Next week, we will host the 11th International Conference on Science and Technology Indicators here at CWTS in Leiden. The house will be packed.
For me, it will be a great opportunity to get updated about the latest developments in the field of STI indicator research. I am especially interested in five different areas: the role of web based data and indicators; changes in the process of evaluation; indicators for the humanities and social sciences; indicators for emerging types of scientific and scholarly output; and last but not least the constructive roles of science and technology indicators.
It is clear that more researchers are engaged in web based ways of working. This may mean that web based indicators are also becoming more relevant. However, this raises new problems with respect reliability and validity. Another question is whether the web will stimulate "lay scientometrics" where in principle anyone can do pretty sophisticated statistics with the help of software agents and robots. Will this create new challenges for professional scientometricians?
The web promises to help also in another area: the creation of indicators that do justice to the way researchers and scholars in the humanities work. It is well-known problem that international peer reviewed journals are not always the predominant outlet for research in these areas. Writing books in other languages than English is often more relevant. New media moreover enable forms like films, performances, blogs and wikis. These alternative forms are currently not well covered in STI indicators. This raises the question how the web can help to develop indicators that do more justice to the actual research work that humanists and social scientists are doing. It also raises a dilemma: should we try to capture all relevant work in indicators? What are the downsides of "too much information"?
This points to the way we are building an increasingly complex society, where knowledge and social interaction is made measurable in new ways (think about how retailers are monitoring their clients through their client cards), and where these measurements are fed back into the cycle of knowledge creation. I am curious how this will play out at the STI conference.