, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 1631–1645 | Cite as

Extracting and quantifying eponyms in full-text articles

  • Guillaume CabanacEmail author


Eponyms are known to praise leading scientists for their contributions to science. Some are so widespread that they are even known by laypeople (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Darwinism). However, there is no systematic way to discover the distributions of eponyms in scientific domains. Prior work has tackled this issue but has failed to address it completely. Early attempts involved the manual labelling of all eponyms found in a few textbooks of given domains, such as chemistry. Others relied on search engines to probe bibliographic records seeking a single eponym at a time, such as Nash Equilibrium. Nonetheless, we failed to find any attempt of eponym quantification in a large volume of full-text publications. This article introduces a semi-automatic text mining approach to extracting eponyms and quantifying their use in such datasets. Candidate eponyms are matched programmatically by regular expressions, and then validated manually. As a case study, the processing of 821 recent Scientometrics articles reveals a mixture of established and emerging eponyms. The results stress the value of text mining for the rapid extraction and quantification of eponyms that may have substantial implications for research evaluation.


Eponymy Text mining Regular expressions Academic publications 



I am indebted to Prof. Tibor Braun, who brought to my attention his attempts to unveil eponyms from chemistry textbooks (Braun and Pálos 1989, 1990; Braun and Klein 1992) and suggested the use of computing capabilities for eponym mining. I also acknowledge the feedback of Prof. James Hartley and Dr. Gilles Hubert on an earlier version of this article.

Supplementary material

11192_2013_1091_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (343 kb)
Appendix S1. (xlsx 345 KB)


