Table of Contents
The Science Foresight Project
The final report for the Science Foresight Project is now available in pdf format to download or view on-line (see the Final Report section in menu on the left). Also, the Abstract, the Executive Summary and the Observations and Recommendations chapters can be viewed in html format. In addition, the 481 highly co-cited papers used as the source of experts for this project and the short and long term predictions about emerging research developments are available as searchable databases.
The objective of the Science Foresight Project was to identify emerging and potentially important research areas primarily in the physical and engineering sciences using internationally recognized experts selected by co-citation analysis.
The Science Foresight Project is a collaborative project between SPRU, the Science and Technology Policy Research institute located on the University of Sussex campus and Dstl, the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory part of the UK Ministry of Defence.
Selecting The Experts
The Science Foresight Project used co-citation patterns to scientific and technical publications indexed in the Institute for Scientific Information's (ISI) 1999 Research Fronts database to identify approximately 500 highly co-cited research papers in a variety of physical science and engineering fields. This database contains bibliographic and citation information on 20,000 clusters of related research papers. These clusters of papers, which ISI calls research fronts, were identified using co-citation analysis to establish subject similarity among documents by finding pairs of papers, cited above a minimum threshold (6 times) that were often cited together by other research papers published in 1999. Co-citation analysis is more immune to the effects of self-citing than conventional citation techniques. The authors of the selected papers were invited to identify short and long term emerging and potentially important research areas.
One of the main challenges in the Science Foresight Project was to establish a robust and repeatable way to identify highly co-cited papers for use in the study. The details of the technique are given in the methodology section of the final report. The authors of highly co-cited papers were considered to be experts in their fields and they were invited to participate in the study. They were asked to identify interesting and exciting emerging short and long term opportunities in their areas of research.
This peer-review recognition based technique for selecting experts is a significant departure from traditional foresight activities. Traditional methods usually use social and political networks as a source of experts. It is hoped that this novel selection technique produced a collection of experts who have been internationally recognised by their peers as making a high impact research contribution in their fields and that these experts have in turn identifed some emerging research frontiers. In other words, these authors were asked to act as spokes people for others in their research communities. An author was chosen because his/her name appeared on a highly cited and co-cited paper that occurred in a cluster of a large number of papers on a similar research topic. Authors were not chosen because their papers necessarily contained research findings that were in emerging research frontiers but rather because their research findings may be used in emerging research frontiers. However, since their work has had a significant impact on their communities it is likely they may be aware of significant research progress in their fields and have a sense of emerging developments in the short to long term.
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