The 1960s saw the birth of what is now called “scientometrics”. One of the queries that arose then related to citations of previous literature. Was recent literature cited proportionately more than older literature? Studies by Price, along with that reprinted here, seemed to indicate that the answer was “yes”. This “immediacy effect”, as it was labelled, could be measured in quantitative terms, but how to do so required some thought. For example, what was the best form of index for representing immediacy, and what errors were involved in estimating the effect? Discussions of the usage of past literature could have practical implications for libraries. One question, therefore, was what implications, if any, citation studies had for the provision of journals to library users. On the scientometrics side, there were such questions as why an immediacy effect occurred and to what extent it could be discerned in different subject areas. This article surveys attempts to examine questions like these over the period from the 1960s to the present day, updating an article published in Journal of Documentation in 1967.
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