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- "The uncritical citation of disputed data by a writer, whether it be deliberate or not, is a serious matter. Of course, knowingly propagandizing unsubstantiated claims is particularly abhorrent, but just as many naive students may be swayed by unfounded assertions presented by a writer who is unaware of the criticisms. Buried in scholarly journals, critical notes are increasingly likely to be overlooked with the passage of time, while the studies to which they pertain, having been reported more widely, are apt to be rediscovered." 
In this paper I propose a bibliographic system for science literature that can eliminate the uncritical citation of fraudulent, incomplete, or obsolete data by making it possible for the conscientious scholar to be aware of criticisms of earlier papers. It is too much to expect a research worker to spend an inordinate amount of time searching for the bibliographic descendants of antecedent papers. It would not be excessive to demand that the thorough scholar check all papers that have cited or criticized such papers, if they could be located quickly. The citation index makes this check practicable. Even if there were no other use for a citation index than that of minimizing the citation of poor data, the index would be well worth the effort required to compile it.
This paper considers the possible utility of a citation index that offers a new approach to subject control of the literature of science. By virtue of its different construction, it tends to bring together material that would never be collated by the usual subject indexing. It is best be scribed as an association-of-ideas index, and it gives the reader as much leeway as he requires. Suggestiveness through association-of-ideas is offered by conventional subject indexes but only within the limits of a particular subject heading.
- Memo 5/9/59
- From: Joshua Lederberg
- To: Eugene Garfield
- Since you first published your scheme for a "citation index" in Science about 4 years ago I have been thinking very seriously about it, and must admit I am completely sold. In the nature of my work I have to spend a fair amount of effort in reading the literature of collateral fields and it is infuriating how often I have been stumped in trying to update a topic, where your scheme would have been just the solution! I am sure your critics have simply not grasped the idea, and especially the point that the author must learn to cooperate by his own choice of citations and then he does the critical work.
- Have you tried to set this out in an adequate experiment? Would you look for support from the NSF? Of course you have to count on opposition from the established outfits, which have already succeeded in blocking any progressive centralization of the Augean tasks.
- Garfield, Eugene (1964). "Science Citation Indexing -- A New Dimension in Indexing." Science 144 (3619): 649-654. [^]
- Kessler, M. M. (1963), "Bibliographic Coupling between Scientific Papers." American Documentation, 14 (1): 10-25. [^]
- Garfield, Eugene (1955). "Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas." Science, 122(3159): 108-111. [^]
- Bernal, J. D. (1939). The Social Function of Science. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. [^]
- Wells, H. G. (1938). World Brain. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co. [^]
- P. Thomasson and J.C. Stanley, Science 121, 610 (1955). Thomasson and Stanley were commenting on C. Zirkle's discussion of the use of fraudulent data [Science 120, 189 (1954)].