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The Relationship between Literature Scatter and Journal Accessibility in an Academic Special Library

Collection Building

ISSN: 0160-4953

Article publication date: 1 January 1991

Abstract

Among several “laws” that have been discussed in the literature of bibliometrics, the one best known is that commonly referred to as Bradford's Law of Scatteing. A substantial body of literature exists on how the law is best represented mathematically but, for our present purposes, it is enough to consider the phenomenon at a broader conceptual level. The law, as first described by Bradford, refers to the scatter of journal articles over journal titles. If a comprehensive search is performed over a particular time period and all, or virtually all, journal articles on the search topic are discovered, it is possible to rank the journal titles by number of articles on the topic they contribute. At the top of the list might appear a single title that contributed, say, 145 articles. At the bottom of the list might appear many journals that have only contributed a single article each to the subject. The ranked list can be divided into a number of “zones” (Bradford used three zones but four or more might be used) such that each zone contains approximately the same number of journal articles. This being so, the number of journals in each zone increases at an approximately geometric rate. This is illustrated by a simple example:

Citation

Lancaster, F.W., Gondek, V., McCowan, S. and Reese, h. (1991), "The Relationship between Literature Scatter and Journal Accessibility in an Academic Special Library", Collection Building, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 19-22. https://doi.org/10.1108/eb023293

Publisher

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MCB UP Ltd

Copyright © 1991, MCB UP Limited