Institutional Repository A bibliometric study of taxonomic botany
- Christopher Walton, Anne Morris
A preliminary citation analysis of the literature of systematic botany (plant taxonomy) was based on 1986 issues of Brittonia, Systematic Botany, and Taxon. These three journals together covered the three facets of systematic activity: alpha-taxonomy, beta-taxonomy, and phylogeny. The three journals Included 164 papers, of which 105 dealt specifically with taxonomy or nomenclature, and cited a total of 53 theses, 804 book titles, and 567 journal titles. Nonbook citations totaled 1055 (698 from the exclusively taxonomic papers); journal citations numbered 2068 (1168 from taxonomic works). The decade with the greatest number of citations was 1977-1966, but the proportion of older citations was much higher than what would be expected for scientific literature. The list of titles is highly diversified, reflecting the nature of systematic botany. Internal citations (citations accompanying lists of nomenclatural synonymies but not repeated in the Literature Cited section) account for 11% (4-23%) of the total number of journal titles, 11% (5-20%) of the journal citations, and 23% (3-33%) of the book titles cited. In order to recover 80% of the relevant citations in botany (determined from the total citation count), one would need to obtain 34% of the titles; for systematic botany specifically, 60% of the journal titles would be required. Comparatively few of the titles cited in these three journals (ca. 6%) are included in the subject list for botany in the Science Citation Index, whereas approximately 59% are covered by Biological Abstracts. This helps account for the preference of systematic botanists for the Abstracts in doing literature searches. Invisible colleges, subject specialization based on plant families/genera, and the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature all have important roles in determining the literature requirements and idiosyncrasies of publication in the field.