Citation dispute

August 31, 2007

Peter Lawrence rightly inveighs against the "audit society" that has resulted from assessing scientists by bibliometrics and impact factors ("Popular beat may drown out genius", August 24). In 1966, my brother John H. Edwards, later professor of genetics at Oxford University, and I attended a fringe presentation at the Third International Congress of Human Genetics in Chicago at which Eugene Garfield introduced his Experimental Genetics Citation Index, taking 1961 journals as the test material. In the ensuing discussion, John protested against the very notion of a citation index, saying that it would distort the practice of scientific publication and create data that would in time be misused for purposes of academic assessment.

A. W. F. Edwards
Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University

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