Strategic Intelligence on Emerging Technologies: Scientometric Overlay Mapping

Daniele Rotolo, Ismael Rafols, Michael M Hopkins, Loet Leydesdorff
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology

This paper examines the use of scientometric overlay mapping as a tool of “strategic intelligence” to aid the governing of emerging technologies. We develop an integrative synthesis of different overlay mapping techniques and associated perspectives on technological emergence across geographical, social, and cognitive spaces. To do so, we longitudinally analyze (with publication and patent data) three case studies of emerging technologies in the medical domain. These are RNA interference (RNAi), human papillomavirus (HPV) testing technologies for cervical cancer, and thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) genetic testing. Given the flexibility (i.e., adaptability to different sources of data) and granularity (i.e., applicability across multiple levels of data aggregation) of overlay mapping techniques, we argue that these techniques can favor the integration and comparison of results from different contexts and cases, thus potentially functioning as a platform for “distributed” strategic intelligence for analysts and decision makers.