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Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas

American Association for the Advancement of Science
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Reprinted from SCIENCE, July 15, 1955, Vol. 122, No. 3159, pages 108-111. Citation Indexes for Science A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas Eugene Garfield “The uncritical citation of disputed data by a writer, whether it be deliberate or not, is a serious matter. Of course, knowingly propagandizing unsubstanti- ated claims is particularly abhorrent, but just as many naive students may be swayed by unfounded assertions pre- sented by a writer who is unaware of the criticisms. Buried in scholarly journals, critical notes are increasingly likely to be overlooked with the passage of time, while the studies to which they pertain, having been reported more widely, are apt to be rediscovered.” (I) In this paper I propose a bibliographic system for science literature that can eliminate the uncritical citation of frau- dulent, incomplete, or obsolete data by making it possible for the conscientious scholar to be ayare of criticisms of earlier papecs. It is too much to expect a research worker to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the biblio- graphic descendants of antecedent pa- pers. It would not be excessive to de- mand that the thorough scholar check all papers that have cited or criticized such papers, if they could be located quickly. The citation index makes this check practicable. Even if there were no other use for a citation index than that of minimizing the citation of poor data, the index would be well worth the effort required to compile it. This paper considers the possible util- ity of a citation index that offers a new approach to subject control of the litera- ture of science. By virtue of its different construction, it tends to bring together material that would never be collated by the usual subject indexing. It is best de- scribed as an association-of-ideas index, and it gives the reader as much leeway as he requires. Suggestiveness through association-of-ideas is offered b

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