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The future; information Nirvana

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Hit lists and baseball cards for science
Eugene Garfield Scientist
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I’ve always encouraged editors and journals that they should try and do something about identifying their, the citation classics in their field. JAMA, you remember when JAMA ran that series of articles, milestone papers, they called them and it turned out to be that many of them, but not all of them, are highly-cited classics. And I think, ISI could do it, and do it not only for highly-cited papers, but highly-cited books too. Very viable, if you think about, what the public library wanted to know which were the most cited books and they aren’t always going to be the ones that would necessarily point to what should be kept. But I can’t imagine that a citation classic book would not be kept on the shelf for quite a while. Apart from determining that something is a classic otherwise, so... A hot paper, kind of, sounds temporary, doesn’t it? I mean, it should be because it’s hot for a while. How long, does it remain hot forever? A classic, I guess, eventually becomes, a classic is important whether it’s useful anymore; it’s interesting historically, it was a classic, and therefore it’s something you should know about as an important, historical event in science; something that gets cited and is often used, clearly ought to be of interest to a lot of people. I think we have a capacity to read the titles of thousands of classics if we, if we keep at it long enough. That’s why Current Contents, you know, every week, you were getting a list of highly-cited papers. Well, how long does it take you to read that list? It tells you something about what’s going on, of all the things you could read. So, hit... lists of hits, hit lists are very popular, especially in music, so why not science? Something else I think that, that project that I always wanted to encourage in advertising – somebody ought to do more about putting out the equivalent of baseball cards for scientists. You can get card decks of scientists, so you could get kids trading in Nobel Prize winners, I’ll trade you two Joshua Lederbergs for three Albert Einsteins. That ought not to be so difficult to do; I think it would be a great thing to promote the product, some product. It’s the kind of thing that Ellis Rubinstein would probably like to do for the New York Academy of Sciences. He’s, he’s turned out to be quite a promoter for the Academy.

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, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2007

Date story went live: 23 June 2009