Little Science, Big Science by Derek J. de Solla Price

By Derek J. de Solla Price

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Sample text

It also follows from the existence of these stable and regular distribution curves that we may now justify on a theoretical basis our previously empirical procedure of using crude num­ bers of periodicals or papers as an index of the size of science. We know now that any measure of total number of journals, papers, or men will give the corresponding number of im­ portant journals, papers, or people. It will be seen that a sHght change in definition—^for example, uncertainty about the mini­ mum allowable level at which a journal may be accounted scientific—will only increase the size of the tail.

Their scores, as nearly as possible on an objective open scale of merit, were such that the top candidate in each year got almost twice the marks of the second, and 30 times that of the 100th candidate. The log-normal character of scientific productivity distributions has previously been suggested by William Shockley, “On the statistics of individual variations of productivity in research laboratories,” Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers, 45 (1957), 279, 1409. GALTON R E V ISIT E D 51 logarithms to base 10, then every unit of s corresponds to about 11 points on the AGCT scale for all but the most solid scientific citizens, and for these it rises to about 20 points.

And so these groups devise mechanisms for day-to-day com­ munication. ^* The existence of such a group might be diagnosed by check­ ing the preprint list of one man and following this by a check of the list of each man mentioned. I think one would soon “ Like government contract research reports, these represent an ob­ noxious (though historically interesting) back-door means of getting pub­ lication for a mass of writing that might be better lost. IN V IS IB L E CO LLEGES 8 5 find a closed group, a small number of hundreds in member­ ship strength, selected from a population of a large number of tens of thousands.

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