In the recently published "Research addressing emerging technological ideas has greater scientific impact" [Research Policy 48 (9)], authors Seokbeom Kwon, Xiaoyu Liu, et al. demonstrate that directing research into areas of noted technical emergence generates long-term payouts for researchers, policymakers, and technology managers.
Authors employed VantagePoint text-mining software for extensive analysis of over 130,000 scientific publications in representative areas of Materials Science, Biotechnology, and Information/Communication Technology (ICT), extracting the intelligence buried in the "language" of a collective scientific discussion as well as well as the temporal and relational waypoints. Results showed a substantial connection between two bibliometric indicators:
1. Emergence Score – Assessing "terms" extracted from publication records against measures of persistence, novelty, growth, community, and scope to determine which sub-topics within a target domain are robustly "emergent"
2. Citation Analysis - Assessing extent of citations to publications containing "emergent" terms
Results show "the degree to which a paper contains technologically emerging ideas is positively and strongly associated with its future citation impact"...and "a series of tests for validation further support our argument that the greater the extent to which scientific knowledge (a paper) contains emerging ideas, the bigger its scientific impact" within and outside its scientific domain.
These insights into the importance of identifying and understanding areas of technical emergence provide new intelligence for all involved in science, technology & innovation (ST&I) - some examples:
1. Academic Researchers- Early-career researchers can pinpoint promising research sub-topics to pursue.
2. Policymakers - Governmental authorities can improve ST&I funding policies, especially those with goals of cross-domain knowledge dissemination.
3. Technology Managers – Technology firms can tune processes for technological opportunity assessment, especially in sectors where scientific research drives technological innovation.