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Journal Articles PLoS ONE Year : 2016

Mapping the Emergence of Synthetic Biology

Abstract

In this paper, we apply an original scientometric analyses to a corpus comprising synthetic biology (SynBio) publications in Thomson Reuters Web of Science to characterize the emergence of this new scientific field. Three results were drawn from this empirical investigation. First, despite the exponential growth of publications, the study of population level statistics (newcomers proportion, collaboration network structure) shows that SynBio has entered a stabilization process since 2010. Second, the mapping of textual and citational networks shows that SynBio is characterized by high heterogeneity and four different approaches: the central approach, where biobrick engineering is the most widespread; genome engineering; protocell creation; and metabolic engineering. We suggest that synthetic biology acts as an umbrella term allowing for the mobilization of resources, and also serves to relate scientific content and promises of applications. Third, we observed a strong intertwinement between epistemic and socioeconomic dynamics. Measuring scientific production and impact and using structural analysis data, we identified a core set of mostly American scientists. Biographical analysis shows that these central and influential scientists act as "boundary spanners," meaning that their importance to the field lies not only in their academic contributions, but also in their capacity to interact with other social spaces that are outside the academic sphere.

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hal-03895622 , version 1 (13-12-2022)

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Benjamin Raimbault, Jean-Philippe Cointet, Pierre-Benoît Joly. Mapping the Emergence of Synthetic Biology. PLoS ONE, 2016, 11 (9), pp.1-19. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0161522⟩. ⟨hal-03895622⟩
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