5.0046 Citations (3/120)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 14 May 91 22:16:06 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0046. Tuesday, 14 May 1991.

(1) Date: Tue, 14 May 1991 15:34:05 -0400 (41 lines)
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (Willard McCarty)
Subject: citations, counted & uncountable

(2) Date: Tue, 14 May 91 16:20:33 EDT (16 lines)
From: Christian Boissonnas <CBY@CORNELLC>
Subject: Citations, periodical prices

(3) Date: Tue, May 14, 1991 9:16:21 AM (63 lines)
From: Adam Engst <ace%tidbits.UUCP@theory.TN.CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: Re:5.0031 Copyright (2/18

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 14 May 1991 15:34:05 -0400
From: mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca (Willard McCarty)
Subject: citations, counted & uncountable

As I think some of my colleagues have pointed out, there is something
terribly wrong with the model that measures the importance or
singificance of published work by the number of times it is cited. For
an anecdotal fact, the secondary literature that has influenced me
most would surely rank low in a list of citations ordered by
frequency. Some material I do not cite because it is badly done; some
because the debt is simply too great. Occasionally publications are
cited because they are bad, sometimes in spite of their incompetence.

Citations can be enormously helpful to a reader. One thing I like to
do is to construct fat footnotes that summarize work in a particular
area -- a way of passing on the benefits of a convention from which I
have profited enormously. Citations can also, however, be merely a
kind of posturing, a sign of insecurity, or worse, as I think has been

Surely citations play different roles in different fields. Within a
given field (at least in the humanities) scholars cite their
colleagues to varying degrees. Some of this depends on the stature of
the scholar (a senior person may not have any citations at all to
secondary literature and be able to get away with such conscious
poverty), some on the kind of thing being written.

All that having been said, it remains quite clear that too much is
being published before its time. I plead with those who have the power
to take this as a fact and to take it into account before making major
decisions on how to deploy electronic resources to academic
publishing. As Roger Noll (Economics, Stanford) pointed out at a
recent conference I attended, the crisis in scholarly publishing is a
systemic crisis, not simply a monetary one.

"I'm sorry, Professor Smith, the significance of your work is 2% below
the minimum required for a promotion."

Willard McCarty

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------21----
Date: Tue, 14 May 91 16:20:33 EDT
From: Christian Boissonnas <CBY@CORNELLC>
Subject: Citations, periodical prices

Humanists who are following the current discussion on citations and periodical
prices may be interested in knowing about the _Newsletter on Serial Pricing
Issues_. This electronic newsletter is edited by Marcia Tuttle, Serials
Librarian at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. From its
creation a few years ago it has documented the growing crisis in libraries
pertaining to the acquisition of scholarly periodicals. It deals with the
economic issues involved, but also with the role of journals in the scholarly
community as well as the needs of scholars for current information regardless
of format.

Anyone interested in receiving the _newsletter_ should write to Marcia Tuttle

(3) --------------------------------------------------------------75----
Date: Tue, May 14, 1991 9:16:21 AM
From: Adam Engst <ace%tidbits.UUCP@theory.TN.CORNELL.EDU>
Subject: Re:5.0031 Copyright (2/18

RE>5.0031 Copyright (2/189)

In regard to the Xanadu scheme for publishing royalties, I certainly admit the
surface problems with the 4-line mathematical theorem from the genius and in
citing mediocre works (the problem of citing yourself is moot because if you
wrote it once, nothing changes if you cite yourself - it's still your work and
you don't pay yourself for inclusion, though you are rewarded in the same way
if someone reads the citation or the original).

I do think the problems are less of a problem than it may seem. Take the
mathematical genius. If that 4 line theorem is truly genius-level work, then
**everyone** in that field will have to read it. The longer and less impressive
theorem will not provoke the same level of readership, ideally so that the
short theorem still earns more on the per-byte level. Even still, the short
theorem, being work of genius, will be around forever, continually generating
royalties, whereas the longer theorem will fade into obscurity quickly and
cease to generate money. So you have to consider the factor of longevity - a
joke that you think up about a temporal event would earn you less money than a
joke that could be funny for a hundred years, if such a thing is possible.

The time factor will handle the mediocre citations as well. It is true that
they will be cited for refutation, but without other redeeming value they will
soon be ignored, just as mediocre work is ignored quickly now. If your work is
good, it will continue to be cited; if your work is lousy, people will slam on
it briefly and then move on to more productive tasks.

One aspect I think some are missing here is that a mere citation does little
for one. It is included work, quotations, graphics, charts, etc, that will earn
secondary and tertiary and so on royalties. What the citation does do is make
it easy for the reader of your work to traverse the link to the work you've
cited and read that in its entirety (and pay that author royalties as well). If
you include selected text as well, the reader may not want to traverse the
link, particularly in the case of the refutation, at which point the original
author gets a little money from your quoted text, but not as much as if the
reader read the entire included paper.

So the Xanadu scheme works both on per-byte and popularity methods, which
should remove the iniquities mentioned above. Of course, I'm merely working
from what I've read and what Ted Nelson has said about Xanadu, so I have no
idea what will really show up. One thing Humanists might also be interested in
is Xanadu's integrated version control system. There is no way to get rid of
previous versions and corrections (or at least none that I've seen), so it is
always possible to traverse the temporal links back to previous versions of the
work, something which can be of interest at times.

I've heard that the address I gave last time might not work, so if you wish to
get in touch with Xanadu via email, try these addresses instead.

xanadu@xanadu.com (general info)
joel@xanadu.com (Joel Voelz, marketing & business info)
sue@xanadu.com (Sue Schumaker, general & developer info)

cheers ... -adam

Adam C. Engst Editor of TidBITS, the weekly electronic Macintosh journal

ace@tidbits.tcnet.ithaca.ny.us The best way to predict the future
pv9y@crnlvax5, pv9y@vax5.cit.cornell.edu is to invent it. -Alan Kay