Journal publications and book chapters (selected) 

Funding Data from Publication Acknowledgements: Coverage, Uses and Limitations

Grassano N, Rotolo D, Hutton J, Lang F, Hopkins MM (2017)

Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 68(4):  999–1017

This article contributes to the development of methods for analysing research funding systems by exploring the robustness and comparability of emerging approaches to generate funding landscapes useful for policy making. We use a novel dataset of manually extracted and coded data on the funding acknowledgements of 7,510 publications representing UK cancer research in the year 2011 and compare these ‘reference data’ with funding data provided by Web of Science (WoS) and MEDLINE/PubMed. Findings show high recall (about 93%) of WoS funding data. By contrast, MEDLINE/PubMed data retrieved less than half of the UK cancer publications acknowledging at least one funder. Conversely, both databases have high precision (+90%): i.e. few cases of publications with no acknowledgement to funders are identified as having funding data. Nonetheless, funders acknowledged in UK cancer publications were not correctly listed by MEDLINE/PubMed and WoS in about 75% and 32% of the cases, respectively. ‘Reference data’ on the UK cancer research funding system are then used as a case-study to demonstrate the utility of funding data for strategic intelligence applications (e.g. mapping of funding landscape, comparison of funders’ research portfolios). 

A triple helix model of medical innovation: Supply, demand, and technological capabilities in terms of Medical Subject Headings

Petersen AM, Rotolo D, Leydedorff L (2016)
Research Policy, 45(3): 666-681

We develop a model of innovation that enables us to trace the interplay among three key dimensions of the innovation process: (i) demand of and (ii) supply for innovation, and (iii) technological capabilities available to generate innovation in the forms of products, processes, and services. Building on triple helix research, we use entropy statistics to elaborate an indicator of mutual information among these dimensions that can provide indication of reduction of uncertainty. To do so, we focus on the medical context, where uncertainty poses significant challenges to the governance of innovation. We use the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) of MEDLINE/PubMed to identify publications classified within the categories “Diseases" (C), "Drugs and Chemicals" (D), "Analytic, Diagnostic, and Therapeutic Techniques and Equipment" (E) and use these as knowledge representations of demand, supply, and technological capabilities, respectively. Three case-studies of medical research areas are used as representative 'entry perspectives' of the medical innovation process. These are: (i) human papilloma virus, (ii) RNA interference, and (iii) magnetic resonance imaging. We find statistically significant periods of synergy among demand, supply, and technological capabilities (C-D-E) that point to three-dimensional interactions as a fundamental perspective for the understanding and governance of the uncertainty associated with medical innovation. Among the pairwise configurations in these contexts, the demand-technological capabilities (C-E) provided the strongest link, followed by the supply-demand (D-C) and the supply-technological capabilities (D-E) channels.

Strategic intelligence on emerging technologies: Scientometric overlay mapping

Rotolo D, Rafols I, Hopkins MM, Leydedorff L (2016)
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (forthcoming)

This paper examines the use of scientometric overlay mapping as a tool of 'strategic intelligence' to aid the governance of emerging technologies. We develop an integrative synthesis of different overlay mapping techniques and associated perspectives on technological emergence across the geographical, social, and cognitive spaces. To do so, we  longitudinally analyse (with publication and patent data) three case-studies of emerging technologies in the biomedical domain. These are: RNA interference (RNAi), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) testing technologies for cervical cancer, and Thiopurine Methyltransferase (TPMT) genetic testing. Given the flexibility (i.e. adaptability to different sources of data) and granularity (i.e. applicability across multiple levels of data aggregation) of overlay mapping techniques, we argue that these techniques can favour the integration and comparison of results from different contexts and cases, thus potentially functioning as platform for a 'distributed' strategic intelligence for analysts and decision-makers.

Journal portfolio analysis for countries, cities, and organizations: Maps and comparisons?

Leydesdorff L, Heimeriks G, Rotolo D (2016)
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(3): 741-748

Using Web-of-Science data, portfolio analysis in terms of journal coverage can be projected on a base map for units of analysis such as countries, cities, universities, and firms. The units of analysis under study can be compared statistically across the 10,000+ journals. The interdisciplinarity of the portfolios is measured using Rao-Stirling diversity or the 2D3 measure proposed by Zhang et al. (2015). At the country level we find regional differentiation (e.g., Latin-American or Asian countries), but also a major divide between advanced and less-developed countries. Israel and Israeli cities outperform other nations and cities in terms of diversity. Universities appear to be specifically related to firms when a number of these units are exploratively compared. The instrument is relatively simple and straightforward, and one can generalize the application to any document set retrieved from the Web-of-Science (WoS). Further instruction is provided online at 

Maps and tools at the Leydesdorff's website

Technological accretion in diagnostics: HPV testing and Pap testing in cervical cancer screening

Hogarth S, Hopkins MM, Rotolo D (2016)
In Medical Innovation: Science, Technology and Practice . Consoli D, Mina A, Nelson RR, Ramlogan R (eds). London, UK: Routledge. ISBN: 978-1-13-886034-6. 

