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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2001

Book Reviews

The Web of Knowledge: A Festschrift in Honor of Eugene Garfield

Jane Duffy
Physics/Astronomy Librarian
Ohio State University

Cronin, Blaise and Helen Barsky Atkins, eds. The Web of Knowledge: a Festschrift in Honor of Eugene Garfield. ASIS Monograph Series. Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2000. (ISBN: 1-57387-099-4) $49.50 cloth.

Attending discussions about academic issues of promotion and tenure, ranking of journals, and other measures of scholarly merit, one frequently comes across references to the value and applications of the Science Citation Index. In the last four decades since the development of the SCI, the merits of this index as a measure of the "symbolic capital in the academic marketplace" are still hotly debated. A tribute to Eugene Garfield, pioneer and proponent of citation analysis as well as founder of the Institute for Scientific Information, The Web of Knowledge is a festschrift celebrating the highest international regard for Garfield's contribution to the field of information science.

Edited by Blaise Cronin (author of The Competitive Edge, A Transatlantic Perspective on Information Management, and Intelligent Management Systems for Intelligent Corporations) and Helen Barsky Atkins, The Web of Knowledge is a compilation of articles, each discussing an aspect of the study of scientific information. All facets of the emerging discipline of the study of science information are covered, including its history and development, some evaluative analyses, and the social consequences of the citation network. To aid the reader's navigation through the wealth of material therein, The Web of Knowledge's 26 articles are organized within a framework of five thematic headings.

The first section of four articles, gathered under the heading "Historical Perspectives," narrates Garfield's leadership in the field of information science, tracing his career as a "scientist-scholar-entrepreneur" and developer of the Science Citation Index. The evolving placement of the SCI within the realm of information databases is also treated. The second thematic grouping of articles, "The Scientific Literature," addresses the current utility of the SCI, including discussions of the special nature of journal literature, its role in the development of scientific knowledge and the application of bibliometrics to journal information. "International Issues" includes articles that address the impact of scientific information and its measurement globally, as well as within specific Latin American, Indian, Chinese and European research cultures.

The focus of The Web of Knowledge then narrows to a study of citation measurement. A well-balanced discussion addressing both the merits and constraints of citation analysis is found in the next grouping of articles on "Evaluative Bibliometrics," which deals with the application of citation measurements to various streams of scientific research. Especially interesting here is Anthony F. J. van Raan's article "The Pandora's box of citation analysis: measuring scientific excellence - the last evil" which traces the range and depth of research profiles among institutes, which are described as the first stops in "the search for [academic] excellence." How researchers of the measurement of science -- or "scientometricians" -- interface with methodologists in other social science disciplines such as economics, is described in Arthur M. Diamond, Jr.'s "The complementarity of scientometrics and economics," and is required reading for anyone interested in the value and interdisciplinary applicability of quantitative measurements of scholarship. The five final articles, which address the concept of "Social Network Analysis", especially amplify the book's title. See especially Howard D. White's "Toward ego-centered citation analysis" for a demonstration of the document retrieval capabilities of the SCI and Lowell L. Hargens' "Graphing micro-regions in the web of knowledge: a comparative reference-network analysis" for a well-illustrated assessment of how scholarship develops in specific research areas.

The Web of Knowledge: A Festschrift in Honor of Eugene Garfield is highly recommended for librarians and other information specialists who seek authoritative analyses of scholarly scientific publishing. Its contents would be of interest as well to academics that question the validity of quantitative analysis of their scholarly work. For the researcher of scientific communications, tables, charts and matrices abound; bibliographies and notes are found after each article. And for those wishing to concentrate on a particular aspect of science information, the back-of-book index is truly excellent.

The Web of Knowledge, the book's working metaphor for the science citation network, illuminates not only the organic nature of the scientific information community, but also the means by which individual recognition is achieved within it. The "invisible college" has never been more elegantly described.

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