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A proposal for the Genetic Citation Index


Handing in my dissertation
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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But what happened at Penn, Zellig Harris had agreed on what my, the whole thing when I figured out it worked, I wrote it up in 10 pages. Now Zellig Harris decided to go on a sabbatical, the year I'm supposed to get my degree. And he says to me just before he leaves, 'There's another professor by the name of Hiz, supposed to be an expert on logic or something like that, who'll supervise your graduate work while I'm away'. So, I go to see this guy and I bring him my finished dissertation and he looks at it and he says, 'Are you serious?' I said, 'Well, yeah'. Now I'd proved... I said to him, 'We agreed, I proved it can be done, right, and that's what Harris agreed to'. He says, 'Well, you can't get a doctorate with 10 pages'. And then, so, what happened was, I then decided that in order to satisfy his... I wrote this transformation on grammar of Geneva nomenclature, okay, which was, like, I don't know, 100 pages or something like that. I did a Zellig Harris type analysis of Geneva nomenclature roles, all right, I write this up. He had made up his mind that he was not going to make a decision about my doctorate until Harris got back which would mean I would be delayed for another year. But in the meantime, we ended up playing this game. So, I would bring the dissertation in, and what I did was I put the full text of my dissertation on a Flexowriter. You remember what a Flexowriter is? An automatic typewriter with a tape. Okay, and I run it through the tape, run the thing off. Sylvia Shapiro was working for me then and, of course, we used it for doing direct mail. I mean, those days people... we used to have a process called Hoovenized mail and personalised pictures, you know. You type, it looks like hand typed letter but it's really basically a tape that's run off and then you just change the address. So, I put the dissertation on the tape, I run it off, I take it through to see Professor Hiz, he reads it through and he, he didn't understand what the hell was going on, he didn't understand. And he would look at it and he would, well, make a change here, make a change there and he'd go through it. Made about half a dozen changes, you know. Well, he figured that having made all these changes, I wouldn't be back for another week with another, you had to have a completely perfect typed manuscript. So, I get back the next day, you know, put the tape through and we got another. He was absolutely going crazy trying to keep up with, trying to make changes. So, finally I knew he couldn't make up his mind. And I called Harris, I found out where Zellig Harris was, he was in Rome, Italy and I called him up at his hotel. And basically I said to him, 'Zellig, if you'd...' we were on a first name basis, this is the guy I helped him get a half a million-dollar grant, you know. I said, 'Zellig, either you send a cable or call the chairman of the department to sign my diploma or whatever you, you know, whatever it is you have to do, sign the papers for my degree in June, or I'm going to come over there and I'm going to drag you out of bed'. And, within 2 days there was a cable sent to the chairman, was the... not Hiz wasn't chairman, but the guy was a, I'll think of his name later, the chairman was a comparative linguistics professor [Professor Hoeningswald]. He lives in Swarthmore all the time. And, that was it, but it was quite an experience using technology to beat him at that game. At one point he says, he makes this brilliant statement to me, he says, 'You know, my real advisor was the chairman of the chemistry department at Penn, Alan Day, he was the one that really got me through cos he understood what I was doing, you know'. And Hiz says to me, 'I studied Polish chemistry'. What's that supposed to mean, what's the difference, like, Polish notations supposed to be something different? But, that was how I got my doctorate while I was developing ISI.

Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) was 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: 5 minutes, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009