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Getting my paper published in Science

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The vice president of Johns Hopkins University had been asked to be the introductory speaker at the project, at the symposium. And he, in his talk, he made a remark that became quite frequently quoted later on, that man was, that scholars were going to drown in a flood of information. And his name was Lowell Reed and so, his remarks, maybe with a little help from, I don't know if they had a PR team at the Johns Hopkins, he was vice president of the university, was picked up by the news services and the headlines were, 'Man to drown in a sea of knowledge', or something, like, that. That produced all kinds of letters that we got from various people outside, even, academe who were interested in what we were doing. But in particular, I remember not one... we heard from the librarian at San Quentin. It was interesting how... he was apparently one of the more progressive librarians in the country. But another person that wrote to me, wrote to the project rather, or to me or to the project, and I made, I hope I still have the original, it was written in green ink, handwritten and it was a letter from William C Adair who was the former vice president of Shepard's Citations in New York, okay. I had never heard of Shepard's Citations at that point and in his letter he said to me that way back in the '20s, way back, I mean, at that point we were talking 1953 so, it was 30 years back, he had had discussions with, with some engineering or physics society about the idea of, what they call a citatory system for science. And I, and I think basically he said that they had considered it but the project was totally impractical because, whereas they were doing case law, you know, and it's important historically, people don't even seem to know this, there was no citation index at that time for law journals. It came later, they came, that came out, Shepard's produced that citation for the law journals only after we started the SSCI, okay, because librarians started complaining to them about why, why didn't they have a citation indexing for journals. So anyway, they had figured out there was just too much literature. You know, law has got a lot of similar cases - it's nothing like the size of the scientific literature. So, nothing came out of it and then so, he said to me, he thought he would just call this to my attention and I thought, I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. So, I went down to the Enoch Pratt Free Library which is a central library in Baltimore and went into the reference room and that's when I saw what a, what a citation, what a, what Shepard's Citations was. And I literally screamed out, 'Eureka!' and I... cos what had happened was, I had been, Chauncey Leake had told me to focus my attention on review journals, right. And I had done an analysis of review articles and tried to figure out why they were so interesting and useful to people and they clearly were. And he was one of the editors, I think a band of reviewers at the time and in fact, he used to write a column, review of reviews, review of reviews. And I could see that basically a review article was, speaking in you know theoretical terms, just a, just a continuous string of indexing statements, you know, so and so has reported this, so and so has reported that, and it made sense. At the end of the sentence was this citation, right. So, if you took the sentence, that's an indexing of that document and the more I thought about it I thought, 'Gee, this is, this is an incredible idea', and trying to convert those indexing statements to what, I didn't know how to construct the index from reviews. You know, I had the idea to use index reviews but how would you use them, you know, as indexing statements? I would compare them to what Chemical Abstracts did in the way of indexing, you know. It's a different, you know, it's a different level. They were at a linguistic level, this is a, a different contextual level. So, when I saw Shepard's then I realised that the, the index had to be inverted. Instead of having the indexing terms you had to have the document as the focus and then, then the statements that fall in. That was basically it.

Eugene Garfield is an American scientist and publisher. In 1960 Garfield set up the Institute for Scientific Information which produced, among many other things, the Science Citation Index and fulfilled his dream of a multidisciplinary citation index. The impact of this is incalculable: without Garfield’s pioneering work, the field of scientometrics would have a very different landscape, and the study of scholarly communication would be considerably poorer.

Listeners: Henry Small

Henry Small is currently serving part-time as a research scientist at Thomson Reuters. He was formerly the director of research services and chief scientist. He received a joint PhD in chemistry and the history of science from the University of Wisconsin. He began his career as a historian of science at the American Institute of Physics' Center for History and Philosophy of Physics where he served as interim director until joining ISI (now Thomson Reuters) in 1972. He has published over 100 papers and book chapters on topics in citation analysis and the mapping of science. Dr Small is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an Honorary Fellow of the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services, and past president of the International Society for Scientometrics and Infometrics. His current research interests include the use of co-citation contexts to understand the nature of inter-disciplinary versus intra-disciplinary science as revealed by science mapping.

Duration: 6 minutes, 24 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009