The way the fields are delineated has been the Achilles' heel of studies analyzing the status and evolution of given scientific areas. Based on van den Besselaar and Leydesdorff's (Mapping change in scientific specialities; a scientometric reconstruction of the development of artificial intelligence, 1996) contribution, the authors propose a systematic and objective method for delineating the field of ecological economics assuming that aggregated journal-journal citation relations is an appropriate indicator for the disciplinary organization of the sciences. They found that the relational scientific backbone of ecological economics comprises 7 main journals: American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Ecological Economics, Environment and Development Economics, Environmental and Resources Economics, Land Economics, Land Use Policy, and Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. From the 3727 articles published between 2005 and 2010 in the ecological economics field, and the corresponding 142 thousand citations two main outcomes emerged: 1) the intellectual frame of reference is overwhelmed by economists and environmental and resources economists with (renowned) ecological economists relatively underrepresented; 2) the building of an integrative knowledge domain is not apparent: on the one hand, ecological economics is seen to be an 'unbound' heterodox and multidisciplinary field, but on the other hand, and somewhat awkwardly, it is (still) heavily 'bound' by quantitative mainstream/ orthodox methodologies.
ecological economics philosophy of science bibliometrics