The Human Face of Science

Why do we wait until the death of our colleagues to commemorate the achievements of their lives? Among scientists, the first biographical account is too often the obituary notice. And even when written by a well-informed associate, the biography or obituary, being essentially a view from the outside, cannot substitute for the rich personal details and revealing statements found in first-person accounts. There are many kinds of records that we and later generations require for a substantial under

Eugene Garfield
Dec 14, 1986

Why do we wait until the death of our colleagues to commemorate the achievements of their lives? Among scientists, the first biographical account is too often the obituary notice. And even when written by a well-informed associate, the biography or obituary, being essentially a view from the outside, cannot substitute for the rich personal details and revealing statements found in first-person accounts. There are many kinds of records that we and later generations require for a substantial understanding of the human element in science, but auto-biography ranks high among them.

In this age of Big Science, it is seldom acknowledged that such intangibles as character, personal preference, and even idiosyncrasy can act as moving forces. To many, science in the late twentieth century resembles an impersonal, mechanized Leviathan. And this is not only the view of the public. In counting the success of our latest project, how many of...

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