It is difficult to determine the origin of citation practice, but this practice appears to have entrenched in scientific writing along with the emergence of periodical as a carrier of scientific information way back in 18th century. A citation is a reference by the author\u2019s name to the previously recorded information. It identifies much of the earlier work that is pertinent to the subject of the author\u2019s present work. This simple concept formed the basis of citation indexing, which is a relatively new technique of organizing the contents of a collection of document.
Citation indexing technique has enhanced the importance of citations. It is a method of establishing relationship between the document through citation. If a recent paper cites a previous paper, it is assumed that there is some association of ideas between the cited and citing papers. This association is converted in the form of an index keeping the direction from the citation to the citing document.
The first application of this concept was made by Shepard in the discipline of Law in 1873. He prepared an index, namely, Shepard\u2019s Citation Index, of all the decisions of higher courts of United States in such a manner that lawyer could find out the previous decisions regarding similar cases so that he could prove his point. As the doctrine of \u2018Stare Decisis\u2019, which means a lawyer must base his argument on previous decisions regarding similar point of law\u2019, provided rationale for \u2018Shepard\u2019s Citation Index\u2019, so did the \u2018citation practice\u2019 provide the logic for citation indexes for science and technology. Taking cue from Shepard\u2019s Index, Eugene Garfield conducted experiments in the application of this technique in the field of science and technology, and brought out experimental \u2018Science Citation Index\u2019 in 1961.
Footnotes, reference and citation are used synonymously. It is very difficult to make a distinction between them. However, the explanation given hereunder shall help to understand the three terms.
A \u2018footnote\u2019 is a comment given at the foot of the page. It supplements the text and contains a reference, an authority or an explanation of some matter in the text. A common mark is assigned to the footnote and the text, which serves as a link between them. A reference, in the legal sense, is an act of submitting a matter to some person or authority
for consideration, decision or settlement. A citation performs the same function. Appendage of citation to a paper tantamount to advice to the reader of the paper that he may go to the cited document where he would find material to support author\u2019s conclusion.
Scientific tradition necessitates that a reputed scientist should refer to earlier papers which relate to his problem, when he publishes his own paper. These references are supposed to identify those earlier researchers whose concepts, techniques, apparatus, data, etc. were used by the author in bringing out his own paper. The uses of citations can be grouped into two categories \u2013 primary uses and secondary uses.
The three major uses of citation indexes, which are of interest to those who are engaged in research, teaching and technology diffusion, are identification of research projects, evaluation of performance of scientists, and writing history of science.
project, a researcher must assess whether the area of his proposed research has been taken up earlier or not, if yes, can it be taken up for further investigation, whether the research project is viable or not. In order to provide answer to these questions, he must have appropriate data to convince the research managers. The citation indexes are valuable and dependable tools which the researcher can use for this purpose. For example, Science Citation Index is one such tool which can help a researcher to find answers to the above questions so that he could identify a viable project in his discipline. Using various parts of SCI, the researcher can carry out literature survey in his area of interest, and identify a problem for his research.
Shepard\u2019s Citation Index and Science Citation Index were originally designed to help the lawyers and the scientists, respectively to retrieve information of their interest in their respective disciplines. But SCI can now be used as a tool for evaluating the performance of the scientists. By using the SCI database, it is possible to count the number of citations attributed to a given scientist. Frequently cited scientists are those who have standing in their respective disciplines. For example, Eugene Garfield used the SCI database and prepared a list of fifty most cited scientists for 1967. It was found that two of the scientists who appeared in this list got Nobel Prize in 1969. Since there are millions of scientists in the world, producing a list of fifty scientists containing two Nobel Prize winners was a marvelous
achievement. This ability of Citation Index to measure the impact of a scientist\u2019s work has economic consequences. Thus such a tool can be used as an aid for evaluating the present scientific personnel for giving prizes, grants and fellowships, or, for hiring new scientists in order to give impetus to the research programmes.
The definite relationship between the cited and the citing items form the basis of citation indexing. This can be explained with the example of SCI which consists of three parts. The arrangement of its various parts is explained elsewhere in this write up. The citing items are from the current year while the cited items can be from any year in the recorded history. In the Citation Index, the cited and citing authors are juxtaposed. The former, arranged in alphabetical order, are followed by the latter, again in alphabetical order. This order establishes a relationship between the current and past literature in a given subject, and can be exploited for conducting a literature survey for writing the history of science, current trends, etc.
scientists and documentalists. Such uses are listed below:
- Use as a bibliography
- Preparation of ranked lists of periodicals
- Finding out relative use of various types of documents
- Finding out useful life of documents
- Finding out relatedness and dependence of subjects
- Finding out roots of subjects
SCI was first published in 1963. It is published by the Institute of Scientific Information, Philadelphia, USA. It provides an index to the contents of all issues of more than 2500 selected journals published during a calendar year. The covered journals are called \u2018source journals or source documents\u2019, and the articles they contain are called \u2018source articles or source items\u2019. All journals are indexed comprehensively to eliminate doubts as to whether or not a particular article is indexed.
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