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Bibliometrics & Scientometrics

Bibliometrics is a subdisciplinary specialty within the discipline of Library and Information Science (LIS).  The field applies statistical and mathematical methods to the analysis of published materials.  Although the first bibliometric analyses have been traced back to the late 1800’s, and some believe the field’s name originates in a French word first used in the 1930’s, the term is generally held to have been coined in 1969 (Hood and Concepción, 2001).  The most frequent subject of  bibliometric study has been the published materials of science, using bibliographic databases such as Web of Science and Scopus.  This should come as little surprise, as the one who first proposed citation indexing in 1955, Eugene Garfield, was himself a scientist (Garfield, 1955) .

The term scientometrics is also frequently encountered.  It is often used almost interchangeably with bibliometrics. Most of the time, the two are indistinguishable.  The exact distinction can depend upon whose definitions are used.  I accept the difference expressed by Hood and Concepción: scientometrics applies bibliometric and other methods to study the outputs of science and technology, which includes more than just scientific publications.  Bibliometrics refers to the study of any published materials, and is not limited just to science.  Scientometrics can therefore be seen as another subdisciplinary specialty within LIS.

My thesis study can rightly be considered to belong to both bibliometrics and scientometrics, if you accept that whatever discipline EDM might turn out to be, it is scientific in its methods.  To avoid confusion, however, I choose to primarily use the term bibliometrics.

In both bibliometrics and scientometrics, citation analysis and related techniques are the most frequently used for exploring bibliographic data.


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