Scientometric Research: An overview


The effectiveness of scientific research performance could be realised only through a proper communication system. Communication in science could be viewed from the standpoint of a historian, an economist, a sociologist, and a library professional, and so on. Thus science and scientific communication are so interrelated that one influences the other for the generation of information. Among scientists and social scientists, it is widely accepted that public research performed in academic and governmental research institutions are driving force behind high technology and economic growth. It is true that research makes an important contribution to the economic growth of a nation. Such research output is used as the yardstick for measuring the quality and quantity of research done in a country. It is interesting to note that during the last few years, bibliometric/scientometric tools and techniques have been increasingly used and being used to evaluate the research performance of the scientists and the growth of various disciplines of science. Hence it implies and induces to examine the nature and extent of the contribution made by the scientists of a particular discipline of a country or a few major countries or for a particular period of time by using primary or secondary sources, that facilitates the proper and effective analysis.

Scientometrics: An overview:

Over the last few decades, the field of Library and Information Science (LIS) has developed several quantitative methods for investigation. As Library and Information Science is a widely interdisciplinary field (Nisonger & Davis, 2005)1, academics from various disciplines (including LIS) have played a part in the development of its methods. Often scientists with a different background from Library and Information Science, like Tibor Braun (Chemistry) or Vasily Nalimov (Philosophy), have contributed important concepts. The suffix ‘metrics’ is “derived either from the Latin or Greek word “metricus” or “metrikos” respectively, each meaning measurement” (Sengupta, 1992)2. To date, several different metric fields that deal with the development and application of measurement in the area of Information Science have emerged, such as Librametirics, Bibliometrics, Scientometrics, Informetrics, and more recently Webometrics and Altmetrics. However, all these fields are closely related, especially Bibliometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics, and shows significant overlap.

In 1969, Nalimov and Mulchenko3 coined the Russian equivalent of the term `scientometrics’ (naukometriya), which has grown in popularity ad is used to describe the study of science: growth, structure, interrelationships, and productivity. This term is mainly used for the study of all aspects of the literature of science and technology. The term scientometrics gained wide recognition by the publication of the journal `Scientometrics’ by Tibor Braun in Hungary in 1978. According to Hood and Wilson (2001)4, much of the scientometrics studies are indistinguishable from bibliometrics and many bibliometric researchers are published in the journal “Scientometrics”.

Scientometrics: Definitional Analysis:

Scientometrics has typically been defined as the “quantitative study of science and technology”, as the special topic issue of the Journal of the American Society for Information Science (JASIS).

Nalimov and Mulchenko (1969)5, of Russia, defined scientometrics as the quantitative methods which deal with the analysis of science viewed as an information process. According to Beck (1978)

According to Beck (1978)6, scientometrics has been defined as the quantitative evaluation and intercomparison of scientific activity, productivity and progress.

Brookes (1990)7, gave a further insight into the use and definition and stated that “the scientometrics, nurtured by Tibor Braun, has become fruitful in science policy studies. Its techniques have been developed by small groups of scientists working with single-minded enthusiasm in compact research units notably in Budapest and Leiden. But other research units in Europe, East and West, are beginning to make contributions to scientometric studies. The term has now established a significant role in the social sciences. Applications have so far been restricted to an exploitation of the citation data provided by ISI but further refinements are now being critically examined. Though the techniques of scientometrics and bibliometrics are closely similar their different roles are distinguished by their very different contexts.”

Further, Tague-Sutcliffe (1992)8 defined scientometrics as a “study of the quantitative aspects of science as a discipline or economic activity. It is part of the sociology of science and has application to science policy making. It involves quantitative studies of scientific activities including, among others, publication, and so overlaps bibliometrics to some extent.

Brookstein (1995)9 defined scientometrics as “the science of measuring science”. Scientometrics is also considered as a bibliometric measurement for evaluation of scientific development, social relevance and impact of the application of science and technology etc.

Development of Scientometrics:

The origin of scientometric research can be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century. However, since the early 21st century, the field is growing at an enormous pace and attracts interest far beyond the walls of universities and institutions. One of the most

One of the most recognised accomplishments in the field of Scientometrics is the development of the Impact Factor and the classic work of Eugene Garfield. He first described the Impact Factor in 1955 as a method of selecting journals for inclusion in a genetics citation index he had been developing. This eventually resulted in the publication of the Science Citation Index in 1961 as a means of linking articles together via their references. Since it was first described, journal Impact Factor has developed into a widely used bibliometric indicator.

Around the same time, Derek De Solla Price8 was working on the study of the exponential growth of science and the citation activity of scientific literature. Price published several papers describing the key elements of scientometric analysis, including work on patterns of communication between scientists and the overall history and study of science itself.

There was tremendous growth in the scientometric literature in the 1960s and since then the field of scientometrics has developed and differentiated into several specializations. These were brought together by the launch of the first journal devoted to the field, Scientometrics, founded and edited by Tibor Braun of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. One of the most notable developments is Citation Analysis9.

Original Reference Article:

  • Chitra, V. (2014, January 9). Growth of literature on lung cancer A scientometric analysis (Thesis). Alagappa University, India. Retrieved from http://hdl. handle. net/10603/137718

Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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