The British government’s scheme for “rationalizing” support for science, begun last year with an eval nation of earth science departments, has sparked considerable controversy. Having suffered major cuts in 1981, many U.K. university scientists are chilled by the prospect of further reductions for those departments that receive low performance ratings. Next to be scrutinized are departments of chemistry and physics.

The Institute for Scientific Information recently undertook its own study of the performances in chemistry of five representative universities, using its Science Indicators file, which tracks citations to papers indexed in the Science Citation Index for five-year intervals from 1973 to 1987. A chemistry subset of the file was created, consisting of some 950 chemistry journals representing all specialties. A measure of citations per paper was calculated for all papers published in the set of chemistry journals from each university (no matter from what department) for each five-year period. That...

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