The distribution of references in a collection of pertinent source documents can be described and predicted by the relation where the parameter ß is related to the subject field and the completeness of the collection. The model is used to predict the reference yield of abstracting journals in a search for thermophysical property data. It is used also to explain differences among various literature studies of the past in terms of differences in subject and comprehensiveness of search. The model is derived from S. C. Bradford's ‘law of scattering’ and is called the Bradford Distribution.
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