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The mathematics in papers today

RELATED STORIES

Errors and how they affect retreival
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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A guy like Josh Lederberg who was a, was an early proponent of open access type of publication, you know, un-refereed publication; so if you want to stake your reputation on publishing junk, without it being refereed, great! It’s your chance, if you’re willing to take that chance, fine. So let the chips fall where they may. But, sooner of later, somebody else is going to call you out. And, that’s one think I have found: if people can find a mistake in your work, they’ll be very happy to point it out. Right? Look at how much, look how much junk was published about all the errors, the alleged errors in the literature, you know, with all that group in Amsterdam taking, you know, and eventually it proved to be 7%, was it, on the...? And what’s the definition of an error? And when I said, what’s... it doesn’t matter how many errors there are, how does it affect retrieval? It’s not how many errors there are, but how does it affect things? So, if somebody misspells your name, did it mean complete loss of the information? And when, in fact, there are ways that we are correcting those kinds of variations, and so on. So the statistics of variations doesn’t prove anything. Do you know the work of this guy, Chaudhry and Simpkins? These fellows that are, I think they’re physicists or electrical engineers, or some computer guys. They’ve published in JASIS recently, a paper about... they claim that errors were being perpetuated, because people were... and what it turned out– I wish I had documented it at the time, I should have been more careful about that... I checked what their statements were, and what they didn’t know, that if you look up a citation in the SCI, that, just because the variant that ISI uses occurs in the list of, let’s say, 50 citations, that’s not the way they occurred in the actual article, because we unify them. So if there’s an error in, in one citation, it doesn’t mean that it’s repeated 50 times. And they make that assumption, that the errors that were repeated were dupes of the authors repeating the error in the, in the actual paper, rather than ISI unifying them under that. So, if you don’t know the intricacies of the way the indexes are put together, you can jump to these false conclusions. So... but I don’t know, since then, I don’t know whether they’ve corrected their work or not, but I see they’re still at it. I just don’t have the time and the energy to go through all the math these guys put up.

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: 3 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009