The cognitive structure of cocitation clusters associated with scientific specialties

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Virginia Tech


This study examines one empirical manifestation of social order of two elite scientific communities. This project examines the cognitive order or structure of the cocitation cluster of papers representative of each group.

The method reported in this paper retrieves the cognitive structures of cocitation clusters associated with scientific specialties. This method uses socially reinforced regularities in scientific writing styles, technical content and communicating techniques displayed in published scientific papers. A cognitive structure denotes a developmental outline of a scientific specialty's central ideas. This structure comprises of a series of principal statements and the linkages associating them. A principal statement is a single sentence extracted from a paper which exemplifies the paper as a whole. The linkages represent associations between sentences such as refinement of previously stated ideas, confirmation of previous findings, even contradiction of previous conclusions, and others. I apply this method to two independent clusters of papers each representing a biology group: Australia Antigen and Lâ Dopa specialties, respectively. The resultant cognitive structures are compare to accounts of specialty cognitive development created by a previous study of the same specialty groups performed by Mullins et al. (1977) and (1980).