Critical Assessment of Technological Development: What Can Bibliometrics Reveal?
- Alana M. Soehartono
- Khiam Aik KhorEmail Khiam Aik Khor
Scientific discoveries and innovations have served as the backbone for technological advancements, which can impart societal benefits and address critical needs in areas such as public health. For example, the modern hip implant has proven to be an effective treatment for joint-related diseases like arthritis. In the procedure, artificial joints are used to replace damaged or worn joints which can restore mobility and relieve concomitant pains. Today, many materials and implant parameters such as geometry, shape, and angle are available to surgeons, which can support a positive treatment outcome. Considering the significance, it is of interest to retroactively reflect on the technological evolutionary pathways. Technological assessment is not new, but evaluating the process is necessary for optimizing best-case outcomes. Technological developments follow the cycle of of need and solution, leading to both radical and incremental advancements.
In this work, we examine the research patterns and contributions that have shaped the technical discourse, using a commonplace hip implant material as an illustrative study from the scholarly perspective. In the span of 5 decades, output for polyethylene-related works grew from 2 in the late 1970s, to 2,123 publications in the 2010s, totaling over 4,600 publications with contributions from surgeons, biologists, engineers, physicists, and chemists. We disentangle components within the ecosystem and discuss the validity of insights from a bibliometric perspective. The reconciliation of technological developments to the impact is dependent on the aims of the assessment. Whilst it is found that bibliometrics analysis could help to disambiguate the technological innovations involving materials systems, advanced computer modeling, and detailed clinical trials, there are socioeconomic aspects, such as health systems, that are not easily validated. To maintain a greater degree of neutrality, the assessment of both public and private will benefit the interpretation of a multi-level system.
- Submitted on 15 Feb 2020
- Accepted on 18 May 2020
- Published on 16 Jun 2020
- Peer Reviewed