Our foundational past, visionary future

Our foundational past, visionary future
by Annette Thomas
CEO, Web of Science Group
Science Research Connect

For all of us at the Web of Science Group we took a major step into our future on May 28th, which fittingly began with a tribute to the past. Celebrating the completion of the merger between Clarivate Analytics and Churchill Capital Corporation and our new status as a publicly traded company (Clarivate Analytics Plc), representatives of our company visited the New York Stock Exchange. Joining us for the occasion were some special guests: members of the family of Dr. Eugene Garfield (1925-2017) traveled to New York to perform the central task of ringing the bell on our behalf.

Dr. Eugene Garfield was the original founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in 1960, the forerunner of the Web of Science Group and is globally recognized as the pioneer who ‘organized the world’s research information’.  He began his professional career when computing was in its infancy and information services were almost exclusively provided in printed form and his career spanned the great revolution in computing power culminating in the invention of the internet.

Dr. Garfield saw the future before others: he created products and services which came into their own in the age of the internet, despite the fact that few of his contemporaries would have envisaged the scale of its acceleration. Government science funding boomed in the Cold War era, and soon enough public imagination was caught by the moon landings, cloning and other advances of the late 20th century. Above all, Dr Garfield sought to use incremental, yet transformative ideas to influence how scientists discover information. He unlocked the power of the citation—the connection between one discovery and another, and created in 1964 the Science Citation Index which was quite literally a “Web of Science’ and was the forerunner to the Web of Science Group

This allowed scientists, for the first time, to use information, at scale, to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ as citations – representing the collective judgment of scientists themselves. — serve as pointers to the most influential and important work of individuals, institutions, nations, and regions.

The presence of Dr. Garfield’s wife Meher, son Josh and sister Sylvia (who rang the bell) was a fitting acknowledgment not only of Dr. Garfield’s contributions to the company but of his visionary innovations for processing and accessing information.

Awaiting their appearance on the podium for the bell ceremony with Annette Thomas (top right) are members of Dr. Garfield’s family: his wife Meher (center), sister Sylvia (lower right), and son Josh.

Today, the other citation-based resources innovated by Dr. Garfield, including Journal Citation Reports, continue to flourish, with ongoing refinements and additions.  We are adding new data sources and new technology like AI to support the research community to further accelerate the pace of discovery.  We are developing new workflow tools that address major pain points for researchers to allow them to discover more, more quickly. And we are bringing all of this together in a powerful, yet flexible and interoperable research intelligence platform—that sheds light on research discoveries, supporting the execution, evaluation and planning decisions at a global, national, institutional and individual level.

What isn’t changing is that we remain true to the values of Dr. Garfield—obsessively focused on our customers, serving researchers and the research community committed to the highest quality standards, and doing so by being objective and independent.

Now as a public company we can realize all of these ambitions and more with greater investment and ambition for the future.

So, although Dr. Garfield was unable to be with us at the ceremony, his abiding, innovative spirit was very much present and continues to flourish.

Annette Thomas
CEO Web of Science Group