Research, bibliometrics and Bradford’s Law

Bradford’s Law, as explained by the Weekly Peedja, estimates the “exponentially diminishing returns of extending a search for references in science journals”. It suggests that articles published in scientific journals follow, more or less, a Pareto distribution. As with all power laws, this means that a small number of articles are responsible for the vast majority of citations. This is still taken to be that which underlies modern bibliometric and citation software such as Thomson Reuters’s InCites, though of course there are alternative approaches being developed, such as AltMetrics. The question I wish to ask is whether Bradford’s Law is any longer sufficient in a world of so-called “big data”. I have read that we apparently do not have a “good explanation” for why Bradford’s Law “works”, but I would suggest that we have a sufficient explanation which isn’t necessarily exhaustive. That is simply the fact that our attention is finite, given that we cannot read everything, nor forever. Our reading is intentional, goal directed, and so we want to read with maximum efficiency. If we are working on a particular area of research, it behoves us to engage or at least be familiar with what the majority of people are reading and working on.  Continue reading

Networks and philosophical style

Does a new subject in philosophy lead to a new style in philosophy? Sometimes it does, because it causes us to drop previous disputes, or to take up preoccupations. This is the content however, as contrasted with its expression. How does new content lead to a new style, and is this only of interest in terms of aesthetics or rhetoric? Does a different style of philosophy imply new thought?

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