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Russian colleagues and travelling on the Trans-Siberian Railway

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George Vladutz and VV Nalimov
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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I think I had somehow gotten over to VINITI to meet the people there, Nalimov may have been there, but George Vladutz remembered me from that. He didn’t introduce himself, but he had been there. Later he wrote to me. When he emigrated from Russia, which was a difficult thing for them to do, he wound up... the Jewish people who left Moscow went through Rome, and from Rome he called me or cabled me that he was there and we tried to help him out in some way, and eventually it worked out he came here, he worked for us. But he was the Russian authority on organic notation systems, research in literature and so forth. He remembered my visit in '61, I remember that; so, that’s how we got to know George. And he was a character in himself too. God, he was weird. When Beta Starchild was working here I had people say, 'Do you think George Vladutz is a KGB agent or something like that, you know he’s such a peculiar guy?' Because the way the Russians, if you live in a society like that you become so paranoid, I think, about the way people behave. He was so political, you know, everything he did was manipulative. There’s a certain bureaucratic approach to things he has, and other people I won’t mention that we know that behaved that way. So, anyhow. But I think Nalimov had worked at VINITI at some point. I don’t know the exact sequence because he had been in a gulag for about 15 years as, I think... his family had a history of religious protest and what have you. It’s all, it’s all documented. And his wife is, I think, publishing a translation of his autobiography, or something like that. He then, being a polymath, and being a brilliant statistician and mathematician, quickly caught onto the idea of, you know, the use of measurement in science policy, and that’s how he invented the word 'scientometrics'. As we’ve mentioned many times, it was eventually that document, that book was translated by some government agency, I don’t know whether it was the CIA or whoever, they never put their name on anything, but it was available free as a document, a technical report. It was not cited all that much because it wasn’t being disseminated widely. But because of the east-west connection in Hungary, Tibor Braun picked up on that, and Nalimov was an early member of the board, and you and I were on the board early on, and Derek, and that's how he picked up the word scientometrics, directly taken from the title of the book. So, it’s, it’s just basically it was an appropriate synonym for science of science, which was a very awkward term, I think. That would never fly in English; it’s just too repetitive to say science of science. What the hell does that mean, you know. It’s just the application of measurement to social science policy, science policy studies.

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: 4 minutes, 17 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009