Science studies are persistently challenged by the elusive structures of their subject matter, be it scientific knowledge or the various collectivities of researchers engaged with its production. Bibliometrics has responded by developing a strong and growing structural bibliometrics, which is concerned with delineating fields and identifying thematic structures. In the course of these developments, a concern emerged and is steadily growing. Do the sets of publications, authors or institutions we identify and visualise with our methods indeed represent thematic structures? To what extent are results of topic identification exercises determined by properties of knowledge structures, and to what extent are they determined by the approaches we use? Do we produce more than artefacts? These questions triggered the collective process of comparative topic identification reported in this special issue. The introduction traces the history of bibliometric approaches to topic identification, identifies the major challenges involved in these exercises, and introduces the contributions to the special issue.
|Publication status||Published - 2017|