Eugene Garfield Who conceived Impact Factor Dies at the age of 91 Years


 Obituary note

Eugene Garfield Who conceived
Impact Factor 
Dies at the age of 91 Years

(September 16, 1925 – February 26, 2017)

Eugene Garfield who conceived the Impact Factor was born in 1925 in New York City and was raised in a Lithuanian-Italian Jewish family. Garfield was married to Maher. He had a daughter and three sons, as well as a step-daughter.[1]

He received a PhD in Structural Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1961. Dr. Garfield founded the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), which was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ISI formed a major part of the science division of Thomson Reuters. In October 2016 Thomson Reuters completed the sale of its intellectual property and science division; it is now known as Clarivate Analytics Garfield is responsible for many innovative bibliographic products, including Current Contents, the Science Citation Index (SCI), and other citation databases, the Journal Citation Reports, and Index Chemicus. He is the founding editor and publisher of The Scientist, a news magazine for life scientists. In 2003, the University of South Florida School of Information was honored to have him as lecturer for the Alice G. Smith Lecture. In 2007, he launched HistCite, a bibliometric analysis and visualization software package.

Following ideas inspired by Vannevar Bush's famous 1945 article "As We May Think", Garfield undertook the development of a comprehensive citation index showing the propagation of scientific thinking; he started the Institute for Scientific Information in 1955 (it was sold to the Thomson Corporation in 1992. According to Garfield, "the citation index ... may help a historian to measure the influence of an article — that is, its 'impact factor'" The creation of the Science Citation Index made it possible to calculate impact factor which ostensibly measures the importance of scientific journals. It led to the unexpected discovery that a few journals like Nature and Science were core for all of hard science. The same pattern does not happen with the humanities or the social sciences. His entrepreneurial flair in having turned what was, at least at the time, an obscure and specialist metric into a highly profitable business has been noted.

Garfield's work led to the development of several Information Retrieval algorithms, like HITS and Pagerank. Both use the structured citation between websites through hyperlinks. The Association for Library and Information Science Education has a fund for doctoral research through an award named after Garfield.


  1. a b c d "Scientometrics Pioneer Eugene Garfield Dies". The Scientist. February 27, 2017.
  2. Garfield, Eugene, Blaise Cronin, and Helen Barsky Atkins.The Web of Knowledge: A Festschrift in Honor of Eugene Garfield. Medford, N.J.: Information Today, 2000.
  3. "Deeds and Dreams of Eugene Garfield" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  4. World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services. Retrieved 14 October 2013.
  5. Wiliams, Robert V. (July 29, 1997). "Interview with Eugene Garfield" (PDF). Center for Oral History, Chemical Heritage Foundation.
  7.  "Thomson Corporation acquired ISI". Online. July 1992. Retrieved 2015-01-15.
  8. Garfield E (1955). "Citation indexes for science: A new dimension in documentation through association of ideas".Science. 122: 108–11. doi:10.1126/science.122.3159.108. PMID 14385826.
  9. Garfield E (2006). "The history and meaning of the journal impact factor". JAMA. 295 (1): 90–3.doi:10.1001/jama.295.1.90. PMID 16391221.
  10. "Editorial". J. Biol. Phys. Chem. 9 (4): 139–40. 2009.

Further Reading

"Fifty Years of Citation Indexing and Analysis" (Available online). Thomson Reuters. October 6, 2010. Fifty years ago, on July 15, 1955, Eugene Garfield, Ph.D published his groundbreaking paper on citation indexing, "Citation Indexes for Science: A New Dimension in Documentation through Association of Ideas." This innovative paper envisioned information tools that allow researchers to expedite their research process, evaluate the impact of their work, spot scientific trends, and trace the history of modern scientific thoughts.