"Nations Can Publish or Perish"? Scientific Metrics and Development

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Abstract Summary
After World War II, as science became attached to the discourse of international development, analyses of the scientific literature became a key source for producing national comparisons of scientific productivity. This paper will focus on the rise of the Science Citation Index and will suggest that the uptake of this new tool was connected as much to its applications to producing measures of scientific producitivy as to its use as a literature search tool. Today it is clear that tools for measuring science are political as much as they are technical. By operationalizing universalist concepts such as quality and significance, they are means by which to legitimate or marginalize particular national research collectives. Historical accounts usually imply that the rise of science metrics and their application to policy was a natural consequence of new technologies for the automatic collection, manipulation, and distribution of publishing data. But it also depended on contested ethical and sociological claims about public and private communication, access to scientific findings, and the role of the scientific literature in the global circulation of knowledge largely articulated by scholars based in the United States. This paper juxtaposes the claims of advocates such as Derek de Solla Price and Robert Merton with early critics outside the USA such as Edmundo Fuenzalida and later Léa Velho whose work began to show that there was a geopolitics to scientific authorship, reading, and citation that problematized their infrastructural role in accounts of the universality of science.
Abstract ID :
Submission Type
Organized Session
Abstract Topic
Aspects of Scientific Practice/Organization
Chronological Classification :
20th century, late
Self-Designated Keywords :
scientometrics, sociology of science, development, global science, information technology, book history