I'm interested in the birth / death / life cycle of scientific fields over time, and looking for quantitative metrics that suggest whether a particular scientific field is in decline. A simple and common metric (from the field of bibliometrics) is the number of publications in a given time period, but I'd like to delve deeper: e.g., consider to what degree researchers in a subfield are building on each others' work, versus pursuing independent and idiosyncratic lines of inquiry that don't materially engage with others. (I'm focusing on fields in social science, in case the context matters.) I have two specific questions:
Suppose I have a database of publications and citations for a particular subfield over a given time period. What network measure would allow me to show how cohesive the field is, as measured by the citation network? (My best guess is the distribution of the cardinality of connected components; are there other metrics to consider?)
What other papers should I read, that have measured the decline and death of scientific fields? I'm not the first person to look for metrics on the rise and decline of scientific fields – but all the papers I've found (e.g., this one) focus mainly on the number of publications in a time period. This seems well suited for establishing that a subfield is well on the way to death, but less good for measuring 'warning signs', e.g., in a field that may be in declining health even as the number of papers remains roughly constant. Are there papers that have used network or bibliometric measures to look for signs of decline, using metrics other than sheer number of publications?
If there is another forum/community that matches the question better, please let me know.