January 24, 2022

Milestones: Science Citation Index (Web of Science) Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Even if you don’t use or even know about Science Citation Index/Web of Science some of the concepts it pioneered that were developed by Dr. Eugene Garfield are now utilized in the relevancy algorithm of most web search engines.

At the bottom of this post we’ve included a link to a 1998 paper by Sergey Brin and Larry Page that introduced Google. The paper includes multiple mentions of citation analysis. In fact, these concepts helped make Google different than all of the other web search engine online at the time. In other words, it helped Google become Google.

From Thomson Reuters:

The Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters today announced the 50th anniversary of the Science Citation Index (SCI), an antecedent to the Web of Science.


Today’s legacy began in the 1950s when searching scholarly literature was a challenging process. Eugene Garfield, Ph.D., changed this through his concept of “citation indexing,” or harnessing the cited references in scholarly publications. Garfield’s innovation in recording and tracking these citations, each one a direct reflection of previous work that an author deemed of significance and useful, created a way for scientists and scholars to make intellectual connections and identify work related to their own. Garfield realized quantitative analysis of citations could illuminate areas of concentration and influence, providing an objective data point for assessing the impact of journals, individuals, institutions and nations.

“I had always visualized a time when scholars would become citation conscious and to a large extent they have, for information retrieval, evaluation and measuring impact,” said Dr. Garfield, founder of the Science Citation Index. “I did not imagine that the worldwide scholarly enterprise would grow to its present size or that bibliometrics would become so widespread.”

The first SCI was a five-volume print edition indexing 613 journals and 1.4 million citations. The data were later issued on magnetic tape, made available via online vendors, and distributed on compact discs (CD-ROMs). Coverage was expanded to the social sciences in 1973 with the creation of the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and to the arts and humanities in 1978 with the introduction of the Arts & Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI). These were later combined with the SCIE, a more expanded version of the SCI, in a Web environment in 1997, and the Web of Science was born.

More From Thomson Reuters

Science Citation Index 50th Anniversary Materials


  • Video Interview With Dr. Eugene Garfield
  • Vintage Tutorials by Dr. Garfield
  • Timeline

Some Additional Selections

See Also: Direct to Papers, Commentaries, and Other Materials by Dr. Garfield (via UPenn Libraries)
Essential reading for anyone interested in data retrieval.

See Also: The Future of Citation Indexing (Peter Jacso Interviews Eugene Garfield)

See Also: More Interviews of Dr. Garfield (via UPenn Libraries)

Worth Noting: Citation indexing is mentioned several times in Sergey Brin’s and Larry Page’s paper that introduced Google.
See: “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine” (1998)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.