  1. APA. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  2. Ball, P. (2005). Index aims for fair ranking of scientists. Nature, 436(7053), 900. doi: 10.1038/436900a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banks, M. G. (2006). An extension of the Hirsch index: Indexing scientific topics and compounds. Scientometrics, 69(1), 161–168. doi: 10.1007/s11192-006-0146-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bar-Ilan, J. (2008). Informetrics at the beginning of the 21st century: A review. Journal of Informetrics, 2(1), 1–52. doi: 10.1016/j.joi.2007.11.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beaver, D. d. (1976). Reflections on the natural history of eponymy and scientific law. Social Studies of Science, 6(1), 89–98. doi: 10.1177/030631277600600105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beck, M. T., Dubrov, G. M., Garfield, E., & de Solla Price, D. (1978). Editorial statements. Scientometrics, 1(1), 3–8. doi: 10.1007/BF02016836.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boring, E. G. (1964). Eponym as placebo. Acta Psychologica, 23, 9–23. doi: 10.1016/0001-6918(64)90072-1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Braun, T. (2004). Editorial foreword. Scientometrics, 60(1), 9. doi: 10.1023/B:SCIE.0000027301.70522.4c.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Braun, T., & Klein, A. (1992). Shpol’skii fluorimetry: The anatomy of an eponym. Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 11(6), 200–202. doi: 10.1016/0165-9936(92)80042-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Braun, T., & Pálos, A. (1989). Textbook trails of eponymic knowledge in analytical chemistry. Trends in Analytical Chemistry, 8(5), 158–160. doi: 10.1016/0165-9936(89)85033-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Braun, T., & Pálos, A. (1990). The name of the game is fame: Eponyms and eponymy in chemistry. New Journal of Chemistry, 14(8–9), 595–597.Google Scholar
  12. Braun, T., Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2005). A Hirsch-type index for journals [Letter]. The Scientist, 19(22), 8.Google Scholar
  13. Braun, T., Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2006). A Hirsch-type index for journals [Short communication]. Scientometrics, 69(1), 169–173. doi: 10.1007/s11192-006-0147-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Braun, T., Glänzel, W., & Schubert, A. (2010). The footmarks of Eugene Garfield in the journal Scientometrics. Annals of Library and Information Studies, 57(3), 177–183.Google Scholar
  15. Cintas, P. (2004). The road to chemical names and eponyms: Discovery, priority, and credit. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 43(44), 5888–5894. doi: 10.1002/anie.200330074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cole, J. R., & Cole, S. (1972). The Ortega Hypothesis: Citation analysis suggests that only a few scientists contribute to scientific progress. Science, 178(4059), 368–375. doi: 10.1126/science.178.4059.368.Google Scholar
  17. De Bellis, N. (2009). Bibliometrics and citation analysis: From the science citation index to cybermetrics. Lanham: Scarecrow.Google Scholar
  18. Diodato, V. (1984). Eponyms and citations in the literature of psychology and mathematics. Library & Information Science Research, 6(4), 383–405.Google Scholar
  19. Egghe, L., & Rousseau, R. (2006). An informetric model for the Hirsch-index. Scientometrics, 69(1), 121–129. doi: 10.1007/s11192-006-0143-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fernández-Cano, A., & Fernández-Guerrero, I. M. (2003). Eponymy for research evaluation: Spanish cases from the educational field. Research Evaluation, 12(3), 197–203. doi: 10.3152/147154403781776591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Freeman, M. S. (1997). A new dictionary of eponyms. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Friedl, J. E. F. (2006). Mastering regular expressions, 3rd edn. Sebastopol: O’Reilly.Google Scholar
  23. Garfield, E. (1965). Can citation indexing be automated?. In M. E. Stevens, V. E. Giuliano, L. B. Heilprin (eds.), Proceedings of the Symposium on Statistical Association Methods for Mechanized Documentation (pp. 189–192). Washington, DC: National Bureau of Standards. Miscellaneous Publication 269.Google Scholar
  24. Garfield, E. (1973). Uncitedness III—the importance of Not being cited. Current Contents, 8, 5–6.Google Scholar
  25. Garfield, E. (1983). What’s in a name? The eponymic route to immortality. Current Contents, 47, 5–16.Google Scholar
  26. Haines, D. E., & Olry, R. (2003). “James Parkinson did not die of his own personal disease … he died of a stroke” eponyms: Possessive or nonpossessive?. Journal of the History of the Neurosciences, 12(3), 305–307. doi: 10.1076/jhin.12.3.305.16678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hargens, L. L. (2004). What is Mertonian sociology of science? Scientometrics, 60(1), 63–70. doi: 10.1023/B:SCIE.0000027309.30756.6c.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hirsch, J. E. (2005). An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 102(46), 16,569–16,572. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0507655102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jana, N., Barik, S., & Arora, N. (2009). Current use of medical eponyms—a need for global uniformity in scientific publications. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 9(1), 18. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-9-18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kay, H. E. M. (1973). In praise of eponyms [Points of view]. The Lancet, 302(7840), 1256. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(73)90988-4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kelly, D. (2009). Methods for evaluating interactive information retrieval systems with users. Foundation and Trends in Information Retrieval, 3(1–2), 1–224. doi: 10.1561/1500000012.Google Scholar
  32. Kennedy, H. C. (1972). Who discovered Boyer’s Law?. The American Mathematical Monthly, 79(1), 66–67. doi: 10.2307/2978134.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kotz, S., Balakrishnan, N., Read, C. B., & Vidakovic, B. (eds.) (2005). Encyclopedia of statistical sciences, 2nd edn. New York: Wiley. doi: 10.1002/0471667196.Google Scholar
  34. Lease, M., & Yilmaz, E. (2013). Crowdsourcing for information retrieval: Introduction to the special issue. Information Retrieval, 16(2), 91–100. doi: 10.1007/s10791-013-9222-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. MacAskill, M. R., & Anderson, T. J. (2013). Whose name is it anyway? Varying patterns of possessive usage in eponymous neurodegenerative diseases. PeerJ, 1, e67. doi: 10.7717/peerj.67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McCain, K. W. (2011). Eponymy and obliteration by incorporation: The case of the “Nash Equilibrium”. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 62(7), 1412–1424. doi: 10.1002/asi.21536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. McCain, K. W. (2012). Assessing obliteration by incorporation: Issues and caveats. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 63(11), 2129–2139. doi: 10.1002/asi.22719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Merton, R. K. (1942). Science and technology in a democratic order. Journal of Legal and Political Sociology, 1(1), 115–126. doi: 2027/mdp.39015008014428.Google Scholar
