Tracing “interdisciplinarity” using time series of journal maps: The visualization and dynamic animation of journal-journal citation relations


  • In the meantime (May 2008), an extension of this conference contribution to a full paper was accepted for publication by the Journal of the American Society for Information Science & Technology (Leydesdorff & Schank, forthcoming). I am grateful to Thomas Schank for developing the animations in Visone, and Diana Lucio-Arias, Wouter de Nooy, and Andrea Scharnhorst for stimulating feedback.


Structural change—e.g., interdisciplinary development—is often an objective of government interventions in science and technology. However, the dynamic analysis of structural change in the organization of the sciences requires methodologically the integration of multivariate and time-series analysis. Recent developments in multidimensional scaling (MDS) enable us to distinguish the stress originating in each time-slice from the stress originating from the sequencing of time-slices, and thus to locally optimize the trade-offs between these two sources of variance in the animation. Furthermore, visualization programs like Pajek and Visone allow us to show not only the positions of the nodes, but also their relational attributes like betweenness centrality. Betweenness centrality in the vector space can be considered as an indicator of interdisciplinarity. Using this indicator, the dynamics of the citation impact environments of the journals Cognitive Science, Social Networks, and Nanotechnology are animated and assessed in terms of interdisciplinarity among the disciplines involved.