This chapter follows the emergence of molecular HPV testing technologies and their application to cervical cancer screening in the USA. When HPV testing was first commercialised in the late 1980s, screening for cervical cancer had been a routine part of preventive healthcare for at least two decades, with testing conducted by cervical cytologists using the Pap smear test, a technology first developed in the 1910s. Many now predict that molecular HPV tests will eventually replace cervical cytology, bringing fundamental changes to the clinical infrastructure of screening in the process. However, at present these technologies not only co-exist but augment each other. This process of technological accretion has involved not only an accommodation with molecular technologies, but also the widespread adoption of novel cytology technologies: liquid-based cytology (LBC) and automated slide readers. This chapter explores the institutional factors that have shaped this contingent outcome. We begin by setting out the clinical context of cervical cancer screening. Cervical carcinoma is the fourth most common form of cancer in women, and is the cause of 7.5% of cancer deaths in women worldwide (IARC, 2012). These global statistics belie a grossly unequal disease burden: cervical cancer is now predominantly a disease of low- and middle-income countries, because since the 1960s both incidence and mortality rates have dropped dramatically in many developed countries. This is generally ascribed in large part to the introduction of screening programmes; cervical cancer screening (CCS) has become ubiquitous in the developed world with many countries running national programmes to ensure that women have the opportunity for regular screening. Statistics from the USA show a greater than 50% decline over 30 years in both incidence and mortality which are widely attributed to cervical cancer screening, although the disease still kills around 2.38 in 100,000 women in the USA (ACOG, 2012) . The decline in incidence and mortality is due primarily to that fact that screening identifies pre-invasive lesions which can be treated well before the possible onset of cancer (Saslow et al, 2012). Until recently cytology-based screening has relied on a technology developed in the first half of the twentieth century: the Pap smear. The traditional Pap smear involves scraping cells from the cervix and smearing them in a thin layer on a glass slide. The cells are then stained and examined under a microscope by a cytologist, to check for abnormalities. In the 1990s the traditional Pap began to be replaced by liquid-based cytology – a technique which involves placing the cells into preserving fluid and then filtering them to remove impurities prior to examination by microscope. However, even before LBC became routine, a more radical alternative technology was in development. In 1983 scientists provided strong evidence for an association between cervical cancer and human papilloma virus (HPV) when they cloned two carcinogenic HPV types (HPV 16 and 18), and soon thereafter companies began to develop HPV tests for use in cervical cancer screening. 

What is an emerging technology?

Rotolo D, Hicks D, Martin BR (2015)
Research Policy, 44(10): 1827-1843

There is considerable and growing interest in the emergence of novel technologies, especially from the policy-making perspective. Yet as an area of study, emerging technologies lacks key foundational elements, namely a consensus on what classifies a technology as ’emergent’ and strong research designs that operationalize central theoretical concepts. The present paper aims to fill this gap by developing a definition of ’emerging technologies’ and linking this conceptual effort with the development of a framework for the operationalisation of technological emergence. The definition is developed by combining a basic understanding of the term and in particular the concept of ’emergence’ with a review of key innovation studies dealing with definitional issues of technological emergence. The resulting definition identifies five attributes that feature in the emergence of novel technologies. These are: (i) radical novelty, (ii) relatively fast growth, (iii) coherence, (iv) prominent impact, and (v) uncertainty and ambiguity. The framework for operationalising emerging technologies is then elaborated on the basis of the proposed attributes. To do so, we identify and review major empirical approaches (mainly in, although not limited to, the scientometric domain) for the detection and study of emerging technologies (these include indicators and trend analysis, citation analysis, co-word analysis, overlay mapping, and combinations thereof) and elaborate on how these can be used to operationalise the different attributes of emergence. 

Matching MEDLINE/PubMed data with Web of Science (WoS): A routine in R-language

Rotolo D, Leydesdorff L (2015)
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 66(10): 2155–2159

We present a novel routine, namely medlineR, based on R language, that enables the user to match data from MEDLINE/PubMed with records indexed in the ISI Web of Science (WoS) database. The matching allows exploiting the rich and controlled vocabulary of Medical Sub- ject Headings (MeSH) of MEDLINE/PubMed with additional fields of WoS. The integration provides data (e.g. citation data, list of cited reference, list of the addresses of authors’ host organisations, WoS subject categories) to perform a variety of scientometric analyses. This brief communication describes medlineR, the methodology on which it relies, and the steps the user should follow to perform the matching across the two databases. In order to specify the differences from Leydesdorff and Opthof (2013), we conclude the brief communication by testing the routine on the case of the "Burgada Syndrome".


