Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bibliometrics: A Brief Introduction

The term bibliometrics was derived from“biblion” (Gr.): book and “metron” (Gr.): measure; and introduced by Pritchard in 1969. Pritchard’s article “Statistical Biography or Bibliometrics?” appeared in the December issue of the Journal of Documentation in 1969. He stated, “The term (Statistical bibliography) is clumsy, not very descriptive, and can be confused with statistics itself or bibliographies on statistics”.  In the same issue of Journal of Documentation appeared Robert A. Fairthorne’s classic article “Empirical Hyperbolic Distributions (Bradford-Zipf-Mandelbrot) for Bibliometric Description and Prediction”, in which the author used the word “bibliometric” and acknowledged Alan Pritchard as the donor of the term.
Historical Development
Since the relation between the terms “bibliometrics” and “statistical bibliography” has now been established, it seems imperative that a history of bibliometrics should begin with its predecessor, statistical bibliography and its components: statistics and bibliography.
“Bibliography”: was derived from two roots: biblion, book; and graphos from graphein, to write. Webster (1956) defined it as a: “history of books, an account of manuscripts… and information illustrating the history of literature,’ as well as “a list of an author’s writings; or the literature dealing with a certain subject or author".
In post-classical Greek times, Monks, in copying manuscripts, also made lists of the books being copied; these listed, catalogs or inventories, are considered early bibliographies.  Modern bibliography began in 1564 when George Willer of Augsburg published his catalog of books, a listing for sale be him at the Frankfurt fair (Hertzel, Vol. 42).
            Schneider (as cited in Hertzel, 1987) describes, by the 18th century in France, bibliography was “writing about books”; later it was called “the science that deals with literary production”, and finally, “the science of books”.
Current bibliography may be said to be the result of demands of research, development of numerous journals, and the formation of many societies, literary and scientific. It can be concluded that the most important change in the meaning bibliography was caused be change in its purpose, which at first was to preserve or record past items (list or inventories); whereas it’s primary purpose now is to aid in dispensing knowledge (guides). 
Statistics was derived from the German “Statistik” which came from the Medieval Latin “statisticus” which in turn was derived from the Latin “status” meaning state, position, standing (Latin for “to stand”). (Webster, 1960).
Levinson (as cited in Hertzel, 1987) define statistics as “The science of collecting or selecting facts, sorting and classifying them, and drawing from them whatever conclusions may lie buried among them”.
            Statistics may be divided into two areas:
    1. Descriptive statistics -- Descriptive statistics is really a description or compilation of  data  a form that is clear and usable 
    2. Inferential (Inductive) statistics -- in inductive statistics, data pertaining to a sample of a population are used to arrive at a probable conclusion or prediction concerning the whole. It is the generalizing on the basis of limited information.  The conclusions of inductive statistics, based on incomplete data, being uncertain or probable.
            Originating as the mathematical tool of the gambler, the science of probability has become fundamental in the knowledge of the physicist, the biologist, the technologist, the industrialist, the businessman, and the philosopher. It seemed logical that the science of probability and statistics would also have been used by the librarian or the bibliographer and eventually applied to the field of bibliography. So, statistics,   employing the theory of probability (counting, analyzing, interpreting) combined with bibliography (knowledge dispensers) became statistical bibliography.

             Statistical Bibliography

            In the papers using the expression “statistical bibliography,” there are only a few explanations of what it meant. Researchers claim E.Wyndham Hulme was the first to use the expression in 1922, and according to Alan Pritchard, from then until 1969, only two other authors, used the phrase.   
“Statistical bibliography” was also used by Pritchard when he wrote “Computers, Statistical Bibliography and Abstracting Services”. 
            Alan Pritchard, who first used the word “bibliometrics,” described it as the “application of mathematics and statistical methods to books and other media of communication”. In a later article, Pritchard explained bibliometrics as the “metrology of the information transfer process and its purpose is analysis and control of the process”.
Types of Bibliometrics
Bibliometrics, called quantitative science, is divided into two areas: descriptive and evaluative. These two areas may also be divided as follow:
1.      Productivity Count (Descriptive)
a.       Geographic (Countries)
b.      Time periods (Ears)
c.       Disciplines (Subjects)
2.      Literature Usage Count (Evaluative)
a.       Reference
b.      Citation
The two groups as those describing the characteristics or features of a literature (descriptive studies) and those examining the relationships formed between components of a literature (behavioral studies)”. Productivity count made by a count of papers, books, and other writings-- often on the basis of a specialized abstracting journal.  Literature Usage Count made by counting the references cited by a large number of research workers in their papers.
Descriptive bibliometrics study includes the study of the number of publications in a given field, or productivity of literature in the field for the purpose of comparing the amount of research in different countries, the amount produced during different periods, or the amount produced in different subdivisions of the field. This kind of study is made by a count of the papers, books and other writings in the field, or often by a count of those writings which have been abstracted in a specialized abstracting journal. While evaluative bibliometrics study includes the “study of the literature used by research workers in a given field”. Such a study is often made by counting the references cited by a large number of research workers in their paper. 
Pritchard, Alan (1969). Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics?. Journal of Documentation, 25(4), 348-349.
Fairthorne, Robert A. (1969). Empirical hyperbolic distributions (Bradford-Zipf-Madelbrot) for bibliometrics description and prediction. Journal of Documentation, 25(4), 319-343.
Webster’s new world dictionary of the American language (College ed.). (1960). Cleveland: World Publishing Company.
Hertzel, Dorthy H. (1987). Bibliometrics, history of development of ideas in. In Allen Kent (Ed.). Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (Vol. 42, pp.144-219). New York: Marcell Dekker.

Upcoming Posts: 
  1. Types of Bibliometrics
  2. Applications of Bibliometrics
  3. Bibliometrics Products
  4. Benefits of Bibliometrics
  5. Three Target Groups of Bibliometrics
  6. Related Research Fields and Application Services
  7. Empirical Laws of Bibliometrics 
  8. Citation Analysis
  9. Impact Factor
  10. Data Sources of Bibliometrics Research


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    i would appreciate if you could explains some of the processess of bibliometrics as well so that a novice bibliometrician may learn and start analysing some of the case studies.


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