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Conceptual Metaphors and Empirical Leaps: Measuring Scientific Innovation and its Impact

The goal of scientific work is to create new knowledge and innovations, but quantifying innovation has been viewed as impossible (Dogan and Pahre 1990). I argue that one way to generate original, innovative research is to span specialty areas within a field and I develop two quantitative measures of this process using data collected for this purpose. I use these measures to test theoretical ideas about the risks and benefits inherent in innovative work, focusing my analysis on the discipline of sociology. I find that with the exception of the American Sociological Review, integrative papers are no less likely to appear in prestigious journals, suggesting few publication-related risks to engaging in integrative research. And the benefits, at least in terms of visibility and impact, are quite large: integrative papers, once published, garner a significantly greater number of citations from subsequent scholars. The results of this paper suggest that integration has the potential to be a healthy antidote to undue specialization and fragmentation in the field.