Scholarly Communication and Bibliometrics

Christine L. Borgman

As communications and information science mature as disciplines, areas of intersection can be recognized, such as the social aspects of information technology. Editor Christine Borgman, cross-appointed in communications and library/information science departments at UCLA, defines a burgeoning area in the convergence of bibliometrics and scholarly communication. In this expansion of the October 1989 special issue of Communication Research, contributors explore the relationship of "scientific" communication, or the formal presentation of research in journals, with the impact of articles on the scholarly community as measured by their citation in subsequent papers. The underlying thesis is that bibliographic information structure parallels social and intellectual structure. Applying unobtrusive mathematical and statistical techniques to documentation, the bibliometric methodologies of information science and communications provide tools for understanding the dynamics of disciplines, developing policy, and justifying research funding.

Borgman presents 16 essays by American, Swedish, Hungarian, European Community, and Japanese information scientists and communications scholars, many of whom have interdisciplinary expertise. In the introduction she classifies the papers within a matrix co-ordinating the three variables studied--producers such as authors or institutions; artifacts such as articles, journals, or books; and concepts such as textual words or meanings--with four research questions: the nature of scholarly communities and networks such as invisible colleges and research specialties; their growth and evolution reflected in citation analysis of artifacts; the evaluation of scholarly contributions; and diffusion and gatekeeping through citation or content analysis. The essays in this matrix are further grouped by focus into sections in the book on theory and perspective, bibliometric research methods, empirical studies, and conclusions. By having the contributions co-operatively reviewed and edited for internal consistency, and by providing an integrated list of references, Borgman succeeds in eliminating redundancies, filling conceptual gaps such as scholarly communication in the humanities, and making the collection suitable as a textbook.

In addition to its thematic integration, the collection is powerful in its sensitivity to the communities that generate information, and in its expression of the limitations to bibliometrics, such as the need for qualitative research alongside the quantitative. The language is reasonably jargon-free. This reviewer regrets the lack of a Canadian contributor in the international spectrum, as research in both bibliometrics and scholarly communication is being conducted in our universities. The book does not address specifically the impact of electronic publication on scholarly communication. However, in the conclusion William Paisley acknowledges, in his expansion of Borgman's matrix, this as an area of further exploration, along with more sophisticated research using full-text and complementary databases, and the use of additional unobtrusive measures.

Scholarly Communication and Bibliometrics is an excellent theoretical and practical consolidation. It is hoped that Borgman and her collaborators have a sequel in the works.



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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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