Journal of Responsible Innovation. 2015;.
With growing attention to societal issues and implications of synthetic biology, we
investigate sources of social science publication knowledge in synthetic biology and
probe what might be learned by comparison with earlier rounds of social science research
in nanotechnology. “Social science” research is broadly defined to include publications
in conventional social science alongside humanities, law, ethics, business, and policy
fields. We examine the knowledge clusters underpinning social science publications
in nanotechnology and synthetic biology using a methodology based on the analysis
of cited references. Our analysis finds that social science research in synthetic
biology already has traction and direction, rooted in an ethical, legal and social
implications framework. However, compared with nanotechnology, social science research
in synthetic biology could further explore opportunities and openings for engagement,
anticipatory, and downstream application perspectives that will help to build a wider
platform for insights into current and future societal impacts.