Eugene Garfield was one of the most influential figures in the world of library and information science in the second half of the 20th century. He pioneered citation indexing in the sciences and scholarly journal literature, in which the cited references (footnotes) in each article are recorded and serve as connections between papers, creating a network of ideas and concepts that can be navigated backward and forward in time. The first Science Citation Index was produced in 1964, nine years after he published the concept of citation indexing for the sciences in 1955. The Science Citation Index (now called the Web of Science) revolutionized the way people searched for information of interest. Garfield anticipated -- by 40 years -- the advent of hyperlinked pages on the web and the appearance of the Google Search algorithm (the patent for which cites Garfield). It took that long for technological developments to catch up with Eugene Garfield’s vision.
He founded the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia in 1960, which produced many databases and information products for libraries, universities, government agencies, and industrial firms worldwide. His firm was acquired by Thomson Corporation in 1992 (which eventually became Thomson Reuters), and in October 2016, its Intellectual Property and Science business, of which the original ISI was a core part, became independent as Clarivate Analytics.
1949: Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Columbia University
1951: Joined Welch Medical Indexing Project, Johns Hopkins University, an initiative dedicated to improving the indexing and retrieval of biomedical information
1954: Master’s degree in Library Science, Columbia University
1960: Eugene Garfield Associates, his private firm for providing journal contents (the product later known as Current Contents), changed its name to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)
1961: Doctorate in Structural Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania
1960 – 1992: President and CEO, ISI
1986 – 2000: Publisher and Editor-in Chief,The Scientist, a bi-weekly newspaper for researchers
Eugene Garfield and associates tested the viability and efficiency of citation indexing.
Garfield, et al developed two test projects that would determine the viability and efficiency of citation indexing. The first project involved the creation of a database that would index the citations of 5,000 chemical patents held by two private pharmaceutical companies. Based on this investigation and analysis, it was determined that citation indexing permitted the retrieval of relevant literature across arbitrary classifications in a way that subject- oriented indexing could not.
A second pilot project in 1962 involved Garfield's recently incorporated enterprise, the Institute for Scientific Information (now Clarivate Analytics), with the United States National Institutes of Health in building an index to the published literature on genetics. While this project was to test the feasibility and utility of a narrow, discipline-oriented citation index, at completion, it was concluded that the database with the most broadly based set of source publications formed the most comprehensive and useful guide to the published literature in the field of genetics.
Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg using citation indexing in his field of genetics: “The power of the idea and the utility of its implementation could not be denied.
Original Science Citation Index (SCI) published.
Published in five (5) printed volumes.
Divided into two (2) author-based parts: the Source Author Index and the Citation Index.
By extension, institution, country of publishing and how often the paper is cited.
1964 - Garfield said “Citation indexing provided an objective method for defining a field of inquiry” and that “the same logical foundation” made information retrieval in a citation index effective.
1964 - Garfield and colleagues Irving H. Sher and Richard J. Torpie produced his first historiograph, a linear mapping through time of influences and dependencies, illustrated by citation links, concerning the discovery of DNA and its structure.
A simple method to compare large journals (Nature, Science, JAMA) with smaller specialty journals (Annual Reviews) that may not be noted if only total publication or citation counts were considered.
A journal’s impact factor is based on two elements: the numerator, which is the number of cites in the current year to any items published in the journal during the previous two years; and the denominator, the number of substantive articles (source items) published during the same two years.
Official launch of SCI Journal Citation Reports (JCR)
A statistical summation of the Journal Citation Index, a result of re-sorting the Author Citation Index. Instead of alphabetizing by author name, files were sorted by journal title.
JCR today includes every citation that appears in more than 11,000 journals that it covers.
Garfield launched the Arts & Humanities Index. Fully indexs 1,700 arts & humanities journals, as well as selected items from over 250 scientific & social sciences journals.
SCI became available on CD-ROM
SCI is incorporated into the Web of Science™ Core Collection
Covers more than 12,000 international journals representing the main fields of science, the social sciences, and the arts and humanities, with additional coverage of scholarly books and conference proceedings. Impact factor became popular; accepted as “surrogates for expected citation frequencies for recently published papers—a highly controversial application of scientometrics in evaluating scientists and institutions.”
Celebrating 50 years of the Science Citation Index
The first and the best
Check out these vintage — and still relevant — video instructions for how to use SCI. Informative, and classically appropriate, and recorded by Dr. Garfield himself!
Eugene Garfield, Citation indexing: its theory and application in Science Technology and Humanities (New York, Wiley-Interscience, 1979).
Eugene Garfield, “Science Citation Index – New Dimension in Indexing,” Science, Volume: 144, Issue: 361, Pages: 649-54, 1964
Eugene Garfield, ‘Citation Analysis as a Tool in Journal Evaluation: Journals can be Ranked by Frequency and Impact of Citations for Science Policy Studies.” Science, Volume: 178, Issue: 4060, Pages: 471-79, 1972
Dr. Garfield at his 91st birthday party, surrounded by former ISI employees.
To Dr. Garfield, it didn’t matter if you were an executive or from the mail room, everyone was treated equally. So many people have been touched by Dr. Garfield’s ingenuity, generosity and passion and we will work to continue his legacy.