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Eugene Garfield Founds Citation Analysis


In 1955, a short time after completing the final report on the Welch Medical Library Indexing Project, Eugene Garfield published "Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas," Science, Vol. 122, No. 3159, 108-11. This paper may be the foundation of "bibliometrics" or citation analysis.

"Eugene Garfield . . . was deeply involved in the research relating to machine generated indexes in the mid-1950's and early 1960's. One of his earliest points of involvement was a project sponsored by the Armed Forces Medical Library (predecessor to our current National Library of Medicine). The Welch Medical Library Indexing project, as it was called, was to investigate the role of automation in the organization and retrieval of medical literature. The hope was that the problems associated with subjective human judgement in selection of descriptors and indexing terms could be eliminated. By removing the human element, one might thereby increase the speed with which information was incorporated in to the indexes. It might also increase the cost-effectiveness of the indexes. Garfield grasped early on that review articles in the journal literature were heavily reliant on the bibliographic citations that referred the reader to the original published source for the notable idea or concept. By capturing those citations, Garfield believed, the researcher could immediately get a view of the approach taken by another scientist to support an idea or methodology based on the sources that the published writer had consulted and cited as pertinent in the bibliography. As retrieval terms, citations could function as well as keywords and descriptors that were thoughtfully assigned by a professional indexer."

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