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H-indexes and impact factors

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The mathematics in papers today
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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Joel Hildebrand was a guy, who was one of the centenarian chemists, he lived over 100. And he... I took freshman chemistry from Joel Hilderbrand, he was the lecturer. Years later, he wrote to me about... he found out about the Citation Index and he wanted to know if I could use citation indexing to prove that the physical chemistry literature had become too mathematical. People have these ideas; they’re looking for some way to, solve, answer to some question. And I never could help him, but he, he had this, he thought maybe it would work that way. But, I think, that in a lot of fields, that happens, that they get so... I don’t know if the word is, obsessed, or carried away with the mathematics that’s behind all these things, that they lose the forest for the trees. And I find so many papers today that I can’t even understand the math at all. You know, it’s just beyond me. Whether that’s good or bad, or not, I don’t know, but that’s not the kind of measurement we were looking for when we first started out. Have you seen that, some of these papers? Well hopefully someone understands them. Some of the papers that are appearing in these journals, I don’t know how they can read them.

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: 1 minute, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009