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Evolution of Scientific Information

Scientific knowledge has been defined as "the objective knowledge of the universe and its phenomena, generated by the scientific method of inquiry and validated to conform with empirical observations of natural phenomena."* Michael Faraday, the famous chemist, once stated that the three necessary stages of useful research were to begin it, to end it, and to publish it.** The importance of communication in the sciences arises from the fact that the objective knowledge of science is cumulative in nature. Each new bit of knowledge adds to, modifies, refines, or sometimes refutes that which came before.
 
The following diagram illustrates the Research Publication Cycle, which includes the production, dissemination and assimilation of scientific information in primary, secondary and tertiary sources.

 

The Search Strategy may proceed in the opposite direction from the Research/Publication cycle, with the scientist consulting tertiary and secondary information for background information before accessing rthe primary literature.

* Allan Kent and Harold Lancour, eds. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (New York: Dekker, 1979), s.v. "Scientific Literature," by K. Subramanyam, 392.
** Ibid., 391.

Wheel of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources
 

This diagram and supporting text have been adapted from "Evolution of Scientific Information." [From Allan Kent and Harold Lancour, eds., Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science (New York, 1979), s.v. "Scientific Literature," by K. Subramanyam, 394.


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