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Citation Classics


Eastern European readership
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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We had a lot of friends in Eastern Europe, as you know, because the interesting phenomenon was that... maybe it was a quirk of the censorship system there, while Science and Nature magazine were highly censored, Current Contents was not treated like a normal journal; it was just like a bibliographical tool. Who would have questioned... like you didn’t have to censor Chemical Abstracts, right? All they had to do was copy it. But in the case of Current Contents they apparently ignored the fact that upfront they had these editorials. And so, it became a window on the west for the people in Russia who read, and other countries, especially in Eastern Europe, like Prague and Hungary. Those guys... and whenever I would meet those people I would always say, 'You know, I feel a little strange; do you think I am not behaving morally because I don’t comment on the fact that things aren’t quite the way they should be for East European scientists?' And they say you don’t have to tell us what’s going on, you know, just tell us what is going on in the west, we don’t need to know about what’s going on in Russia or the east. That’s why we were so well known to so many different people, that was, that was the only stuff they could read every week. Now, I was only on certain occasions I’d be conscious of it. That was another reason why I thought it would be interesting. We had the press digest, that was another. We could always pick things out of there of interest to them to give them some kind of a view of the culture. And so, you know, we were very well treated in all these other countries whenever we went there. Many places I never got to, like Prague.

Do you think they used the data to do science policy studies?


In Russia, Eastern Europe.

It’s hard for me to know. I never did specifically ask anyone did the KGB use it, you know. It’s like saying does the CIA use it? How would you know? I can tell you this, it would have been nice if you could have been there when we gave lectures on the mapping of Russian science. When I gave these lectures in Moscow it was clear that we were telling them something about Russian science that they had never heard before. So, if they were using that data they sure weren’t telling their own people about it. So, it was very enlightening for us to point out well you guys are... here’s where your activity is, as far as the western literature is concerned anyhow. I never got the... nobody, I guess, would have ever disputed it, no matter what I said; they wouldn’t have agreed or disagreed. They’d be like... let’s say we’re completely wrong about what we’re saying, are they going to tell us? But nobody ever questioned it. And we identified... I mean, it was pretty accurate. I think it turned out to be a pretty good window on what disciplines they were really involved in. You know, it turned out... all the leading scientists were well known to our leading scientists. And when I went there I was always... this son of the Nobel, Kapitsa, and he knew me and came to different events we had, or lectures they would show up. Ovchinnikov was a leading molecular biologist, he died at a relatively young age later on, and what’s the other guy... there was a guy, Josh Lederberg knew him Spirin, he was famous, a Russian biochemist; all the leading Russian scientists were, were identified by us in one way or another. They may not have shown up as well compared to Americans, because of our bias, but still they were publishing and their work was known, especially the guys in physics. The secret work... we wouldn’t have identified Americans doing secret work either.

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, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009