I'm interested in quantitative understanding of where new scientific theories come from, and the process by which they grow/develop/become established. This is intended as mainly a sociological/practical question (what sequence of events leads to a new theory, and how can this be helped along) rather than as a philosophical or epistemological question.

It seems like one of the qualitative landmark works in that area is Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". Kuhn describes a sequence of finding anomalies, a crisis, and then (sometimes) a scientific revolution.

In contrast to qualitative inquiry, what quantitative research has been done in this field? Are there any particularly important articles/books that propose a quantitative model?

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    @BenVoigt: It is about the process of doing research. That's something I'm interested in, and I imagine is also of general interest. – Alex I Oct 7 '15 at 6:07
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    The original title was awfully broad. Since you are interested in pointers to articles/books, I have edited the title to clarify (that you're looking for established research, not individual user's thoughts on the subject) and added the reference-request tag. – ff524 Oct 7 '15 at 6:08
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    This is an entirely different discussion: Kuhn was a historian of science (not a philosopher in his own words too) and his work has influenced the contemporary sociology of science. Second, an approach is thin on facts because it's philosophical is flawed argument. Perhaps you can either read more Kuhn or exclude him and be more specific in what you are looking for. – OK- Oct 10 '15 at 2:16
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    This might be more on-topic in history of science... – vonbrand Oct 10 '15 at 23:20

While it is not terribly much more recent than Kuhn, I highly recommend reading "Laboratory Life" by Latour and Woolgar, published in 1979. This book attempts to take both an anthropological and a quantitative approach to the question of how scientific theories are established, and was produced following field-work where one of the authors worked as a technician in a major biological laboratory.

Whereas many philosophers of science such as Kuhn and Popper approach science from a very high-level view, this book instead asks the question of what it is that scientists actually do all day, and why. It views progress in science in terms of micro-scale arguments about the soundness of assertions, and presents several case studies of investigations and investigators, quantifying them with bibliometrics.

I will warn that the presentation includes a heavy dash of post-modernist thought and language that will turn some people off from the work. Personally, I find it to not be particularly problematic---just take certain assertions with a grain of salt, just as you would any other investigative work.

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