Novelty and Foreseeing Research Trends; The Case of Astrophysics and Astronomy

by   Attila Varga, et al.

Metrics based on reference lists of research articles or on keywords have been used to predict citation impact. The concept behind such metrics is that original ideas stem from the reconfiguration of the structure of past knowledge, and therefore atypical combinations in the reference lists, keywords, or classification codes indicate future high impact research. The current paper serves as an introduction to this line of research for astronomers and also addresses some methodological questions of this field of innovation studies. It is still not clear if the choice of particular indexes, such as references to journals, articles, or specific bibliometric classification codes would affect the relationship between atypical combinations and citation impact. To understand more aspects of the innovation process, a new metric has been devised to measure to what extent researchers are able to anticipate the changing combinatorial trends of the future. Results show that the variant of the latter anticipation scores that is based on paper combinations is a good predictor of future citation impact of scholarly works. The study also shows that the effect of tested indexes vary with the aggregation level that was used to construct them. A detailed analysis of combinatorial novelty in the field reveals that certain sub-fields of astronomy and astrophysics have different roles in the reconfiguration in past knowledge.


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