1896  Pareto: the first power law; related to income distribution

1913  Auerbach finds hyperbolic relationship between the rank and the size of German cities (what we nowadays call Zipf's law)

1916 Hyperbolic nature of word use (Zipf's law): J.-B. Estoup

1917 "The history of comparative anatomy": publication counts + graphical representation: F.J. Cole and Nellie Eales

1922 The term 'statistical bibliography': Wyndham Hulme

1922 Dresden's work on the publications of the Chicago section (mathematics)

1926 Lotka's law: "Frequency distribution of scientific productivity"

1927 Citation analysis: Gross & Gross

1928 Hyperbolic nature of word use: Condon

1929 Zipf's Ph.D. thesis

1932 Selected studies of the principle of relative frequency (Chinese): Zipf

1934 Sources of information on specific subjects: Bradford's law

1934  Paul Otlet uses the term 'bibliométrie' in his Traité de Documentation

1935 'The psychobiology of language';  first clear formulation of "Zipf's law" by Zipf

1936 Journal-to-journal cross-citation network: Hulsey Cason & Marcella Lubotsky

1948 Characteristics of the literature of chemistry and physics; use of 'key journals': Herman Fussler

1948  "Documentation": Bradford

1948 A mathematical theory of communication: Claude Shannon

1948 Term 'librametrics' proposed by Ranganathan

1949 Zipf: Human behavior and the principle of least effort

1954 Mandelbrot: Structure formelle des texts et communication

1955 "Citation indexes for science": Garfield

1956 Bibliographic coupling idea: Fano

1960 Index of realized research potential: Raisig

1961-1965 Bibliographic coupling: Kessler

1963 Science Citation Index

1963 Little science, big science: Price

1963 Journal impact factor: Garfield & Sher

1964 Goffman: contagion/epidemic idea

1965 "Networks of scientific papers": Price

1966 Naukometria = scientometrics: Nalimov

1966-1968 Co-mentioning = co-citation idea: Rosengren

1967 Leimkuhler function

1968 Matthew effect: Merton

1969 "Statistical Bibliography: an interim  bibliography" :

 Alan Pritchard

1969 The term 'bibliometrics': Alan Pritchard

1969 Equivalence of bibliometric laws (strongly suggested): Fairthorne

1972 Ortega hypothesis: Coles

1973 Social Science Citation Index

1973 Co-citation: Henry Small +  Irina Marshakova

1975 Categories of citations: Moravcsik & Murugesan

1975 First international Research Forum in Information Science (IRFIS): London - B.C. Brookes

1976 Success-breeds-success: Price

1976 Journal Citation Reports

1977 Mandelbrot: "The fractal geometry of nature"

1978 Journal Scientometrics founded

1978 Arts & Humanities Citation Index

1978 Persuasiveness: Gilbert

1979 Term 'informetrics" : Nacke

1983 Co-word analysis: Callon and Courtial

1983 Evaluation of big science: Martin & Irvine

1983 Van Raan, Moed and their team perform evaluations of university research groups

1984 Eugene Garfield receives the first Derek J. de Solla Price medal (list of all awardees)

1985 Citer motivations: Terrence Brooks

1986 Nicholls' fitting procedure

1987 First International Conference (ISSI)

1988-1992 First regional large-scale citation index (China)

2005 The h-index


This timeline is, of course, highly subjective. Who is to decide which events in the history of bibliometrics are really outstanding? Even priority (cf. co-citation) is not undisputed. Anyway, I hope no one will feel offended by this table. Factual errors may always be signalled to me.

                Ronald Rousseau

Ronald Rousseau:


Highly cited researcher (2014) 


Doctoraat 022

Dilruba Mahbuba (Ruba) and her doctoral jury: December 17, 2012

Profs. Colpaert, Engels, Nyssen, Delsaerdt, dr. Mahbuba and me