Outsider, Peers, and Stars: Analysing Scientists' Integration into Scientific Communities with Scientometric Indicators

by Grit Laudel / Jochen Gläser


After German Unification, several science policy instruments have been set up which were aimed to promote East German scientists' integration into their national and international scientific communities. In order to evaluate these institutions' effects it was necessary to develop both a conceptual scheme and empirical methods for the investigation of scientists' integration into scientific communities.
'Integration' is assumed to have a cognitive and a social dimension. The cognitive dimension describes a scientist's position in the collective knowledge production of his or her community. The social dimension relates to a scientist's reputation, his or her position regarding in informal networks and his involvement in a scientific community's decision making.

Scientometric indicators have been used to analyse the development of East German scientists' cognitive integration from 1985 to 1998. The indicators included publications in SCI-Journals, the journals' impact factors, Co-authorships and Citations. Methodological problems that affected the analysis were serious flaws in journals' impact factors as provided by the ISI, the cited half-lifes' variation between journals, and the general problem of how the SCI database depicts actual interactions in research.

Three types of integration paths could be distinguished: (1) Scientists who have always been integrated in their communities but improved their integration after 1990, (2) Scientists who had not been integrated until the fall of the German wall but who underwent an integration process after 1990 and (3) Scientists who had not been integrated until 1990 and whose status hasn't change after the Fall of the German wall. Qualitative data about scientists' social integration support the findings of the scientometric analysis.

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