[Sigcrit-l] Wouters P, "The Citation Culture" - full text available in pdf

Richard Hill rhill at asis.org
Wed Apr 21 11:12:18 EDT 2004

[Posted on behalf of Dr. Eugene Garfield.  Dick Hill]

In January 2000  I sent the listserv a notice about the publication of Paul Wouters' doctoral thesis "The Citation Culture" along with an introduction by me and a brief abstract of the book (reproduced below).

The  author has kindly provided a  full-text electronic version in pdf
format which is available at :

Paul Wouters can be reached at: paul.wouters at niwi.knaw.nl

Best wishes,
Eugene Garfield


Date:         Tue, 18 Jan 2000 17:56:46 -0500
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Subject:      ABS: Wouters, The Citation Culture
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 "The Citation Culture" by Paul Wouters of the The
 Royal Netherlands Academy
 of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam.

 The follwing brief introduction was prepared by Eugene Garfield.

In 1999 Paul Wouters published his doctoral dissertation which was
distributed to many of his colleagues. This is undoubtedly one of the most significant works to be produced in this field since its advent over forty years ago. The work will be published by Stanford University Press in approximately one year. In the meantime Paul has kindly prepared a brief summary and the contents page. It does not include a list of his many tables and illustrations. I do not agree with many of Paul's conclusions but his scholarship is remarkable. He spent many weeks at ISI going through correspondence. He has published many articles not the least of which was his contribution to the symposium on the "History of Science Information Systems" which was held in Pittsburgh in November 1998 and published jointly by ASIS and The Chemical Heritage Foundation of Philadelphia. Eugene Garfield

Paul Wouters, "The Citation Culture", Stanford University Press forthcoming--late 2000 or 2001)


The need for greater accountability of scientific researchers has
created a number of new professions. The scientometrician is one of these experts. They measure science scientifically, often on behalf of science policy officials. The professional scientometrician emerged in the sixties. Their creation is intimately linked to the invention of the Science Citation Index (SCI) by  Eugene Garfield and his collaborators in Philadelphia (USA).

  The Citation Culture argues that the development of scientometrics can best be understood if we analyze this field as both indicator and
embodiment of a recently emerged subculture in science: The Citation
Culture. This subculture has unwittingly and subtly changed core concepts of modern science such as scientific quality and influence. Because of the citation culture, being cited has profoundly changed its meaning over the last two decades, with a number of consequences for scientists. It has moreover contributed to the transformation of the very essence of science policy, notwithstanding scientometrics's apparent lack of outstanding successes. This study tries to explore the possible meaning of the citation culture for the systematic generation of knowledge.

  Today, a scientific publication is easily recognized by its references to other scientific articles or books. Citing behavior seems to vary according to personal traits. Nevertheless, the overall citing properties of the publications within a certain field share the same characteristics. The sciences and humanities host many types of specialty-specific citing culture, each slightly different from the other. The historical development of scientific publishing since the nineteenth century has provided for a fairly stable ensemble of citing cultures in science.

  The gradual development of regular citing behavior in scientific
publishing created a new resource for research as well as policy: citation data. It did not take long before these data began to be used. With hindsight, it seems an almost inevitable outcome of some straightforward reasoning. If researchers cite the work they find useful, often cited  (``highly cited'') work is apparently more useful to scientists than work which receives hardly any citations at all. Hence, the number of times an article is cited, seems to be an accurate measure of its impact, influence or quality. The same is true of the collected articles of one particular scientist, research group, journal or even institution. The more they are cited, the greater their influence. Sloppy work will not often be cited,except in heated controversies --- or so the reasoning goes. Therefore, citation frequency seems a good way of objectively measuring scientific
usefulness, quality, or impact.

 Whatever one's view on the import of being cited, citation frequency is generally supposed to measure something that already exists. This is based on an implicit realist perspective with respect to the process of
scientific communication: the indicator is seen as a more or less direct upshot of scientists' activities. Therefore, citation analysis --- the art of measuring numbers of citations --- provides a window onto the communication processes between scientists.

 This book questions these realist interpretations measuring science by
citations. The citation culture is not a simple aggregate or derivative of citing culture in science. The citation as used in scientometric analysis and science and technology indicators is not identical to the reference produced at the scientist's desk. In other words, the citation is the product of the citation indexer, not of the scientist. The Science Citation Index is moreover not merely a bibliographic instrument. It also creates a new picture of science via bibliographic references found in scientific literature. In this way, the SCI provides a fundamentally new representation of science. By focussing on the seemingly most insignificant entity in scientific communication, the inventors of the SCI have created a completely novel set of signs and of a new symbolic universe. The Citation Culture therefore not only tells how the SCI was created, but also tries to explore its ramifications. It discusses the main properties of the new representation of science as well as its impact on science studies, science policy, and on science itself. Last but not least the book discusses the implications of this perspective for the theoretical foundations of scientometric analyses in general and the search for a citation theory in particular.

 Paul Wouters
 The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
 PO Box 95110
 1090 HC Amsterdam
 The Netherlands
 T 3120 4628654
 F 3120 6658013
 WWW www.niwi.knaw.nl

 Contents Page of THe Citation Culture

 {1.2}Citing cultures}{2}
 {1.3}Unintended consequences of being cited}{3}
 {1.4}An objective representation of science}{5}
 {1.4.2}The {SCI}}{5}
 {1.5}The quest for a citation theory}{8}
 {1.6}The reference and the citation}{10}
 {1.7}The citation representation of science}{12}
 {1.8}Representing scientometrics}{14}

 {2}The creation of the Science Citation Index}{17}
 {2.1}Mixed reception}{17}
 {2.2}Enthusiasm for citation}{22}
 {2.3}The citation introduced to science}{30}

 {3}The building of the Science Citation Index}{59}
 {3.1}Building the index}{59}
 {3.2}Translating the citation concept}{73}

 {4}The science of science}{79}
 {4.1}Welcoming the \emph {SCI}}{79}
 {4.3}The science of science in Russia, the Ukraine,
     and the Soviet Union}{84}
 {4.4}Western science of science}{93}
 {4.5}``Please reply with more data''}{96}
 {4.6}The citation sociologically used}{97}
 {4.7}The citation sociologically explained}{103}

 {5}The signs of science}{107}
 {5.2}Basic properties of the citation}{108}
 {5.3}Producing citations}{110}
 {5.4}Building upon the citation}{115}
 {5.5}Other signs of science: co-word analysis}{126}
 {5.6}A maze of indicators}{128}

 {6}Rating science}{131}
 {6.2}Early Dutch science policy}{135}
 {6.3}Scientometrics within a funding body}{137}
 {6.4}Emerging Dutch science studies}{139}
 {6.5}Science studies for policy}{141}
 {6.6}Indicators for policy}{143}

 {7.2}Collection and organization of the data}{168}
 {7.3}General features}{169}
 {7.4}Has Price's dream come true?}{172}
 {7.5}Who's Who in scientometrics?}{177}
 {7.6}Does scientometrics have its own
 {7.7}What is scientometrics' position?}{191}
 {7.8}Has scientometrics developed a specific

 {8}Representing science}{195}
 {8.2}Summary of the results so far}{195}
 {8.3}A hybrid specialty}{198}
 {8.4}Indicators as translators}{198}
 {8.5}Paradigmatic versus formalized
 {8.6}Indicator theories}{210}
 {8.7}The rise of the formalized}{212}

Executive Director
American Society for Information Science and Technology
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