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The scientometrics (also scientometrics ) is the science of measuring (metric) of Sciences. It does not make any substantive statements about the quality of scientific research and its products, but rather uses mathematical and statistical methods to measure quantities, such as the number of university graduates or the number of scientific publications by a scientist in a year.

It can be viewed as a sub-discipline of informetrics that not only measures scientific information, but information in general. A sub-discipline of scientometry are, for example, bibliometrics , which only measures scientific publications, and patentometrics , which measures publications on patents . Often scientometry is not only assigned to infometry, but also to the scientific sciences .

One of the goals is to describe the scientific work of a whole group of researchers (in a subject area and / or specific regions and time periods) as well as to understand their internal structure and dynamics. Among other things, the question of how and why a certain area of ​​science is developing is to be answered. Scientometrics was essentially founded by Derek de Solla Price and Eugene Garfield . The latter founded the Institute for Scientific Information ( Philadelphia , PA, USA), which has provided the most important databases for scientometric and bibliometric analyzes since the 1960s.

The term scientometry (Russian Naukometrija) comes from Wassili Nalimow (1910-1997), who in 1969 published a book of the same name together with SM Multschenko.

Tools and methods

Methods of scientometry include bibliometrics (observation of publications and citation frequency), informetry (tracking of certain terms in their migration through e.g. magazines and other media) and webometry (investigation of Internet structures). By evaluations attempts statements about the quality of information to be taken.

The Science Citation Index , similar to the search engine Google, counts the sources that cite the researched publication. The number of references determines the impact factor of a publication in relation to others. The more often a publication is cited, the higher the impact factor. A distinction must be made between the article impact and the journal impact: The journal impact in a certain year is calculated from the citations in the relevant year of citable parts (articles, editorials, letters, ...) of the issues of the two previous years. When evaluating an article and its authors, the number of its citations should be rated higher than the impact of the journal in which it was published.


Typical questions of scientometry are usually related to specific subject areas and / or geographical / political units (regions / states / institutions) and are:

  • How good is the quality of science in the region in question?
  • How can you measure and compare scientific work at all?
  • Which factors influence the scientific quantity and quality?
  • How is cooperation in the scientific community structured and how is it changing?
  • What are the economic effects of the scientific findings? (Implementation in products, patents)
  • How do certain areas of knowledge influence each other? (Interdisciplinary)
  • Which forms of research funding are desirable? (Research communities, publication policy, patenting strategies, commercialization strategies)


Many of the results of scientometry are formulated in so-called “laws” which, however, should not be confused with physical laws, but describe empirical regularities; Whether and to what extent these laws apply is the subject of specialist scientific discussion. Important results of scientometry are:

Exponential increase in knowledge
The amount of published information has been growing exponentially since the 17th century with a doubling rate of around 10 to 20 years, which corresponds to an increase of at least 3.5% per year. This law was established in 1944 by Fremont Rider (1885–1962) for books and in 1963 by Derek de Solla Price for science in general. This development is also known as the " information explosion ". According to de Solla Price, the number of scientists is also increasing and faster than that of the world population , so that an increasing proportion of people are scientifically active. The productivity of scientific authors remains roughly the same, however. The amount of published information in the form of the number of book titles ever published worldwide is estimated to be in the order of 100 million.
Lotka's Law
As Alfred J. Lotka stated in 1926, the productivity of scientists measured by the number of their publications is distributed crookedly according to a power law . Accordingly, the number of authors who have n publications is roughly constant at 1 / n a with around a = 2.
Bradford's Law
The law established by Samuel C. Bradford in 1934 describes the distribution of literature on a topic across various specialist journals . Accordingly, the same number of articles can be found in groups of (core journal ), (related journals), (remaining journals) etc. The law of potency is relevant, among other things, for research and acquisition.
Garfield's law
Eugene Garfield found that there is a dependency between citations and journals similar to Bradford's law for articles and journals. In a distribution of 1: 4: 16, the journals are divided into core, central and peripheral zones, with an equal number of publications in each zone.
Ortega hypothesis
Jonathan and Stephen Cole hypothesized in 1972 that scientific progress is based on the work of a small elite of scientists. According to Endre Száva-Kováts , the naming of this hypothesis after José Ortega y Gasset is based on a misinterpretation by the Spanish philosopher and, like the hypothesis itself, is controversial.
Increase in multiple authorship
As noted by Derek de Solla Price in Little Science, Big Science in 1963 , the average number of authors per scientific publication is increasing. While monographs were common in the past, there are now scientific articles with up to several hundred authors. The increase is somewhat different depending on the subject.
Half-life of literature
In scientometry, the half-life of scientific publications is the time after which half of it is no longer requested. Accordingly, the number of citations on a scientific publication decreases exponentially on average with a half-life of five years.
Impact Factor
One of the most influential developments in scientometry is the Impact Factor developed by Eugene Garfield , which describes the influence of a professional journal in terms of the number of citations . The impact factor has become a common and controversial instrument for evaluating research.
Immediacy factor
The Immediacy Index indicates for a journal how many of its articles are still cited within the same year. It is therefore a measure of how quickly the information spreads on average. Presumably, the immediacy factor has increased with the increase in documentation through specialist databases , new media and preprints .
Matthew Effect
In 1968, Robert K. Merton put forward the hypothesis named after a statement by Jesus reported in the Gospel of Matthew, “who has given him” ( Mt 25.29  EU ), that well-known authors are cited more often and thus become even better known (“success breeds success "). In the citation behavior, however, the Matthew effect cannot be directly demonstrated, because, among other things, due to the uncitedness described by Eugene Garfield , publications will no longer be cited at some point due to their popularity.
Young discovery
Harvey C. Lehman found out in 1953 that high-level scientific discoveries are more likely to be made by younger researchers, particularly in the fields of mathematics and theoretical physics.

