Frank Schweitzer and Alessandro Vespignani

EPJ Data Science (2012)


Science is changing, all the time. Some consider external factors to be the major driving force, such as new discoveries, or new technologies that provide deeper insights into known systems. Others consider internal factors to be more important, such as the never-ending search for eternal truths or, at least, for the theoretical unification of diverse observations. Yet others believe that science is a social endeavor and its evolution is governed by forces very similar to those that cause fashions to change, with new research topics seeming to catch our attention and established topics falling out of vogue. We have come to believe that all of these arguments apply, and that the various impacts on scientific progress are even mutually dependent. Fashionable topics co-evolve with technological advances, as do new discoveries with overarching theories.