A geo-historical account of the development of DNA repair studies, par Marion Maisonobe

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My presentation will discuss different ways of using graphs to explore the emergence stage of a scientific specialty thanks to bibliometric data. Although it is a well-known issue in science studies, few studies only are focusing on the geographical dimension of scientific specialties. The scientific specialty under scrutiny is the DNA repair group which explores the way DNA repair mechanisms are dealing with lesions to DNA. This research area started to develop in the 1950s but the keyword « DNA repair » was only coined in the 1960s and became largely used in the 1970s. At first, we will demonstrate the quality of the data retrieved in bibliometric databases for the early period is not good enough to have a complete overview of the emergence stage at the world level. Nevertheless, in a second time, we will show there are different ways to process such incomplete data in order to study the emergence stage of the specialty (1965-1975). In particular, we will present and discuss a collaboration network, a citation network and at last, a two-mode network constructed with pioneers’ bibliometric trajectories in order to capture pioneers’ geographical mobility. What is at stake is to show networks’ visualizations can be used as guidelines to perform an historical account of the emergence stage. We will insist on two methodological specificities: the integration of the geographical information to build different type of networks on one hand and the role of the qualitative materials to comment and interpret the graphical results on the other hand. Not only will we comment the visible cases (notably the American seminal contributions) but we will also discuss the invisible cases of the emergence stage (for instance, the invisible links between the Western and the Eastern world). From an historical point of view, this case study is illustrative of the role played by post war scientific policies at different geographical scales, including American and European policies to organize the international scientific linkages.

Marion Maisonobe est doctorante en géographie au LISST-CIEU à l’Université de Toulouse, UT2-Le Mirail.


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