Feedback on research requested

Charles H. Davis davisc at INDIANA.EDU
Sat Jan 15 12:06:05 EST 2000

Dear Dr. Katz:

Your communication was most welcome.  I've been trying for some time to
call power curves to the attention of the information science community.

When I spoke with late Derek Price at an ASIS meeting in Banff in 1979, he
told me that he had "...thrown out a number of 'outliers'."


D.J. de S. Price, "A General Theory of Bibliometric and Other Cumulative
Advantage Processes," JASIS 27:292-306 (1976).

As a fellow physical scientist, I knew this was standard operating
procedure, but it worried me as he used the plural, not the singular.  It
has since come to my attention that acknowledgments follow a power curve
rather than an "ordinary" exponential distribution.  I'm now suspicious
about citation analysis generally and believe you or someone else should
pursue this idea.

See also:

Davis, Charles H. and Blaise Cronin, "Acknowledgments and Intellectual
Indebtedness: A Bibliometric Conjecture," Journal of the American
Society for Information Science 44(10):590-592 (December 1993).

All this has has implications for how scientists actually do their work:
They may be as guilty of appeal to authority as historians.  What an
appalling thought!

Please keep up the good work and stay in touch.  Thanks to the Internet,
we can now do such things easily.  Like you, I welcome observations from
all our colleagues.

It's a new age.


Charles Davis
Charles H. Davis, Ph.D., Senior Fellow          | Professor Emeritus
School of Library and Information Science       |        GSLIS
Indiana University at Bloomington               | University of Illinois
(812) 331-1322  Fax: (812) 855-6166             |    Urbana-Champaign |

On Fri, 14 Jan 2000, Gretchen Whitney wrote:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: j.s.katz at
> To: issi at
> Sent: 1/13/00 11:54 PM
> Subject: Feedback request
> Dear Colleagues:
> I have been developing and using two novel bibliometric indicators
> (1) Relative National Citation Impact and
> (2) Relative International Citation Impact.
> These indicators are based on a power law relationship that I have
> observed between citations and papers. The two indicators are explained
> and applied in a working paper entitled "A question of impact: Is
> citations per paper a reliable measure of impact?" and a report I prepared
> for the ESRC entitled "Bibliometric indicators and the social sciences".
> Most of the theory is explained in my Research Policy article "The
> self-similar science system". The papers are available in pdf format from
> I would appreciate comments and suggestion on these new indicators.
> Regards
> Sylvan
> Dr. J. Sylvan Katz
> Senior Research Fellow
> Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex
> Brighton, E. Sussex, UK, BN1 9RF
> Tel: (01273) 877152 Fax: (01273)685865

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