, Volume 114, Issue 2, pp 637–650 | Cite as

Eugene Garfield: from the metrics of science to the science of metrics

  • Gangan Prathap


Quantity and quality are Aristotelian categories. Ever since Galileo, the defining feature of Science is the accurate measure of quantity, e.g., time, length and mass, to begin with. Length and mass are size dependent. Quality remained an elusive category as it is a size-independent feature. It was Archimedes who first brought a revolution in physics by defining density as a size-independent attribute. A similar revolution was effected in the measurement of science when Eugene Garfield introduced the concept of the citation as a unit of measurement and from this, separated quantity (number of publications) from quality (impact). In this article, we interpret impact as a thermodynamic mean instead of a simplistic arithmetic mean. This opens up rich analogies with the conservation laws of mechanics and thermodynamic features linking disorder and unevenness to entropy. Also as in physics, considerations of dimensional homogeneity play a defining role. Without Garfield’s bold initiative, all this will have eluded us for some time.


Scientometrics Quality Quantity Performance Indicators Citation Impact Journal evaluation Journal impact factor Exergy 


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vidya Academy of Science and TechnologyThrissurIndia
  2. 2.A P J Abdul Kalam Technological UniversityThiruvananthapuramIndia

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