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Toward a definition of “bibliometrics”


The definitions of the term ‘bibliometrics’ as used in the literature are examined and evaluated. Most such definitions are held to be too broad. A new definition is proposed; then its advantages and possible defects pointed out. A crucial question is whether Zipf's law of word occurrence should be considered a part of this particular sub-discipline.

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  1. 1.

    The word does not appear in: R. W. BURCHFIELD (Ed.),A Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, At the Clarendon Press, Vol. I, 1972.

  2. 2.

    R. A. FAIRTHORNE, Empirical hyperbolic distributions (Bradford-Zipf-Mandelbrot) for bibliometric description and prediction,Journal of Documentation, 25 (1969) 319.

  3. 3.

    A. PRITCHARD, Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics?,Journal of Documentation, 25 (1969) 348.

  4. 4.

    E. W. HULME,Statistical Bibliography in Relation to the Growth of Modern Civilization, London, Printed for the Author by Butler & Tanner; Grafton & Company, 1923.

  5. 5.

    A. THACKRAY, Measurement in the Historiography of Science, in: Y. ELKANA, J. LEDERBERG, R. MERTON, A. THACKRAY, H. ZUCKERMAN (Eds),Toward a Metric of Science: The Advent of Science Indicators, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1978, p. 11–30.

  6. 6.

    G. R. WITTIG, Statistical bibliography-a historical footnote,Journal of Documentation, 34 (1978) 240.

  7. 7.

    PRITCHARD, 1969 (op. cit., note 3) 349.

  8. 8.

    B. C. PERITZ, On the careers of terminologies; the case of bibliometrics,Libri, 34 (1984) 233.

  9. 9.

    U. S. LIBRARY oF CONGRESS, SUBJECT CATALOGING DIVISION, Library of Congress Subject Headings, 9th ed., Washington, Library of Congress, 1980, Vol. 1, p. 238.

  10. 10.

    FAIRTHORNE, 1969 (op. cit., note 2) 319.

  11. 11.

    A. SCHRADER, Teaching bibliometrics,Library Trends, 30 (1981) 151.

  12. 12.

    B. R. BOYCE, D. H. KRAFT, Principles and theories in information science, in: M. E. WILLIAMS (Ed.),Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, Vol. 20, White Plains, N. Y., Knowledge Industry Publications, Inc., 1985, p. 163.

  13. 13.

    F. DE GLAS, Fiction and bibliometrics: Analyzing a publishing house's stocklist,Libri, 36 (1986) 40.

  14. 14.

    W. G. POTTER, Introduction,Library Trends, 30 (1981) 5.

  15. 15.

    A. PRITCHARD, in collaboration with G. R. WITTIG,Bibliometrics, A Bibliography and Index, Vol. 1, Watford, Hertz., U. K., ALLM Books, 1981, p. 3.

  16. 16.

    F. MACHLUP, U. MANSFIELD, Cultural diversity in studies of information, in: MACHLUP, MANSFIELD (Eds),The Study of Information, Interdisciplinary Messages, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1983.

  17. 17.

    J. H. SHERA, Librarianship and information science, in: MACHLUP, MANSFIELD (Eds), 1983 (op cit., note 16) p. 381.

  18. 18.

    P. WILSON, Bibliographical R&D, in: MACHLUP, MANSFIELD (Eds), 1983 (op cit., note 16), p. 392.

  19. 19.

    F. NARIN,Evaluative Bibliometrics: The Use of Publication and Citation Analysis in the Evaluation of Scientific Activity, Cherry Hill, N. J., Computer Horizons, Inc., 1976.

  20. 20.

    W. G. POTTER, 1981 (op cit., note 14) 6.

  21. 21.

    H. YOUNG (Ed.),The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science, Chicago, American Library Association, 1983, p. 22 (Italics in original.)

  22. 22.

    E. GARFIELD, M. V. MALIN, H. SMALL, Citation Data as Science Indicators, in: Y. ELKANA et al. (Eds), 1978 (op cit., note 5), p. 180.

  23. 23.

    D. NICHOLAS, M. RITCHIE,Literature and Bibliometrics, London, Clive Bingley, 1978, p. 9, 31.

  24. 24.

    R. PRYTHERCH (Ed.),Harrod's Librarians' Glassary, 5th ed., Aldershot, Hants., U. K., Gower, 1984, p. 74.

  25. 25.

    D. T. HAWKINS, Unconventional Uses of on-line information retrieval systems: On-line bibliometric studies,Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 28 (1977) 13.

  26. 26.

    J. C. DONOHUE, A bibliometric analysis of certain information science literature,Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 23 (1972) 313.

  27. 27.

    I. K. RAVICHANDRA RAO, Informetrics vis-a-vis bibliometrics,Newsletter of the International Federation for Documentation, Committee for Informatrics, No.1 (1985) 4.

  28. 28.

    B. K. FERRANTE, Bibliometrics: Access in the library literature,Collection Management, 2 (1978) 199.

  29. 29.

    BOLT BERANEK AND NEWMAN, INC,Toward the Library of the 21 st Century, Cambridge, Mass., The Firm, 1964, p. 6 43.

  30. 30.

    For examples: A. BOOKSTEIN, The bibliometric distributions,Library Quarterly, 46 (1976) 416; A BOOKSTEIN, Explanations of the bibliometric laws,Collection Management, 3 (1979) 151; R. E. WYLLYS, Empirical and theoretical bases of Zipf's law,Library Trends, 30 (1981) 53.

  31. 31.

    A. F. BROWN (Comp.),Normal and Reverse English Word List, Prepared at the University of Pennsylvania under a contract with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, 1963, Vol. 1, p. v.

  32. 32.

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    T. N. RAJAN, Informatics: The concept and its ramifications,Newsletter of the International Federation for Documentation, Committee for Informetrics, No. 1 (1985) 1.

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    D. DE SOLLA PRICE, The parallel structures of science and technology, in: B. BARNES, D. EDGE (Eds)Science in Context, Readings in the Sociology of Science, Cambridge, MA, MIT Press, 1982, p. 167.

  35. 35.

    J. VLACHY, Scientometric analysis in physics. A bibliography of publication, citation, and mobility studies,Czechoslovak Journal of Physics, Section B, 35 (1985) 2.

  36. 36.

    J. VLACHY, Scientific analysis in physics-Where we stand,Czechoslovak Journal of Physics, Section B, 36 (1986) 1.

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Broadus, R.N. Toward a definition of “bibliometrics”. Scientometrics 12, 373–379 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02016680

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  • Crucial Question
  • Word Occurrence