An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Conference series on neutron activation analysis (NAA) in life sciences has been compared to another IAEA conference series and to two other conference series. No great differences in multiple attendees, speakers, chairmen, or diversity of session subjects was seen. The NAA meetings do appear to be less formalized than the others.
The first Modern Trends in Activation Analysis Conference at Texas A&M in 1961 listed 23 papers from 19 different North American
institutions and 9 papers from 8 different overseas laboratories. Second, third, fourth and fifth conferences were held in
1965 (Texas A&M), 1968 (N.B.S. Washington, DC), 1972 (Saclay, France) and 1976 (Munich, Germany). In contrast to the first
conference, at the 1976 Munich meeting 34 papers from 21 different North American laboratories were presented along with 142
papers from 85 different non-North American establishments. The 1981 conference is expected to be even larger. A scientometric
study was made of speakers, their institutions and nationalities, included in these five conferences. The objective was to
see what patterns of participation could be discerned. In addition program content was evaluated by categorizing papers and
ascertaining which topics had declined, grown, or emerged as new trends as the conferences progressed. The results from these
studies present an interesting picture of how activation analysis has evolved: some countries that were originally quite active
seem to have dropped interest; others have rapidly risen to preeminence. This is especially true of institutions, some of
which have even disppeared from the scene. Not too surprisingly some of the speakers at the 1961 conference have appeared
on other Modern Trend programs, and a few will probably appear in 1981. Some general conclusions about activation analysis
conferences in general and the Modern Trends Conferences in particular can be drawn from these and other data.
A scientometric study of communication and growth of a new development of physics, resonance ionization spectroscopy, has
been made. Formal (journal publications) and informal (talks, lecures) communication patterns have been studied. Self citation
dominates in early publications, but drops off as the field expands. Informal communication leads formal only by about a year
in time, but is much larger in number.
How shall we define the quality of a published piece of research or are we able to find a less emphatic way to assess quality? The paper tries to answer these questions and comes to the conclusion that citation analysis might be refined to prove an objective index of importance. On the basis of citation analysis an attempt is made to find research papers published in the Journal of Radioanalytical Chemistry 1968–1981 which had a remarkable impact on the subfield of radioanalytical chemistry.