Reframing scientometrics: How ontological understanding of science influences what we count and how we interpret it
The second lecture of the Swiss Year of Scientometrics: reframing scientometrics
The event tookplace on 11 October 2023 in collaboration with the CHESS. Prof. Emanuel Kulczycki explored how ontological understanding of science influences what we count and how we interpret it.
Abstract: Scientometrics faces challenges in addressing criticism of university rankings and publication metrics. Merely developing new indicators is not enough; understanding what is being quantified and the reasons behind it is crucial. This lecture explores how an ontological understanding of science influences what we count and how we interpret it. It argues that scientometrics should focus on information flows and view scientists as part of a self-organizing system, rather than competing entities.
The lecture highlights how contemporary scientometrics and the effects of research evaluation regimes, including publication pressure and the misuse of metrics, stems from an atomistic and individualistic ontology pioneered by Derek J. de Solla Price. By examining Price's approach, we gain insights into the shaping of our current understanding of science measurement. While Price's paradigm remains unchallenged in Western scientometrics, this lecture explores alternative perspectives that emerged in Central-Eastern European countries over a century ago. By shedding light on neglected historical reflections, this lecture reveals that many attempted solutions were unsuccessful due to underlying ontological assumptions. In conclusion, the lecture outlines lessons from this historical analysis to inform current scientometric practices at both local and global levels.
Kulczycki_Swiss Year of Scientometrics.pdf