Journal of Data and Information Science ›› 2017, Vol. 2 ›› Issue (1): 70-88.doi: 10.1515/jdis-2017-0004

• Research Paper • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Insight into the Disciplinary Structure of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology

Luan Chunjuan1,(),Porter Alan L.2   

  1. 1Faculty of Administration and Law, Dalian University of Technology, Dalian 116085, China
    2School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30092, USA
  • Received:2016-06-30 Revised:2016-12-12 Online:2017-01-23 Published:2016-11-19
  • Contact: Luan Chunjuan


This paper aims to gain an insight into the disciplinary structure of nanoscience & nanotechnology (N&N): What is the disciplinary network of N&N like? Which disciplines are being integrated into N&N over time? For a specific discipline, how many other disciplines have direct or indirect connections with it? What are the distinct subgroups of N&N at different evolutionary stages? Such critical issues are to be addressed in this paper.

We map the disciplinary network structure of N&N by employing the social network analysis tool, Netdraw, identifying which Web of Science Categories (WCs) mediate nbetweenness centrality in different stages of nano development. Cliques analysis embedded in the Ucinet program is applied to do the disciplinary cluster analysis in the study according to the path of “Network-Subgroup-Cliques,” and a tree diagram is selected as the visualizing type.

The disciplinary network structure reveals the relationships among different disciplines in the N&N developing process clearly, and it is easy for us to identify which disciplines are connected with the core “N&N” directly or indirectly. The tree diagram showing N&N related disciplines provides an interesting perspective on nano research and development (R&D) structure.

The matrices used to draw the N&N disciplinary network are the original ones, and normalized matrix could be tried in future similar studies.

Results in this paper can help us better understand the disciplinary structure of N&N, and the dynamic evolution of N&N related disciplines over time. The findings could benefit R&D decision making. It can support policy makers from government agencies engaging in science and technology (S&T) management or S&T strategy planners to formulate efficient decisions according to a perspective of converging sciences and technologies.

The novelty of this study lies in mapping the disciplinary network structure of N&N clearly, identifying which WCs have a mediating effect in different developmental stages (especially analyzing clusters among disciplines related to N&N, revealing close or distant relationships among distinct areas pertinent to N&N).

Key words: Nanoscience &, nanotechnology (N&N), Disciplinary structure, Social network analysis, Cluster analysis, Cliques analysis, Dynamic evolution