Research and Teaching

Scientometrics is taught at some universities as part of courses in library and information science . The basics of citation analysis together with instructions for scientific work are also part of the curriculum of other subjects.

The main journal for scientometric research is the scientific journal Scientometrics, founded in Hungary in 1978 . The most important specialist conference is the International Conference of the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics , which has taken place every two years since 1987 and is organized by the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics (ISSI). The Derek John de Solla Price Award will also be presented at the conference .

In 2004, the International Conference on Webometrics, Informetrics and Scientometrics (WIS) was organized for the first time by the global interdisciplinary research network COLLNET Collaboration in Science and in Technology . These conferences have been held annually since 2000. COLLNET has published the COLLNET Journal of Scientometrics and Information Management since 2007 ; the magazine is published twice a year by TARU Publications; Shabahat Husain and Hildrun Kretschmer are the editors. The Journal of Informetrics has also been published by Elsevier since 2007 ; its publisher is the Belgian information technology specialist Leo Egghe.

Individual evidence

  1. Ulf-Dietrich Reips, Uwe Matzat: Article Impact means Journal Impact . In: International Journal of Internet Science , 8, 2013, pp. 1–9, (PDF)
  2. ^ Fremont Rider: The scholar and the future of the research library, a problem and its solution. Hadham Press, New York 1944, p. 8
  3. Derek J. de Solla Price: Little Science, Big Science . Suhrkamp, ​​1974, p. 17, ( Memento of the original dated June 24, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. ^ Alfred J. Lotka: The frequency distribution of scientific productivity. In: Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. Vol. 16, 1926, pp. 317-323
  5. ^ Samuel Bradford: Sources of Information on Specific Subjects. In: Engineering. Vol. 137, 1934, pp. 85-86
  6. Jonathan R. Cole, Stephen Cole: The Ortega Hypothesis. In: Science. Volume 178, October 1972, pp. 368-375
  7. Endre Száva-Kováts: The false "Ortega Hypothesis": a literature science case study. In: Journal of Information Science. Volume 30, No. 6, 2004, pp. 496-508
  8. Endre Száva-Kováts: Unfounded attribution of the "Half-life" index number of literature obsolescence to Burton and Kebler: A literature science study. In: JASIST. Volume 53, No. 13, 2002, pp. 1098-1105
  9. Walther Umstätter , Margarete Rehm & Zsuzsánna Dorogi: The half-life in scientific literature. In: News for Documentation. Vol. 33, No. 2, 1982, pp. 50–52 ( Memento of the original of September 27, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. ^ Eugene Garfield: Citation analysis as a tool in journal evaluation. In: Science. Vol. 178, 1972, No. 4060, pp. 471-479
  11. Arnd Krüger : Where does German sports science research stand? Impact factor, half-life, timeliness and immediacy index . In: competitive sport , 28, 1998, 2, pp. 30–34.
  12. ^ Robert K. Merton: The Matthew Effect in Science. In: Science , Vol. 159, No. 3810, 1968, pp. 56–63, (PDF; 2.6 MB)
  13. Walther Umstätter: Library science as part of science. In: Walther Umstätter & Karl-Friedrich Wessel (eds.): Interdisciplinarity - a challenge for scientists. Festschrift for Heinrich Parthey's 60th birthday. Kleine, Bielefeld 1999, ISBN 3-89370-277-6 , pp. 146-160
  14. Harvey C. Lehman: Age and Achievement. Princeton 1953. Checked and corrected by Franz Graf-Stuhlhofer : Age and scientific creativity. On young discoveries in physics, chemistry and mathematics. In: Communications from the Austrian Society for the History of Science. 28, 2011, pp. 143-175
  15. Scientometrics Journal
  17. Collnet Journal of Scientometrics and Information Management
  18. ^ Journal of Informetrics



  • Derek de Solla Price : Little Science, Big Science. From the study to large-scale research (= Suhrkamp-Taschenbuch Wissenschaft. 48). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1974, ISBN 3-518-07648-5 (English first published in 1963).
  • Василий В. Налимов, Зинаида М. Мульченко: Наукометрия. Изучение развития науки как информационного процесса. Наука, Москва 1969.
  • Eugene Garfield : Citation Indexing. Its Theory and Application in Science, Technology, and Humanities. Wiley, New York NY et al. a. 1979, ISBN 0-471-02559-3 .
  • Сергей Д. Хайтун: Наукометрия. Состояние и перспективы. Наука, Москва 1983.
  • Сергей Д. Хайтун: Проблемы количественного анализа науки. Наука, Москва 1989, ISBN 5-02-013368-X .
  • Peter Weingart , Matthias Winterhager: The measurement of research. Theory and Practice of Science Indicators. Campus, Frankfurt am Main u. a. 1984, ISBN 3-593-33359-7 .
  • Leo Egghe, Ronald Rousseau: Introduction to Informetrics. Quantitative Methods in Library, Documentation and Information Science. Elsevier, Amsterdam a. a. 1990, ISBN 0-444-88493-9 .
  • Loet Leydesdorff: The Challenge of Scientometrics. The Development, Measurement, and Self-Organization of Scientific Communications (= Wetenschapsstudies. 10). DSWO Press, Leiden 1995, ISBN 90-6695-112-5 .
  • Péter Vinkler: The Evaluation of Research by Scientometric Indicators. Chandos Publishing, Oxford et al. a. 2010, ISBN 978-1-84334-572-5 .
  • Gerhard Fröhlich: About the power of measurement . In: heureka! , 1/99
  • Martin Spiewak : The quote hunter . In: Die Zeit , No. 29/2003

Individual representations

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