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Conference Report: International Society For Scientometrics And Informetrics (ISSI), Fifth Biennial Conference, Rosary College, June 7-10,1995 Conference Report: International Society For Scientometrics And Informetrics (ISSI), Fifth Biennial Conference, Rosary College, June 7–10,1995

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In this issue of Third World Libraries we are printing extended abstracts of five papers presented at the Fifth Biennial Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI), held at Rosary College, June 7–10, 1995. ISSI is a relatively new but growing international society. Rosary College was pleased to host its fifth biennial meeting. Previous meetings were held in Belgium, Canada, India, and Germany. The next meetings will be in Israel in 1997, and Mexico in 1999.

The field of scientometrics and informetrics, the field many of our readers formerly knew as bibliometrics, though seemingly somewhat arcane, is in fact of some considerable interest to the topic of third world libraries. It is through scientometrics that one can measure the integration of research and scholarship in third world countries into that of the developed world, and assess whether that gap is opening or narrowing.

Selected for inclusion are the abstracts of several studies that relate specifically to third world concerns, for example: an assessment of chemical research in Mexico, medical research in India, the distribution of Latin American scientific periodicals, etc. Not only are these items of interest in themselves, we hope that exposure to them will suggest ideas to others of how scientometric (or informetric or bibliometric, use the term of your choice) studies can illuminate issues pertinent to third world librarianship and information policy issues.

To further that end, the editor of Third World Libraries will be happy to send the full version of any of the abstracted articles to any reader in a developing country who requests one. For others, the proceedings, all 700+ pages of it, are available from the publisher Information Today (previously Learned Information Inc.) at 143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, New Jersey 08055 U.S., for #36;79.

The field of scientometrics and informetrics is an aggressively international one. At the fifth biennial conference, 42 percent of the attendees came from Europe, including countries from the Soviet Union, many of which have third world problems and concerns; 29 percent from North America (U.S. and Canada); nine percent from other developed countries; 15 percent from the third world; and five percent from other countries that might take umbrage at being described as third world, but certainly share many of its problems. Thus, if one chooses an inclusive definition of third world, almost a quarter of the attendees were from the third world. That such a large proportion in attendance could be achieved was due to the sponsorship of the Eugene Garfield foundation, Institute for Scientific Information, Silver Platter, and not least, Rosary College. There are two reasons for reciting those statistics: first to make the point that the field has captured substantial interest in the third world, and second to stress that similar support is likely at subsequent ISSI conferences for third world scholars and librarians who have work of substance to present.

In summary, we hope that you will find this material interesting and that it will stimulate further research. Indeed, we hope that we will see some of the first of such developments published here in Third World Libraries.

floral device “Research as if Relevance Mattered: Medical Research in India as Reflected by SCI 1981–85”

Subbiah Arunachalam
Central Electrochemical Research Institute, Karaikudi, India

I attempt to look at medical research in India as reflected by the literature with a view to seeing if research priorities match the country’s needs. The limited information available indicates that Indians suffer most from diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory diseases, circulatory system diseases, infectious diseases, infancy diseases, malaria and tuberculosis. From journals most often used by Indian medical researchers, they seem to be most active in tropical medicine (third in the world after the U.S. and U.K.), andrology (second only to the U.S.), general and internal medicine (11th), and radiology and nuclear medicine (11th). Overall, India’s share in the journal literature of medicine is far less than her share of the literatures of all of science (including engineering and medicine), physical sciences, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering. Indian researchers have published 10 or more papers in only about 100 medical journals, many of them low–impact journals, as seen from Science Citation Index, in the five years 1981–85. To see India’s performance in perspective, I have compared the share of India in more than 20 subfields of medicine and a few related areas with that of some advanced countries and some middle–level countries whose scientific enterprises are comparable to hers. India, I conclude, could be more purposive in her research priorities and probably should invest much more in medical research.

floral device “Analysis of the Mexican Production in the Field of ’Environmental Health Hazards’ As Seen in Local and International Databases”

C.A. Macias–Chapula and I.P. Rodea–Castro
Universidad National Autónoma de México (UNAM), México, D.F., México

This work reports the preliminary results of a descriptive study on the production of Mexico in the field of environmental health hazards. Forty–one databases were searched for the period 1982–1993. A total of 1,323 references were obtained and analyzed to identify:

  1. The coverage by database;
  2. The distribution of this production over the years;
  3. The type of documents produced;
  4. The language of publication of the information sources;
  5. Authorship.

Results indicated that most of the production (91.53 percent) was disseminated through local/regional databases. Spanish was the language most frequently used (86.62 percent); and multiple authorship was a pattern found in more than 60 percent of the references. Further lines of research are described by the authors.

floral device “The Distribution of Latin American Scientific Periodicals”

Nora Narvaez–Berthelemot
Centro de Informatión Cientifica y Humanistica (CICH), Universidad National Autónoma
de México, México, D.F., México

