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Data from: How new concepts become universal scientific approaches – insights from citation network analysis of agent-based complex systems science

Citation

Vincenot, Christian E. (2018), Data from: How new concepts become universal scientific approaches – insights from citation network analysis of agent-based complex systems science, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.19nr2

Abstract

Progress in understanding and managing complex systems comprised of decision-making agents, such as cells, organisms, ecosystems, or societies, is—like many scientific endeavors—limited by disciplinary boundaries. These boundaries, however, are moving and can actively be made porous or even disappear. To study this process, we advanced an original bibliometric approach based on network analysis to track and understand the development of the model-based science of agent-based complex systems (ACS). We analyzed research citations between the two communities devoted to ACS research, namely agent-based (ABM) and individual-based modeling (IBM). Both terms refer to the same approach, yet the former is preferred in engineering and social sciences, while the latter prevails in natural sciences. This situation provided a unique case study for grasping how a new concept evolves distinctly across scientific domains and how to foster convergence into a universal scientific approach. The present analysis based on novel hetero-citation metrics revealed the historical development of ABM and IBM, confirmed their past disjointedness, and detected their progressive merger. The separation between these synonymous disciplines had silently opposed the free flow of knowledge among ACS practitioners and has thereby hindered the transfer of methodological advances and the emergence of general systems theories. A surprisingly small number of key publications sparked the ongoing fusion between ABM and IBM research. Beside reviews raising awareness of broad-spectrum issues, generic protocols for model formulation and boundary-transcending inference strategies were critical means of science integration. From the modeling viewpoint, the discovery of the unification of ABM and IBM demonstrates that a wide variety of systems substantiate the premise of ACS research that microscale behaviors of agents and system-level dynamics are inseparably bound.

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