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From the Science Citation Index to the Journal Impact Factor and Web of Science

By: , Posted on: July 7, 2015

Eugene Garfield“The impact factor is a very useful tool for evaluation of journals, but it must be used discretely. Considerations include the amount of review or other types of material published in a journal, variations between disciplines, and item-by-item impact.” – Eugene Garfield

People write books for different reasons. Sometimes they even cannot explain why they are doing it. As for me, I know why I wrote my book — it is because of Eugene Garfield (Garfield, 2015).

Early in my research career, I became fascinated with his essays published in a little weekly journal called Current Contents. These essays triggered my interest in information science and the thought that someday I would be part of this world has always stayed in the back of my mind and later made my transition from the lab bench to information science seamless.

Eugene Garfield created the Science Citation Index (SCI) and was the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in Philadelphia. The SCI became the basis for important information products such as Web of Science, Essential Science Indicators, and Journal Citation Reports (JCR). It is a predecessor of the search engines, which utilize the principle of citation indexing to create algorithms for relevancy of documents. “Citation linking” is the central concept on which the SCI was built, and it was evidently on the minds of Sergey Brin and Larry Page when they officially mentioned Google in a paper for the first time (Brin & Page, 1998).

Several years ago, I interviewed Dr. Garfield (Baykoucheva, 2006), and later regretted about not asking him some more questions. I feel honored that he agreed to do another interview included in my book, “Managing scientific information and research data.” In his two interviews, Dr. Garfield talks about how he came up with the idea to create the Science Citation Index and discusses the citation practices of authors. He also gives his opinion about open access, peer review, scientific ethics, and the future of scientific publishing and scientific information. The book includes an extract from an interview that I did with Bonnie Lawlor (Baykoucheva, 2010) , who worked for 28 years at the Institute for Scientific Information. In her interview Lawlor vividly describes the atmosphere at ISI in the 1960s, and what it looked like to work with Eugene Garfield.

Several chapters of the book discuss the Impact Factor, h-Index, Google Scholar Citations, and other metrics used to evaluate scientific research.  One chapter is devoted to the new area of Altmetrics and the role of social media in indicating attention to research.

Click here for my interview with Eugene Garfield.


  1. Baykoucheva, S. (2006). Interview with Eugene Garfield. Chemical Information Bulletin, 58(2), 7-9.
  2. Baykoucheva, S. (2010). From the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) to the National Federation of Advanced Information Services (NFAIS): Interview with Bonnie Lawlor. Chemical Information Bulletin. 62, from
  3. Brin, S., & Page, L. (1998). The Anatomy of a Search Engine.   Retrieved September 8, 2014, from
  4. Garfield, E. (2015). Home Page.   Retrieved July 2, 2015, from

About the Author

Svetla baykouchevaSvetla Baykoucheva (Baykousheva) is the head of the White Memorial Chemistry Library at the University of Maryland College Park. For more than 20 years she has performed interdisciplinary research in infectious microbiology and biochemistry, and has published more than 40 articles in peer-review scientific journals such as the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemistry, Journal of Chromatography, and FEBS Letters. She was also the editor of the Chemical Information Bulletin (published by the ACS Chemical Information Division) and manager of the Library and Information Center of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Washington, D.C. In 2005 she moved back to academia to become head of the White Memorial Chemistry Library at the University of Maryland College Park, where she teaches scientific information and bibliographic management.

managing scientific data

Innovative technologies are changing the way research is performed, preserved, and communicated.  Svetla’s book, Managing Scientific Information and Research Data, explores how innovative technologies are used and provides detailed analysis of the approaches and tools developed to manage scientific information and data. It is available for purchase on the Elsevier Store using discount code “STC215″ at checkout to save up to 30% off the list price and free global shipping.

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