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The historical roots of iMetrics: 
Referenced Publication Years Spectroscopy (RPYS) routinized and applied to
Scientometrics, Journal of Informetrics, and (a subset of) JASIST

Loet Leydesdorff, Lutz Bornmann, Werner Marx, and Staša Milojević

We have developed a (freeware) routine for "referenced publication years
spectroscopy" (RPYS) and apply this method to the historiography of
"iMetrics," that is, the junction of the journals Scientometrics,
Informetrics, and the relevant subset of JASIST (approx. 20%) that shapes
the intellectual space for the development of information metrics
(bibliometrics, scientometrics, informetrics, and webometrics). The
application to information metrics (our own field of research) provides us
with the opportunity to validate this methodology, and to add a reflection
about using citations for the historical reconstruction. The results show
that the field is rooted in individual contributions of the 1920s-1950s
(e.g., Alfred J. Lotka), and was then shaped intellectually in the early
1960s by a confluence of the history of science (Derek de Solla Price),
documentation (e.g., Michael M. Kessler's "bibliographic coupling"), and
"citation indexing" (Eugene Garfield). Institutional development at the
interfaces between science studies and information science has been
reinforced by the new journal Informetrics since 2007. In a concluding
reflection, we return to the question of how the historiography of science
using algorithmic means--in terms of citation practices--can be different
from an intellectual history of the field based, for example, on reading
source materials. 

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