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Understanding Scientific Literature 9780262040396

Understanding Scientific Literature

A Bibliometric Approach

ISBN-10: 0262040395
ISBN-13: 9780262040396
AUTHOR:
PUBLISHER: MIT Press
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Product Description: The flood of new publications—especially in the sciences—is clearly reaching crisis proportions when both the user of this literature and its manager, the librarian, are in danger of being swamped, when both physical repositories and processing systems are nearing capacity overload. This work was written from the conviction that if this flow of information is to be properly channeled—if as many readers as possible are to be provided with the material they want or directed toward the material they actually need—it is necessary to describe more exactly how vital information is distributed within available subject literatures and to measure the comparative merits of various sources. Optimizing techniques more precise than those provided by intuitive or conventional wisdom are required. The author writes, "In the present work several techniques drawn from information science are identified as being especially pertinent to the problems of libraries, and these techniques are applied to the analysis of a single literature. The intent is not merely to illustrate a range of analytical techniques now available to to libraries in managing collections, but rather to begin a synthesis of them, showing relationships among the elements of new knowledge that they elicit concerning the structure of the literature and the processes occurring within it. It is this understanding of the literature forms and processes, rather than the understanding of the literature's ideational content, that seems to offer the most useful means for prediction and control in the management of library resources. That does not deny at all that the literature itself is ultimately of value for the ideas it contains. But the library does not deal directly with ideas; it makes its contribution to the world of ideas through its effective management of the records of ideas." The techniques the author coordinates stand near the research front of his own rapidly expanding field, information science. Prominent among them are the epidemic theory of literature, the Goffman use of the Zipf-Bradford scattering behavior, citation association, and bibliographic coupling. Moreover, he has chosen a subset of the literature of information science itself as a sufficiently large yet delimited segment of the full range of publication on which he could test these techniques in a systematic and detailed way. Because he is familiar both with the ideas contained within this literature and with its published outlets and formats, he is able to ascertain that all the relevant requirements in procuring and processing it were met from both the user's and the librarian's points of view. The analysis is applied to main, supporting, and citing literature. In a final chapter, this application of the method is evaluated, and more general implications are drawn regarding its possible use in optimizing rather than more simply maximizing library resources—and even if the latter were possible, given the all-too-finite nature of such resources, it would be the less desirable approach.

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PUBLICATION DATE:
PAGES: 80
CATEGORY: Language Arts & Disciplines
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