Blau, Judith R. "Sociometric Structure of a Scientific Discipline," in Robert Alum Jones, editor.

 

Blau, Judith R. "Sociometric Structure of a Scientific Discipline," in Robert Alum Jones, editor.
Research in Sociology of Knowledge, Science and Art. Greenich, Conn.: JAI Press, 1978, pp.
191-206,

This reference is in Crane's book (Invisible Colleges). Blau described her work as descriptive
and that is exactly right. She asks respondents this sociometric type question: "Please name two
persons outside your institution with whom you exchange information most frequently about
your work."

She has a 90 per cent return from the 425 people (n = 411) and it is on the basis of this
pseudosociogram that she describes three structures within this group of theoretical High Energy
Physicists. According to her, there are 111 members of an "invisible college," a periphery of 125
others who are members of "linked groups," and 175 "isolates." She makes nothing at all of these
isolates but tries to evaluate the structure in which these others participate. She finds, for
example, that the college members tend to be younger than the others.

At an early point in the paper, she talks about the possible functions of groups within science and
includes - but does not elaborate on - the functions of gossip and informal control. Otherwise the
paper is typically limited: it tells us nothing about how the structure works, if it works at all, and,
in a typical sociometric ploy, it forces the construction of a group by virtue of the questions
asked. Elaborating just a bit further on the methods: with no negative questions asked, one can
obtain no useful picture of the operations of the "buddy system" in science.