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, 37 (5), 691-728

From Eugenics to Scientometrics: Galton, Cattell, and Men of Science


From Eugenics to Scientometrics: Galton, Cattell, and Men of Science

Benoît Godin. Soc Stud Sci.


In 1906, James McKeen Cattell, editor of Science, published a directory of men of science. American Men of Science was a collection of biographical sketches of thousands of men of science in the USA and was published periodically. It launched, and was used in, the very first systematic quantitative studies on science. Cattell used two concepts for his statistics: productivity, defined as the number of men of science a nation produces, and performance or merit, defined as scientific contributions to research as judged by peers. These are the two dimensions that still define measurement of scientific productivity today: quantity and quality. This paper analyzes the emergence of statistics on science and the very first uses to which they were put. It argues that the measurement of science emerged out of interest in great men, heredity and eugenics, and the contribution of eminent men to civilization. Among these eminent men were men of science, the population of whom was thought to be in decline and insufficiently appreciated and supported. Statistics on men of science thus came to be collected to document the case, and to contribute to the advancement of science and the scientific profession.

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