Universiteit Leiden

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Ton van Raan

Professor emeritus Quantitative science studies

Prof.dr. A.F.J. van Raan
+31 71 527 2727

Emeritus professor of Quantitative Studies of Science. Ton's research focuses on the application of bibliometric indicators in research evaluation, science as a self-organizing complex system, statistics of bibliometric indicators, ranking and benchmarking of universities, and mapping of science.

More information about Ton van Raan

Ton (A.F.J.) van Raan is emeritus professor of Quantitative Studies of Science. Founder and until 2010 Director of the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS), Leiden University, Netherlands. After his retirement as CWTS Director, he remained research professor. He studied mathematics, physics and astronomy at Utrecht University. PhD in Physics, Utrecht. Post-doctoral fellow at the University of Bielefeld (Germany), visiting scientist in the US, UK, and France. Work in atomic and molecular physics, laser-physics and astrophysics. From 1977 senior research fellow physics in Leiden, in 1985 'field switch' to science and technology studies, 1991 Professor. Research focus: application of bibliometric indicators in research evaluation; science as self-organizing complex system, statistics of bibliometric indicators, ranking and benchmarking of universities, mapping of science. In 1995 he received, together with the American sociologist Robert K. Merton, the Derek de Solla Price Award, the highest international award in the field of quantitative studies of science. He published (as author and co-author) around thirty articles in physics and two hundred in science and technology studies. Prof. van Raan set up a small company Science Consult for advice on research evaluation and science policy issues. On the occasion of his retirement as CWTS director he was awarded by the Queen of the Netherlands with the royal distinction of Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion. For further information see www.cwts.nl/tvr/.

Current projects

  • Sleeping Beauties in Science
    A ‘Sleeping Beauty in Science’ is a publication that goes unnoticed (‘sleeps’) for a long time and then, almost suddenly, attracts a lot of attention (‘is awakened by a prince’). We developed a fast algorithm to detect in the Web of Science from 1980 until now publications that are not or hardly cited in, for instance, 10 years, and then suddenly become highly cited. We find that roughly half of the Sleeping Beauties in physics, chemistry, engineering and computer science are application-oriented and thus are potential sleeping inventions. Sleeping Beauties can also be cited in patents. In this way we make the link between the Sleeping Beauties and technological developments and thus we explore the existence of a 'dormitory of inventions'.
  • Scaling phenomena in science and urban systems
    Important socioeconomic city characteristics such as wealth and innovation capacity exhibit a nonlinear, power law scaling with population size. These findings mean that the larger the city, the more disproportionally they are places of wealth and innovation. Local properties of cities cause a deviation from the expected behavior as predicted by the power law scaling. Also universities show a similar behavior as cities in the distribution of the ‘gross university income’ (in terms of total number of citations) over ‘size’ (in terms of total number of publications). Moreover, the power law exponents for university scaling are comparable to those for urban scaling. Currently we are involved in a project on the relations between spatial scale and governance. This project is supported by the provincial government of South-Holland. You can find here the interim-report Onderzoek Ruimtelijke schaal en synergie in de Zuid-Hollandse netwerkeconomie and here the (draft) paper Urban Scaling and Its Relation with Governance Structures and Future Prospects of Cities.

Professor emeritus Quantitative science studies

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • CWTS

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden




  • No relevant ancillary activities
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