The total of 1,154 scientific and technical periodicals published in Latin America and the Caribbean region in 1989 was compared to counts for previous years. Titles were analyzed, according to country, subject field, year first published, frequency, and language of publication. The source of data was the serial collections of the British Library Document Supply Centre at Boston Spa. It was found that the number of Latin American scientific journals increased 22–fold over the last nine decades, in spite of the fact that the region produces on average only 3.6 percent of the world’s scientific literature. In 1989, Brazil was the most prolific editor of scientific journals in the region, producing 35 percent of the total. Biology, social sciences, and clinical medicine were the subjects most frequently covered by the Latin American journals in this same year. Earth and space sciences, and engineering and technology were important subjects in 1973, but less so in 1989. Most of the journals were founded during the ’70s and the ’80s. The oldest journals, which are in clinical medicine, biology, and the social sciences, appeared before 1900. Most of the present–day titles appear quarterly, except for those covering earth and space sciences, where publications tend to be edited annually. Eighty–four percent of the 1989 set of journals were published in the local language of the editing country (Spanish, Portuguese); 10 percent in both the local language and English; five percent only in English; and one percent in more than two languages.

floral device “Institutional Production Cutting Across Disciplinary Boundaries: An Assessment of Chemical Research in Mexico”

J.M. Russell and A.Ma. Rosas
Centro de Informatión Cientifica y Humanistica (CICH), Universidad National Autónoma
de México, México, D.F., México

R. Arvanitis
Mission ORSTOM–Mexique, Los Morales, México, D.F., México

A comparative analysis was carried out on the publication output of four of the Mexican teaching and research institutions most active in chemical research using different data sources. The papers included in the 1992 annual reports for all four institutions were compared with those included in two commercial databases: CA SEARCH (Chemical Abstracts online service covering journals in chemistry and related fields), and National Citation Reports (NCR) for Mexico, a service provided by ISI (Institute for Scientific Information) covering mainstream journals in all fields of science and technology. Three of the four institutions were found to be more visible in NCR than in CA SEARCH: in the case of the one of the institutes with a strong research commitment, almost 75 percent of papers in the annual report were recorded in NCR. Better coverage of chemical and biochemical journals where Mexican scientists publish was found in NCR than in CA SEARCH, suggesting that the former is a more suitable data source for quantifying Mexican chemical research than the latter, in spite of its higher level of specialization.

floral device “Scientific Productivity and Impact of the Third World Countries (TWC): A Citation Study”

Farideh Osareh and Conceptión S. Wilson
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

This study supports one of Eugene Garfield’s findings: that India stands apart from all other developing nations in the number of documents its scientists have authored [1]. In all aspects, e.g., productivity, (most likely) influence, number of journals in SCI, etc., India would be highly atypical visa–vis the other TWC. Exclusion from this study was therefore warranted.

Of the remaining 125 Third World countries (TWC), only 112 of the countries had publications in SCI during 1985–1989, ranging from only one document to a high of 18,166 (Brazil). Of these 112 TWC, six countries contributed slightly over half of the source publications, as well as the citations received to 10 percent of the source documents: Brazil, Argentina, Egypt, Mexico, Chile, and South Korea (in order of productivity); another 30 countries had at least 50 source documents. Fifty–four documents were cited at least 50 times during 1985–1993; the most productive of the 25 TWC in this category were Kenya, Mexico, and Brazil, each contributing from seven to nine documents; all but five of the 41 journals in which these documents were published were either from the U.S. (n=28) or the UK (n=8); most of the 41 non–TWC journals (n=27) cover various aspects of the medical sciences; and the top two highly cited papers from Kenya and Mexico were cited 267 and 220 times respectively. Using a form of country Impact Factor (IF) measure, less productive countries like Papua New Guinea (PNG), Costa Rica, Jamaica, and Peru achieved impact factors of from 5.6 to 7.5, while only one TWC (Mexico), which was in the top six in productivity and influence, came close (4.5) to that achieved by the four less productive TWC. Kenya, with only 239 source publications, had a comparatively high number of citations (1,687), an Impact Factor of 7.1, and was ranked third by IF.

This study tends to confirm earlier findings that Third World scientists prefer to publish in non–TWC journals [2], 3]. This would certainly be the case if TWC scientists wish to influence (that is, be cited by) both TWC as well as non–TWC scientists. The fact that all 54 highly cited TWC documents were published in non–TWC (and mostly in publications from the U.S. or the U.K.) would also support this conclusion. Finally, this study found that the number of journals published in TWC represents only about 1.2 percent of the journals indexed in SCI; however, there are “many journals [published in TWC] which are not included in SCI and which are fairly well cited within TWC.” [1] A study including such journals would be equally important to obtain a more complete picture of the scientific productivity, as well as the patterns of communication, of third world scientists. It would also be of interest to compare the productivity and influence of TWC journals not included in SCI with those 45 journals indexed by SCI.

floral device References

1. E. Garfield, “Mapping Science in the Third World,” Science and Public Policy 10–3(1983): 112–127.

2. F.W. Lancaster and M.B.P. de Carvalho, “O cientista Brasileiro pública no exterior: em qué palses, em qué revistas, sôbre que assuntos [Brazilian scientists publish abroad: In what countries, in what journals, on what subjects],” Ciência e cultura 34–5(1982): 627–634.

3. M.S. Ashoor and A.S. Chaudhry, “Publication Patterns of Scientists Working in Saudi Arabia,” International Information and Library Review 25–2 (1993): 61–71.

floral device About the Author

Michael E.D. Koenig is Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Rosary College. He was Dean of the School from 1988 to 1995. He organized and directed the ISSI conference reported on in this issue.

© 1995 Michael E.D. Koenig.


Koenig, Michael, E.D. “Conference Report: International Society For Scientometrics And Informetrics (ISSI), Fifth Biennial Conference, Rosary College, June 7–10,1995” Third World Libraries, Volume 6, Number 1 (Fall 1995).

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