Mapping the Changing Centrality of Physicists (1900-1944)

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This paper contributes to historical bibliometrics in proposing to apply social networks methodology and the concept of centrality to co-citation networks. Using the case of physics for the period 1900-1944 we show that measuring the centrality of authors in co-citation networks provides a useful index of the evolution of a scientific field (in this case physics) and the changing focus of research over time. We divided the 45-year period into seven sub-periods related to major events in physics and calculated the centrality of actors present in the co-citation network for each of these periods. The results obtained reflect the major changes in the disciplines: we see the evolving rise and decline in centrality of major physicists like H.A. Lorentz, A. Einstein, N. Bohr, E. Ruherford as well as others less known figures as the “hot” topics move from black body and electron theory to relativity and spectroscopy and from quantum mechanics to nuclear physics.

This content has been updated on October 15th, 2018 at 14 h 50 min.