success for the field. At the same time, this creates a new challenge: to counter abuse and misunderstanding of indicators. We aim to contribute to this by providing state of the art professional information to indicator users and by a deeper understanding of the role of evaluation in the scienticic and scholarly system.

In the chair three topics will be studied: the history and theory of citation and of performance indicators more generally; the implications of evaluation for knowledge creation as a social process; and the emergence of open science as a new paradigm in public policy.

The field of scientometrics has discussed and explored the meaning of the citation from the very beginning of citation analysis. The question of the meaning of the citation was already tackled by students of the American historian and sociologist Robert Merton in the 1960s, and although many approaches have since been developed (with varying results) the question of the meaning of the citation is still relevant. This debate is a specific example of the more general debate about the meaning of various types of indicators, such as altmetrics and download data in the context of the evaluation of the quality and influence of research. Research and teaching in the chair aims to contribute to the further development of indicator theories in the context of an understanding of the evaluation society more generally. The family of theories of material semiotics serves as a particularly inspiring theoretical framework.

This is intimately related to the second topic: the analysis of the interaction between evaluation practices and knowledge generation. In the framework of the Science and Evaluation Studies group, the chair will focus on the theoretical interpretation of fieldwork on evaluation practices in science and scholarship. Research in the chair will focus on the question of how scientific quality is generated in the interaction between researchers and evaluators at the nexus between academia and science policy. This includes the question of how scientific quality and societal impact relate to each other. The chair also aims to inform the work in the Quantitative Science Studies group and the development of responsible metrics practices.

The third research topic is the transition in the scientific system from a relatively closed profession-based system to a more open innovation system, in which the university increasingly functions as a network node in a more general innovation system. This transition calls into question how science and scholarship are organized, how scholarly careers can develop in relation to academia and society, and how open science can be organized in various disciplines.

Intimately connected to these research topics is the further development of teaching in science and technology studies at Leiden University and the LDE partners Erasmus University Rotterdam and Delft University of Technology.

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Contact

For more information about the chair of Scientometrics, please contact Paul Wouters.

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