20 years ago

May 8, 2008

The Science Citation Index, the Social Science Citation Index and similar publications have transformed the rules of the game. In the old days scholars scanned the references in journals in the hope of finding their names. This procedure is now computerised. Every article published in a learned journal is now scanned impartially for all its references ... This gives a numerical measure of scholarship, which we believe is much to be preferred to more subjective measures, since it is easier to influence. The future significance of this new measure can scarcely be exaggerated. An American social scientist comments: "One imagines the eventual establishment of a social science ticker tape, which would spread citation rates to the offices of deans and departmental chairmen instantaneously. A burst of noise from the ticker; the dean rushes over and reads off the sputtering tape, 'Daniel Bell up 6'." Adam Kuper

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