SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

photo of Ismael Rafols

Dr Ismael Rafols

Post:Visiting Fellow (SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit)
Personal homepage:www.interdisciplinaryscience.net

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 678177
International:+44 1273 678177
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I work on the mapping of interdisciplinary fields and emergent technologies such as biotech or nanotech, combining scientometrics, network analyses and qualitative approaches. The goal of the research is to improve transparency and plurality in technology assessment and foresight, and in evaluations of scientific organisations. I serve as Editorial Advisor in the journal Scientometrics.

This work is currently supported by an ESRC-ANR funded collaboration (Mapping the dynamics of emergent technologies) with Loet Leydesdorff (Amsterdam) and Phillipe Larédo's group at IFRIS (Paris-Est), and a US NSF-funded collaboration with Alan Porter at Georgia Institute of Technology. Some of our mapping tools received coverage in the magazine ScienceWatch. For more details see: www.interdisciplinaryscience.net

My previous focus has been on the analysis of interdisciplinarity on nanotechnology. Although this emergent field is often presented as a an example of interdisciplinarity or technological convergence, there is a lack of empirical studies analysing how and why this field is interdisciplinary. Relying both on qualitative data from interviews and bibliometric analyses, we aim to identify the bodies of knowledge of contributing to various subfields of bionanotechnology, the practices (collaborations, recruitment, in-house learning) used by research groups in order to garner knowledge from various sources, and the drivers or visions leading to these cross-disciplinary practices.


Publication List (with citations) in: Web of Science // Google Scholar.


I started my career in physics (BSc, Barcelona) then pursued a specialisation in statistical physics and complex systems (MSc, Tokyo) which eventually led me to conduct research in cell and developmental biology combining experimental approaches and mathematical modelling (PhD, Tohoku Univ., Sendai, Japan). After this, I carried out a postdoc in the Physics Dept. of Cornell University (New York) in a project that involved the Cornell NanoBiotechnology Center.

I came to SPRU to undertake an MSc in Science and Technology Policy in 2004, joining shortly after the faculty to work in various projects and consultancies. In 2006-08, I was awarded an EU postdoctoral Marie Curie fellowship, and remained as a SPRU fellow until mid 2012, when I became a research fellow at INGENIO (CSIC-UPV), an innovation research institute in the campus of the Universitat Politècnica de València, with a 5-year Ramon y Cajal Fellowship.

Besides academia, I have worked on international cooperation in Oxfam-Intermon (1993-4) and the Int. Assoc. of Educating Cities (2003-04). I have spent  7 years in Japan and have travelled extensively in Asia.


1.        Leydesdorff, L. and Rafols, I (Under review) Indicators of interdisciplinarity of journals: Diversity, centrality, and citations. Journal of Informetrics.