This essay was originally published in the Current Contents print editions August 15, 1994, when Clarivate Analytics was known as the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)

Librarians and researchers use different features of the Clarivate Analytics databases to establish or maintain collections. As discussed in the last essay, the impact factor reported in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR) is a valuable tool for journal evaluation.1 In addition, various features of the indexes, including the Science Citation Index (SCI), the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), and the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), offer unique avenues for evaluation.


The Multidisciplinary Range of Uses

In 1983, Barbara Rice of the New York State Library described procedures for maintaining a chemistry periodicals collection. The process is a challenge in any case, so no one selection method is sufficient for title identification and quality evaluation. However, citation analysis can offer valuable insights.2


Clarivate Analytics is most strongly associated with the sciences, through Current Contents (CC) and SCI, but it also produces comparable services for the social sciences and the arts and humanities.


While books are less important in science, citation analysis can also be very useful in managing serials/monograph ratios in social science collections. Robin Devin and Martha Kellogg of University of Rhode Island stated that the “percentage of serial usage can be directly applied to the budgeting process.3“In the arts and humanities, as Michael Koenig maintains, the literature differs from that of science, but the use of citation analysis is particularly valuable, “especially for journal collection management.”4 Koenig is Dean of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Rosary College in River Forest, Illinois.


The Communal Element

As Ross Atkinson of the University of Iowa states in his review of the journal evaluation process, “selection is difficult to describe.”5 He divides the process into three contexts in which to consider citations: syntagmatic, supplementation, and resolution.


The resolution context, which involves the decision-making process in selection, is further subdivided into three elements: archival, communal, and thematic. The communal element refers to the selector’s knowledge of the research needs of the faculty. The specific cases examined below combine the communal element with citation indexing.


The Changing Scene

In a recent conversation with Katherine McCain of Drexel University, she recalled the days before bibliometric information was readily available on-line. Print indexes were the primary source of such information, so the task of collection management was particularly arduous.


Identifying the actual needs of the local user community was made easier by the availability of the “cited publication field” on DIALOG. Citation analysis of faculty publications and doctoral dissertations then became a mainstay of the journal use studies.6


Targeted Use of Citation Indexing

Once the SCI became available on CD-ROM, Dr. Joshua Lederberg of Rockefeller University designed a straightforward system for journal management. It identifies the specific needs of the university by using the unique features of the SCI on CD-ROM to identify and rank the journals cited by the faculty. By downloading and sorting the lists of reference journals cited in the faculty’s publications, he was able to recommend journal selections in a cost-efficient manner.

Professor Lederberg began using this system many years ago, and reports satisfaction for all concerned. In addition to the cited references identified in the faculty’s articles, he expands the scope of relevant journals by use of the Related Records feature of SCI.


Forecasting Future Needs

The publication histories of the faculty at small colleges can also influence the selection and library management strategies. Tony Stankus, science librarian of the College of the Holy Cross in Worchester, Massachusetts, uses citation indexing to anticipate the needs of the new and the established faculty members. For the new faculty, he forecasts their probable journal selections through citation studies of the research that they conducted previously. For the established faculty, he considers their choices of journals in which to publish as “votes cast” for those journals. In this way, Stankus maintains a collection that reflects the research emphases and likely reference requests for the college.7,8


Stankus supports this proactive approach to serials management with the help of Clarivate Analytics JCR, CC, and SCI. He also suggests using these tools as sources of general advice on collection development, but reminds us that caution must be exercised to limit comparison to related subject areas and to publications that exhibit heavy use in the specific library.9Each library has its own unique needs.


An important step that he suggests for establishment of a new collection is to determine the number of source items that routinely appear in a journal under consideration. The number of source items (i.e., articles, reviews, corrections, etc. in any of the journals covered in the Clarivate Analytics citation indexes) can give an indication of the suitability of a journal for a collection. Another effective tool for establishment of a new collection is the geographic section of the Corporate Index of SCI in print form or the address field on CD-ROM. By tracking the publishing patterns of the lead departments in a field, the selector can make informed choices.



At any library, the needs of the user community as they relate to research are vitally important considerations in collection management. While other factors, such as teaching, also come into play in journal selection, the actual uses by researchers are critical. The JCR and the Clarivate Analytics citation indexes are important tools in tailoring a collection to the needs of a particular community—whether it is science, social science, or arts and humanities oriented.

Dr. Eugene Garfield 
Founder and Chairman Emeritus, ISI



  1. Garfield E.Using the impact factor.Current Contents® (29):3-5, 18 July 1994.
  2. Rice BA.Selection and evaluation of chemistry periodicals. Role of Serials in Sci-Tech Libraries. New York, 1983. p. 43-59.
  3. Devin RB, Kellogg M.The serials/monograph ratio in research libraries: Budgeting in light of citation studies. College & Research Libraries 51(1):46-54, 1990.
  4. Koenig MED.Citation analysis for the arts and humanities as a collection management tool. Collection Management 2(3):247-61, 1978.
  5. Atkinson R.The citation as intertext: Toward a theory of the selection process. Libr. Resour. Tech. Serv. 28(2):109-19, 1984.
  6. McCain KW, Bobbick JE.Patterns of journal use in a department library: a citation analysis. J. Amer. Soc. Inform. Sci. 32(4):257-67, 1981.
  7. Stankus T.Negotiating journal demands with young scientists using lists derived from thesis advisor records. Collection Management 5(3/4):185-98, 1983.
  8. ——————.Science Librarianship at America’s Liberal Arts Colleges: Working Librarians Tell Their Stories. New York: Haworth, 1992. p. 105-16.
  9. ——————.Scientific Journals: Improving Library Collections through Analysis of Publishing Trends. New York: Haworth, 1990.