Ground truth? Concept-based communities versus the external classification of physics manuscripts

Palchykov, Vasyl; Gemmetto, Valerio; Boyarsky, Alexey; Garlaschelli, Diego
Community detection techniques are widely used to infer hidden structures within interconnected systems. Despite demonstrating high accuracy on benchmarks, they reproduce the external classification for many real-world systems with a significant level of discrepancy. A widely accepted reason behind such outcome is the unavoidable loss of non-topological information (such as node attributes) encountered when the original complex system is represented as a network. In this article we emphasize that the observed discrepancies may also be caused by a different reason: the external classification itself. For this end we use scientific publication data which i) exhibit a well defined modular structure and ii) hold an expert-made classification of research articles. Having represented the articles and the extracted scientific concepts both as a bipartite network and as its unipartite projection, we applied modularity optimization to uncover the inner thematic structure. The resulting clusters are shown to partly reflect the author-made classification, although some significant discrepancies are observed. A detailed analysis of these discrepancies shows that they carry essential information about the system, mainly related to the use of similar techniques and methods across different (sub)disciplines, that is otherwise omitted when only the external classification is considered.
Research areas:
Type of Publication:
bipartite networks; community detection; science of science
EPJ Data Science
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