Author: E. Garfield
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  • 1 Institute for Scientific Information 3501 Market Street 19104 Philadelphia PA USA
  • | 2 The Scientist 3600 Market Street 19104 Philadelphia PA USA
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Abstract  

Theories of citation are as elusive as theories of information science, which have been debated for decades. But as a basis for discussion I offer the term citationology as the theory and practice of citation, including its derivative disciplines citation analysis and bibliometrics Several maxims, commandments if you will, have been enunciated. References are the results of a specialized symbolic language with a citation syntax and grammar. References, like words, have multiple meanings which are related to the aposteriori quality of citation indexes. Therefore, citation relevance cannot be predicted. Mathematical microtheories in bibliometrics abound, including the apposite laws of scattering and concentration. Citation behavior is a vast sub-set of citation theory, which like citation typology, can never be complete. Deviant citation behavior preoccupies certain authors but it is rarely significant in well-designed citation analyses, where proper cohorts are defined. Myths about uncitedness and the determinants of impact are discussed, as well as journal impact factors as surrogates and observations on scientists of Nobel Class. After two years at Johns Hopkins investigating “machine documentation,” and another year as a student of library science, I became, fortuitously, a documentation consultant. By 1954, I called myself an information engineer, which was an apt description of my professional consulting activities. However, Pennsylvania licensing law requires that engineers be graduates of engineering schools. So I became an information scientist! I've never thought of myself as an information theoretician and have been skeptical about a need for a theory of information science. I've practiced information science and engineering without explicit theoretical support. But undoubtedly there are underlying principles which can guide information scientists who, like myself, could be called “citationists” or “citationologists”. If there is a theory and practice of citation, it should probably be called citationology.