Mapping the Dynamics of Emerging Technologies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sussex
Department Name: Sch of Business Management & Economics


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Leydesdorff L (2012) Bibliometric perspectives on medical innovation using the medical subject Headings of PubMed in Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

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Rafols I (2014) Measuring Scholarly Impact

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Rotolo D. (2013) Building a multi-perspective scientometric approach on tentative governance of emerging technologies in Proceedings of ISSI 2013 - 14th International Society of Scientometrics and Informetrics Conference

Description The objectives of the project are:

(i) developing new methodologies for the analysis of emerging technologies
(ii) enhance understanding of epistemic communities of emerging technologies
(iii) contributing to the analysis of public interventions related to emerging technologies.

Against objective (i) there has been significant progress in developing tools although integration of different tools remains a challenge. Four members of our team underwent training in Paris with tools being developed and explored by the Paris team (see however we have not found these sufficiently user friendly to deploy in our case studies, with the exception of one case (rice).

For objective (ii) regarding the description of epistemic communities there has been a substantive change during the project. In the initial case studies (RNA interference, HPV testing), we aimed to trace the development of the technology as these emerged. However, in the course of investigating the growth stories (the "narratives") of technologies, we realised that they could only be satisfactorily explained in the context of a competition with alternative technologies that could also provide a solution to a given societal demand or need.

Therefore, individual technological trajectories needed to be investigated in the context of the wider need or demand that it aims to address (which itself may be growing or declining or changing in a way that favours certain technological options). In the latter case studies, we have thus changed our empirical approach. Instead of defining the topic as a technology, we investigate a given demand or need and the emergence of technologies that address this. So, rather than focusing on genetic testing for HPV, we are now focusing on the challenge of diagnostics for cervical cancer. Instead of genetic modified seed in rice, we are investigating rice research in general. We have also realised that this perspective is much better aligned with the shift in science policy towards a framing of research programmes along societal challenges (and which in time will aid impact generation related to objective iii).

We believe that this problem-oriented approach is more appropriate when policy-makers focus on solving societal challenges, following Stirling's open up approach. Focusing on the analysis of a specific technology as done in earlier case studies and by our French colleagues is appropriate once the technology has been accepted as worth of public attention -but it does not help choosing between technologies.
Ideally it would be possible to run the portfolio approach first, then follow a technology mapping approach for each option of the portfolio.

For objective (iii) on the role of polices to support emerging technology, the project team have made a significant contribution to the conceptualisation of technological emergence in the Nuffield council report. We are also developing a report for a workshop of international funding agencies planned for late 2014 (led by the LATTS team) based on the wider findings of the project.

An additional goal was the training of two post-docs across the Paris and Sussex teams. At Sussex, we have trained 2 post-docs in mapping techniques, although we failed to instil sufficient interest in pursuing qualitative approaches in the post-docs. This has limited our ability to conduct a more thorough mixed methods approach except for two cases (RNAi, and avian flu). This is something the ESRC may wish to take into account in PhD training centres, as individuals trained in and applying mixed methods remain rare.
Exploitation Route The project findings suggest that it would be fruitful to consider in future work how to conceptualise and measure complementarity of research programmes and different lines of research within research portfolios in order to address specific socital needs.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The project has resulted in a number of impacts so far. For example a major contribution has been achieved by Professor Andy Stirling (Co-I), working extensively as a steering group member for the Nuffield Council on Bioethics to write a substantial report on the governance of 'Emerging Biotechnologies'. Given the focus of the SPRU arm of the MDET project's focus on biotechnologies this is has been substantially in alignment with the focus of the project. Michael Hopkins (PI) has also supported this collaboration (His work is acknowledged in more than 5 places in the report). A specially commissioned working paper by Nuffield allowed insights from the project related to difficulties of using scientometrics track emerging biotechnologies to be brought to be leveraged by this influential report. The discussion paper has been subsequently published as Hopkins and Siepel 2013, in Technology Analysis and Strategic Management. Additionally, the project team has been able to deploy some of the techniques developed in the project in a separate project for Cancer Research UK, showing how MeSH terms allow the rapid comparison of funding agency research portfolios using scientific publications. This has allowed the mapping of the UK funding system in a new level of detail and has already been reported in the British Medical Journal by a commentator. The tools developed in the project also have applications beyond tracing emerging technologies such as in displaying the interdisciplinary capabilities of research institutions and this has been of interest to the National Cancer Institute in the USA who invited a blog on the topic. Another impact of the project has been Ismael Rafols' participation in policy advice and meetings on the use of Science and Technology indicators. MDET's mapping tools and associated indicators of interdisciplinarity, collaborations and network development, offer insights of performance that contrast and thus complement traditional publication and citation indicators. Its use can thus be particularly helpful in the assessment of research with explicit societal goals, such as health. Given his worked on this area, during the project development, Ismael Rafols has been invited as advisor to the ESRC in an evaluation group on indicators and assessment processes, in the context of J-AGE Project (, as speaker in an OECD workshop on indicators standardisation and an ICSTI conference on scientific data management and provided a response to the HEFCE consultation on metrics in research assessment. He also co-organised a workshop on good practices for indictors in collaboration with the French Observatory of Science and Techniques (OST).
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Advisory board of the Scientific Council of the Colombian Observatorio de Ciencia y Tecnologia
Geographic Reach South America 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a guidance/advisory committee
Description Evaluation group on indicators and assessment processes, in the context of J-AGE Project
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Description Evidence to the Independent Review of the Role of Metrics in Research Assessment
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to a national consultation/review
Description Cancer Research UK consultancy project on mapping interdependencies in the UK funding landscape
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation Cancer Research UK 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2013 
End 09/2013
Description Marie Curie Reintegration Grant
Amount € 100,000 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 03/2013 
End 04/2017
Description People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)
Amount € 196,682 (EUR)
Funding ID PIOF-GA-2012-331107 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 03/2014 
End 03/2016
Description Ramon y Cajal Fellowship
Amount € 250,000 (EUR)
Organisation Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness 
Sector Public
Country Spain
Start 03/2012 
End 04/2017
Title Matching MEDLINE/PubMed Data with Web of Science (WoS): A Routine in R-language 
Description We present a novel routine, namely medlineR, based on R-language, that enables the user to match data from MEDLINE/PubMed with records indexed in the ISI Web of Science (WoS) database. The matching allows exploiting the rich and controlled vocabulary of Med- ical Subject Headings (MeSH) of MEDLINE/PubMed with additional fields of WoS. The integration provides data (e.g. citation data, list of cited reference, full list of the addresses of authors' host organisations, WoS subject categories) to perform a variety of scientometric analyses. This brief communication describes medlineR, the methodology on which it relies, and the steps the user should follow to perform the matching across the two databases. In order to specify the differences from Leydesdorff and Opthof (2013), we conclude the brief communication by testing the routine on the case of the "Burgada Syndrome". 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact It enables users to match two different sources of data on publications, i.e. MEDLINE/PubMed and ISI Web of Science 
Description OECD-experts dialogue on scientometrics: Improving the use of bibliometric indicators and analysis for policy-making 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Unknown
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014