‘Map of Science,” reflects the new bit-sized world

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By Roger Snodgrass

A team of cyber-scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory has found a novel approach for measuring the global scientific enterprise, bit by bit.

Johan Bollen of LANL’s Mathematical Modeling and Analysis Group led the investigation, published this week as “Clickstream Data Yields High Resolution Maps of Science” in the current issue of the Public Library of Science (PLoS).

Bollen said the findings may change the way science is funded.

Current measures of scientific activity and influence rely heavily on an outdated system of citations and a more subjective interpretation of press clippings and public impact, but that is about to change.

After compiling records of nearly 1 billion online interactions from a broad sampling of scholarly web portals, Bollen believes that the patterning and analysis of these Internet sessions that he calls “clickstream data” provides a more representative picture of what is actually happening in the scientific world.

“It will help funding agencies and policy makers make better decisions about science,” Bollen said.

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