Citation Process: Role and Significance of Citations in Scientific Communication

Cronin, Blaise

This essay takes as its starting point the view that science* needs to be looked at as a large social system. If we are to understand how science works, then we have to know something about the norms and values which guide and constrain the actions of individual scientists. In other words, it may be necessary to look beyond the ‘storybook’ image of science as a selfless and dispas- sionate search after truth; a search in which the individual scientist subjugates personal gain and vanity to the greater communal good. Recent sociological investigation has provided us with a ‘relativist’ account of science derived from observed behaviours, which is far removed from the ‘storybook’ or mythopoeic conception (e.g. Knorr-Cetina and Mulkay, 1983).

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