Ismael Rafols - The use of mapping tools in science policy: ‘Opening up’ or ‘Closing down’? 

This presentation will explore the potential uses of new informetric tools that aim to analyse and visualise the dynamics of science. It will argue for a reflective examination of the purposes (often only implicit) that the tools aim to serve. To do so, it will build on the distinction between analytical tools that narrow the inputs and close down the policy debates, versus tools that help broadening out the analysis to diverse perspectives, and opening up the outcomes of policy discussion to multiple conditional possibilities.
Using this framework, the presentation will first review some of the past and current usages of scientometrics tools in science policy. We propose that traditional scientometrics has often been used to narrow and close down the discussion on issues that are intrinsically normative (and thus political) such as the understanding of excellence. Second, we explore how emerging visualisation techniques (e.g. allowing interactive exploration), offer new possibilities both to broaden out the scope from which science dynamics is investigated, and to use the maps and multidimenstional metrics as tools to open up the policy debates –instead of being used as a justifications to close them down. Maps and metrics on interdisciplinarity will be shown as examples of an opening up approach.
Ismael Rafols, Fellow, SPRU –Science and Technology Policy Research University of Susex. See: www.interdisciplinaryscience.net

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