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Celebrate 50 years of the Science Citation Index


Science Citation Index

June 15, 2014 – Thomson Reuters is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Science Citation Index (SCI), the print predecessor to Web of Science: Citation Databases from Thomson that now offers indexing of article, book, and data citations in the sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Introduced in 1964, the Science Citation Index radically changed the literature review process.

Today’s legacy began in the 1950s when searching scholarly literature was a challenging process. Eugene Garfield, Ph.D., changed this through his concept of “citation indexing,” or harnessing the cited references in scholarly publications. Garfield’s innovation in recording and tracking these citations, each one a direct reflection of previous work that an author deemed of significance and useful, created a way for scientists and scholars to make intellectual connections and identify work related to their own. Garfield realized quantitative analysis of citations could illuminate areas of concentration and influence, providing an objective data point for assessing the impact of journals, individuals, institutions, and nations.

“I had always visualized a time when scholars would become citation conscious and to a large extent they have, for information retrieval, evaluation and measuring impact,” said Dr. Garfield, founder of the Science Citation Index. “I did not imagine that the worldwide scholarly enterprise would grow to its present size or that bibliometrics would become so widespread.”

The first SCI was a five-volume print edition indexing 613 journals and 1.4 million citations. The data were later issued on magnetic tape, made available via online vendors, and distributed on compact discs (CD-ROMs). Coverage was expanded to the social sciences in 1973 with the creation of the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and to the arts and humanities in 1978 with the introduction of the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI). These were later combined with the SCIE, a more expanded version of the SCI, in a Web environment in 1997, and the Web of Science was born.

Dr. Garfield proposed in 1965 a metric to measure and compare impact of journals that in 1975 became Journal Citation Reports. In 2001, additional databases became available on the Web of Knowledge platform, including Derwent Innovations Index, ISI Proceedings, and BIOSIS. These databases and more have been integrated into the new Web of Science platform, including the Book Citation Index and Data Citation Index.

Dr. Eugene Garfield on the origin of the SCI

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