In some studies of scientific creativity it has proved useful to assess the differential eminence of scientists according to their presence in historical record (as registered by scholarly works). To determine the research utility of such indicators, a sample of 2026 scientists spanning several centuries and nationalities was taken from three biographical dictionaires of science. The eminence of each scientist was gauged 23 distinct ways using a diversity of reference works (e.g., histories, biographical dictionaires, encyclopedias, etc.) and variable operationalizations (e.g., space measures, ratings, rankings, etc.). Despite minor discrepancies due mainly to the degree of timewise bias and reference work type, a factor analysis demonstrated the existence of a pervasive concensus. A linear composite of these measures had an reliability of 0.78. Further, it was shown that (a) the reliability of assessed eminence somewhat declines as it is applied to more recently born scientists, (b) the reliability remains high within separate disciplines and nationalities, and (c) assessed eminence, once complex time trends are controlled, correlates positively with the more commonly used citation counts, especially the number of cited publications. Hence, archival indicators of scientific eminence are both reliable and consistent with other scientometric procedures.
Two major interpretations of multiples have been offered, the traditional one based on the scientific zeitgeist, the more recent one based on chance processes. To clarify the issues involved in any plausible explanation, six successive Monte Carlo simulations were developed. Though all models started with the same underlying probabilistic mechanism, several elaborations were introduced, including exhaustion, communication of both successes and failures, and variation in success probability. The models yield the same probability distribution for multiple grades, but they disagree on the frequency of nulltons. Additional Gedanken experiments dealt with the zeitgeist notions of a causal link between potential contributions.
Brannigan andWanner argue that the empirical distribution of multiple grades can be more adequately explained in terms of a negative contagious poisson model. This alternative is based on a Zeitgeist theory which places emphasis on the role of communication in scientific discovery. Nonetheless, a detailed analysis indicates the following: (a) mathematically, the simple Poisson is the limiting case of the contagious Poisson when the contagion parameter approaches zero; (b) empirically, the mean and variance are so nearly equal (i. e., the contagion effect is very small) that predictions from the contagious Poisson are virtually equivalent to those of the simple Poisson; (c) in particular, both distributions predict that multiples are less common than singletons and even nulltons, the latter occurring with a probability of over one third (thereby implying that chance plays a much bigger part than Zeitgeist or maturational theories would suggest); (d) estimates from theSimonton, Merton, andOgburn-Thomas data sets all concur that the contagion effect is not only small, but positive besides, yielding a modest positive contagious Poisson that contradicts the principal tenet of the communication interpretation.
Previous research may have failed to find a general relationship between war and techno-scientific activity due to the failure (a) to treat the various types of war separately and (b) to use yearly rather than generational time series. Hence, the present study examined 404 consecutive years in European civilization from 1500 to 1903. Measures of four distinct kinds of war were defined and a log-transformed measure of techno-scientific activity was derived from a factor analysis of six histories and chronologies. The techno-science measure was regressed on the war measures plus a set of control variables. Techno-scientific activity was found to be a negative function of balance-of-power and defensive wars fought within Europe. In contrast, imperial and civil wars exerted no influence.