The routine is available here


Determinants of patent citations in biotechnology: An analysis of patent influence across the industrial and organizational boundaries

Messeni Petruzzelli A, Rotolo D, Albino V (2015)
Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 91: 208-221

The present paper extends the literature investigating key drivers leading certain patents to exert a stronger influence on the subsequent technological developments (inventions) than other ones. We investigated six key determinants, as (i) the use of scientific knowledge, (ii) the breadth of the technological base, (iii) the existence of collaboration in patent development, (iv) the number of claims, (v) the scope, and (vi) the novelty, and how the effect of these determinants varies when patent influence—as measured by the number of forward citations the patent received—is distinguished as within and across the industrial and organizational boundaries. We conducted an empirical analysis on a sample of 5671 patents granted to 293 US biotechnology firms from 1976 to 2003. Results reveal that the contribution of the determinants to patent influence differs across the domains that are identified by the industrial and organizational boundaries. Findings, for example, show that the use of scientific knowledge negatively affects patent influence outside the biotechnology industry, while it positively contributes to make a patent more relevant for the assignee's subsequent technological developments. In addition, the broader the scope of a patent the higher the number of citations the patent receives from subsequent non-biotechnology patents. This relationship is inverted U-shaped when considering the influence of a patent on inventions granted to other organizations than the patent's assignee. Finally, the novelty of a patent is inverted-U related with the influence the patent exerts on the subsequent inventions granted across the industrial and organizational boundaries.

An exploratory study of the role of publishing inventors in nanotechnology

Cattani G, Rotolo D (2013)
In Understanding the Relationship Between Networks and Technology, Creativity and Innovation, Technology, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Competitive Strategy (13): 97–122. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited. ISBN: 978-1-78190-489-3 

Social network theory and analytic tools have been increasingly used to examine the interaction between science and technology. Recently, researchers have paid attention to the role of publishing inventors, that is, individuals bridging the collaborative networks between authors (co-authorship network) and inventors (co-invention network). Building on this research, we study how publishing inventors’ structural position in the joint co-authorship and co-invention network affects the quality of the inventions to which they contribute. Specifically, we identify publishing inventors who play a pivotal role in holding the two networks together: their removal not only increases the network fragmentation but also disconnects the joint co-authorship and co-invention network. We define these publishing inventors as cutpoints and find them to contribute to inventions of greater quality. We situate the analysis within the context of the emerging field of nanotechnology. The theoretical and managerial implications of the results are discussed.

When does centrality matter? Scientific productivity and the moderating role of research specialization and cross community ties

Rotolo D, Messeni Petruzzelli A (2013)
Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34(5): 648-670

The present study addresses the ongoing debate concerning academic scientific productivity. Specifically, given the increasing number of collaborations in academia and the crucial role networks play in knowledge creation, we investigate the extent to which building social capital within the academic community represents a valuable resource for a scientist's knowledge-creation process. We measure the social capital in terms of structural position within the academic collaborative network. Furthermore, we analyse the extent to which an academic scientist's research specialization and ties that cross-community boundaries act as moderators of the aforementioned relationship. Empirical results derived from an analysis of an Italian academic community from 2001 to 2008 suggest academic scientists that build social capital by occupying central positions in the community outperform their more isolated colleagues. However, scientific productivity declines beyond a certain threshold value of centrality, hence revealing the existence of an inverted U-shaped relationship. This relationship is negatively moderated by the extent to which an academic focuses research activities in few scientific knowledge domains, whereas it is positively moderated by the number of cross-community ties established.

Innovation as a nonlinear process, the scientometric perspective, and the specification of an ‘innovation opportunities explorer’

Leydesdorff L, Rotolo D, de Nooy W (2012)

Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 25(6): 641-653 63
(Special Issue on Tech Mining for Innovation Management)

The process of innovation follows nonlinear patterns across the domains of science, technology, and the economy. Novel bibliometric mapping techniques can be used to investigate and represent distinctive, but complementary perspectives on the innovation process (e.g. ‘demand’ and ‘supply’) as well as the interactions among these perspectives using animations. In a map, the different perspectives can be represented as ‘continents’ of data related to varying extents over time. For example, the different branches of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in the Medline database provide sources of such perspectives (e.g. ‘Diseases’ vs ‘Drugs and Chemicals’). The multiple-perspective approach enables us to reconstruct facets of the dynamics of innovation, in terms of selection mechanisms shaping localisable trajectories and/or resulting in more globalised regimes. By expanding the data with patents and scholarly publications, we demonstrate the use of this multi-perspective approach in the case of RNA Interference (RNAi). The possibility to develop an ‘Innovation Opportunities Explorer’ is specified.

Bibliometric perspectives on medical innovation using the Medical Subject Headings of PubMed

Leydesdorff L, Rotolo D, Rafols I (2012)
Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 63(11): 2239-2253

Multiple perspectives on the nonlinear processes of medical innovations can be distinguished and combined using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) of the MEDLINE database. Focusing on three main branches—“diseases,” “drugs and chemicals,” and “techniques and equipment”—we use base maps and overlay techniques to investigate the translations and interactions and thus to gain a bibliometric perspective on the dynamics of medical innovations. To this end, we first analyze the MEDLINE database, the MeSH index tree, and the various options for a static mapping from different perspectives and at different levels of aggregation. Following a specific innovation (RNA interference) over time, the notion of a trajectory which leaves a signature in the database is elaborated. Can the detailed index terms describing the dynamics of research be used to predict the diffusion dynamics of research results? Possibilities are specified for further integration between the MEDLINE database on one hand, and the Science Citation Index and Scopus (containing citation information) on the other.


Maps and tools at the Leydesdorff's website

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© 2014 Daniele Rotolo