Application of Bradford’s Law of Scattering to the Physics Literature: a Study of Doctoral Theses Citations at the Indian Institute of Science

Topics: American Physical Society, Nature, Scientific journal Pages: 22 (6897 words) Published: January 9, 2013
DESIDOC Journal of Library & Information Technology, Vol. 30, No. 2, March 2010, pp. 3-14 © 2010, DESIDOC


Application of Bradford’s Law of Scattering to the Physics Literature: A Study of Doctoral Theses Citations at the Indian Institute of Science K.G. Sudhier
Department of Library& Information Science University of Kerala, University Library Building Thiruvananthapuram–695 034, Kerala E-mail:

One of the areas in bibliometric research concerns the application of most commonly used bibliometric laws such as Bradford’s Law of Scattering. The paper gives a review of the scholarly contribution on the various facets of Bradford’s Law. In addition to the theoretical aspects of the law, review covers papers dealing with the application of the law in the various subject fields. A study on five-year data of journals (2004-2008) cited by the physicists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangaluru was carried out to examine the applicability of Bradford’s Law of Scattering, which include 690 periodicals containing 11,319 references collected from 79 doctoral theses during the period 2004-08. Ranked list of journals was prepared, and Physical Review-B with 9.53 per cent citation, followed by Physical Review-A with 7.69 per cent, and Astrophysical Journal with 5.47 per cent citations were the most preferred journals. Applicability of Bradford’s Law in various methods was tested. The journal distribution pattern of the IISc doctoral theses does not fit the Bradford’s distribution pattern. The Bradford multipliers were calculated, and the law found to be applicable with the value of k as 1.2. The distribution of the journals in three zones was made and the number of references in each zone was then estimated. The applicability of Leimkuhler model was also tested with the present data. Keywords: Bradford’s law of scattering, Bradford’s multiplier, physics literature, journal citations, core journals, Indian Institute of Science

In every subject there are some journals which are frequently referred by the researchers because of the close relation between the subject of the journals and the areas of research work. These highly cited journals are listed as core journals of the specific subject. The core journals are considered as ‘central set of journals, which most clearly reflects the conceptual essence of the research being reported in the discipline’1. The core journals always contain a higher concentration of relevant articles in a particular discipline. The concept of core journals is derived from Bradford’s Law of Scattering, which was formulated by Samuel Clement Bradford in 1934. Bradford2 first published his observation of the increasing scatter of relevant journal articles on a given topic, and later in 1948, summarised these observations by relating the number of journals in the nuclear, or most productive Received on 12 October 2009

zone, to the number of journals in successively less productive zones containing equal numbers of papers3. Among the several statistical expressions, Bradford’s Law of Scattering is perhaps the most popular and the best known of all the bibliometric concepts that try to describe the effective working of science by mathematical means4.

Bradford’s Law of scattering has been the main topic of many articles in LIS literature. The discussions of the law take several directions: analysis of the law itself, attempts to refine it, comparison with other laws, and its applications. The first notable paper on the law was by Vickery5 and subsequently by Kendall6. The bipolar nature of the law was further discussed by Wilkinson7. He suggested that the verbal formulation expressed Bradford’s theory, 3

while the graphical formulation expressed his observations. The search for an exact formulation of Bradford’s Law was stated by Vickery and Leimkuhler8 and was further pursued by many other authors. In...
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