In Truth, The `Flood' Of Scientific Literature Is Only A Myth

It is obvious--clearly documentable, in fact--that the quantity of scientific literature is increasing. And it is clear that researchers must find imaginative ways--through computer searches, for example--to be more selective in their approach to taking advantage of the proliferation of printed material. But it is inappropriate to embrace the notion that scientists are being swamped by--indeed, that they are threatened with drowning in--an ever-mounting flood of scientific journals. I've been

Eugene Garfield
Sep 1, 1991
It is obvious--clearly documentable, in fact--that the quantity of scientific literature is increasing. And it is clear that researchers must find imaginative ways--through computer searches, for example--to be more selective in their approach to taking advantage of the proliferation of printed material.

But it is inappropriate to embrace the notion that scientists are being swamped by--indeed, that they are threatened with drowning in--an ever-mounting flood of scientific journals.

I've been trying for years to lay this baseless mythology to rest, because it can foster in a conscientious researcher the debilitating feeling that he or she can't possibly keep up with what's current in a given discipline. Nevertheless, the mythology persists--despite the fact that examination of scientific journal publishing patterns and citation data should serve to debunk it.

The first project I participated in as a young information researcher at Johns Hopkins University involved a survey of medical journals. At that...

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