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A global map of science based on the ISI subject categories

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Abstract

The decomposition of scientific literature into disciplinary and subdisciplinary structures is one of the core goals of scientometrics. How can we achieve a good decomposition? The ISI subject categories classify journals included in the Science Citation Index (SCI). The aggregated journal-journal citation matrix contained in the Journal Citation Reports can be aggregated on the basis of these categories. This leads to an asymmetrical matrix (citing versus cited) that is much more densely populated than the underlying matrix at the journal level. Exploratory factor analysis of the matrix of subject categories suggests a 14-factor solution. This solution could be interpreted as the disciplinary structure of science. The nested maps of science (corresponding to 14 factors, 172 categories, and 6,164 journals) are online at http://www.leydesdorff.net/map06. Presumably, inaccuracies in the attribution of journals to the ISI subject categories average out so that the factor analysis reveals the main structures. The mapping of science could, therefore, be comprehensive and reliable on a large scale albeit imprecise in terms of the attribution of journals to the ISI subject categories.

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