In Memoriam: Eugene Garfield

Eugene Garfield, a former member of SLA who is considered the father of citation analysis and bibliometrics, died February 26 at the age of 91.

Dr. Garfield studied chemistry as an undergraduate, then earned a library degree from Columbia University. He received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania after writing a thesis titled “An Algorithm for Translating Chemical Names to Molecular Formulas.” (In his later years he served on the University of Pennsylvania Library Board of Overseers.)

He devoted much of his professional career to the study of how scientific thinking propagates and the influence of specific scientific articles on later research. He founded the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) in 1955 and used it as a platform for launching the Science Citation Index and other citation databases. His work on citation analysis has been cited by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google, as one of the inspirations for PageRank, an algorithm used by Google Search to rank websites in its search engine results.

“Gene Garfield was a strong supporter of special libraries, especially within SLA,” says Margie Hlava, president of Access Innovations and 2015 recipient of SLA’s John Cotton Dana Award. “He ensured the support of ISI and later Thomson Science at SLA meetings and asked penetrating questions, especially of the PAM, ITE, Pharma and Military divisions. He proved a willing speaker, fiscal sponsor, and reliable sounding board. He was incredibly supportive of the research community and the librarians who worked to provide services to them.”

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