  39. Merton, R. K. (1957). Priorities in scientific discovery: A chapter in the sociology of science. American Sociological Review, 22(6), 635–659. doi: 10.2307/2089193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Merton, R. K. (1965). On the shoulders of giants. A Shandean postscript. New York: Free.Google Scholar
  41. Merton, R. K. (1968a). The Matthew effect in science: The reward and communication systems of science are considered. Science, 159(3810), 56–63. doi: 10.1126/science.159.3810.56.Google Scholar
  42. Merton, R. K. (1968b). Social theory and social structure. New York: Free.Google Scholar
  43. Merton, R. K. (1988). The Matthew effect in science, II: Cumulative advantage and the symbolism of intellectual property. Isis, 79(4), 606–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Nature (2012). Gold in the text? [Editorial]. Nature, 483(7388), 124. doi: 10.1038/483124a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Nečas P., & Hejna, P. (2012). Eponyms in forensic pathology. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 8(4), 395–401. doi: 10.1007/s12024-012-9328-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Panush, R. S., Wallace, D. J., Dorff, R. E. N., & Engleman, E. P. (2007). Retraction of the suggestion to use the term “Reiters syndrome” sixty-five years later: The legacy of Reiter, a war criminal, should not be eponymic honor but rather condemnation. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 56(2), 693–694. doi: 10.1002/art.22374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. van Raan, A. F. J. (2006). Comparison of the Hirsch-index with standard bibliometric indicators and with peer judgment for 147 chemistry research groups. Scientometrics, 67(3), 491–502. doi: 10.1556/Scient.67.2006.3.10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Robertson, M. G. (1972). Fame is the spur the clear eponym doth raise [Letter to the editor]. Journal of the American Medical Association, 221(11), 1278. doi: 10.1001/jama.1972.03200240052019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Roeckelein, J. E. (1972). Eponymy in psychology. American Psychologist, 27(7), 657–659. doi: 10.1037/h0033259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Roeckelein, J. E. (1974). Contributions to the history of psychology: XVI. Eponymy in psychology: Early versus recent textbooks. Psychological Reports, 34(2), 427–432. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1974.34.2.427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Roeckelein, J. E. (1995). Naming in psychology: Analyses of citation counts and eponyms. Psychological Reports, 77(1), 163–174. doi: 10.2466/pr0.1995.77.1.163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Rousseau, R., García-Zorita, C., & Sanz-Casado, E. (2013). The h-bubble. Journal of Informetrics, 7(2), 294–300. doi: 10.1016/j.joi.2012.11.012.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Ruffner, J. A. (eds.) (1977). Eponyms dictionaries index. Detroit: Gale Research.Google Scholar
  54. Schreiber, M., Malesios, C., & Psarakis, S. (2012). Exploratory factor analysis for the Hirsch index, 17 h-type variants, and some traditional bibliometric indicators. Journal of Informetrics, 6(3), 347–358. doi: 10.1016/j.joi.2012.02.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Shanahan, F., Houlihan, C., & Marks, J. C. (2013). In praise of the literary eponym—Henry V sign. Quarterly Journal of Medicine, 106(1), 93–94. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcs210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Simonton, D. K. (1984). Leaders as eponyms: Individual and situational determinants of ruler eminence. Journal of Personality, 52(1), 1–21. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1984.tb00546.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smith, D. W. (1975). Classification, nomenclature, and naming of morphologic defects. The Journal of Pediatrics, 87(1), 162–164. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3476(75)80111-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. de Solla Price, D., & Gürsey, S. (1975). Studies in scientometrics I: Transience and continuance in scientific authorship. Ciência da Informação, 4(1), 27–40.Google Scholar
  59. Stigler, S. M. (1980). Stigler’s law of eponymy. In T. F. Gieryn (Eds.) Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, vol 39 (pp 147–157). doi: 10.1111/j.2164-0947.1980.tb02775.x, Robert K. Merton Festschrift Volume.
  60. Stigler, S. M. (1989). Francis Galton’s account of the invention of correlation. Statistical Science, 4(2),73–79. doi: 10.1214/ss/1177012580.zbMATHMathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Száva-Kováts, E. (1994). Non-Indexed Eponymal Citedness (NIEC): First fact-finding examination of a phenomenon of scientific literature. Journal of Information Science, 20(1), 55–70. doi: 10.1177/016555159402000107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Thomas, K. S. (1992). The development of eponymy; A case study of the Southern blot. Scientometrics, 24(3), 405–417. doi: 10.1007/BF02051038.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Trahair, R. C. S. (1994). From Aristotelian to Reaganomics: A dictionary of eponyms with biographies in the social sciences. Westport: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  64. Van Noorden, R. (2012). Trouble at the text mine. Nature, 483(7388), 134–135. doi: 10.1038/483134a.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Wallace, D. J., & Weisman, M. (2000). Should a war criminal be rewarded with eponymous distinction? The double life of Hans Reiter (1881–1969). Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 6(1), 49–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Whitworth, J. A. (2007). Should eponyms be abandoned? No. British Medical Journal, 335(7617), 425. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39308.380567.AD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Woywodt, A., & Matteson, E. (2007). Should eponyms be abandoned? Yes. British Medical Journal, 335(7617), 424. doi: 10.1136/bmj.39308.342639.AD.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhang, C., & Liu, X. (2011). Review of James Hartley’s research on structured abstracts. Journal of Information Science, 37(6), 570–576. doi: 10.1177/0165551511420217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Zusne, L. (1987). Eponyms in psychology: A dictionary and biographical sourcebook. New York, Westport, and London: Greenwood.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science Department, IRIT UMR 5505 CNRSUniversity of ToulouseToulouse Cedex 9France

Personalised recommendations