Defence in the field of computer science, Pietro della Briotta Parolo, M.Sc.
Tittle of dissertation is: Analysis of cumulative and temporal patterns in science
Pietro della Briotta Parolo, M.Sc., will defend the dissertation "Analysis of cumulative and temporal patterns in science" on 4 December 2017 at the Aalto University School of Science. Science is a dynamic system that is constantly undergoing changes in its structure. This dissertation analyses these structural modifications and aims at providing insights to better understand how to analyse both quantitatively and qualitatively scientific output.
Even though Science is often considered as a "solid" academic institution, in reality it is a very fluid and dynamic world that is undergoing structural changes such that new subfields constantly are emerging with some eventually becoming new branches of sciences, new universities are being established expanding the size of the system and scientists are changing constantly institutions, countries, continents yet leaving social traces within their publication network etc. The availability of digitally navigable data in the recent years has allowed scientists to overcome the physical limitations of accessing the cumulative data of scientific output, thus allowing a systematic analysis of the underlying dynamics of scientific publication. This dissertation continues in that direction, by investigating the changes that have been taking place in scientific publications and paying particular attention to what changes can be attributed to the expansion of science as a whole and over time.
This dissertation shows that some temporal patterns that emerge from the data, for example such as the shrinking in the life cycle of publications (in term of citations) and the increase of flow of knowledge between scientific fields/subfields/journals (which suggests an increase of interdisciplinarity) can be explained as a byproduct of the exponential expansion of the system. When one measures time not in terms of years but rather in terms of number of publications published, one can see that the publication life cycle is more static in time, while interdisciplinarity is actually less pronounced as field tend to retain more and more of their knowledge to themselves. Furthermore, this thesis investigates patterns linked to the characteristics of Nobel authors and publications, the correlation between number of citations gathered by a paper and its influence in the whole scientific world and the evolution of the network generated by individual papers.
As the scientific world becomes constantly more prone to quantitative analytics aimed at measuring quantity and quality of the scientific output, this thesis provides a series of points that need to be kept in mind in order to have a fair and comprehensive analysis of science.
Dissertation release (pdf)
Opponent: Assistant Professor Marton Karsai, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France
Custos: Professor Kimmo Kaski, Aalto University School of Science, Department of Computer Science