Eugene Eli Garfield (September 16, 1925 – February 26, 2017) was an American linguist and businessman, one of the founders of bibliometrics and scientometrics. He helped to create Current Contents, Science Citation Index (SCI), Journal Citation Reports, and Index Chemicus, among others, and founded the magazine The Scientist.
Garfield was born in 1925 in New York City as Eugene Eli Garfinkle, and was raised in a Lithuanian-Italian Jewish family. He studied at the University of Colorado and University of California, Berkeley before getting a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Columbia University in 1948. Garfield also received a degree in Library Science from Columbia University in 1953 He went on to do his PhD in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, which he completed in 1961 for developing an algorithm for translating chemical nomenclature into chemical formulas.
Garfield founded the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), which was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. ISI formed a major part of the science division of Thomson Reuters. In October 2016 Thomson Reuters completed the sale of its intellectual property and science division; it is now known as Clarivate Analytics.
Garfield is responsible for many innovative bibliographic products, including Current Contents, the Science Citation Index (SCI), and other citation databases, the Journal Citation Reports, and Index Chemicus. He is the founding editor and publisher of The Scientist, a news magazine for life scientists. In 2003, the University of South Florida School of Information was honored to have him as lecturer for the Alice G. Smith Lecture. In 2007, he launched HistCite, a bibliometric analysis and visualization software package.
Following ideas inspired by Vannevar Bush's highly cited 1945 article As We May Think, Garfield undertook the development of a comprehensive citation index showing the propagation of scientific thinking; he started the Institute for Scientific Information in 1955 (it was sold to the Thomson Corporation in 1992). According to Garfield, "the citation index ... may help a historian to measure the influence of an article — that is, its 'impact factor'". The creation of the Science Citation Index made it possible to calculate impact factor, which ostensibly measures the importance of scientific journals. It led to the unexpected discovery that a few journals like Nature and Science were core for all of hard science. The same pattern does not happen with the humanities or the social sciences.
His entrepreneurial flair in having turned what was, at least at the time, an obscure and specialist metric into a highly profitable business has been noted.
Garfield's work led to the development of several information retrieval algorithms, like the HITS algorithm and PageRank. Both use the structured citation between websites through hyperlinks. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin acknowledged Gene in their development of PageRank, the algorithm that powers their company's search engine.
Garfield was awarded the John Price Wetherill Medal in 1984 and the Richard J. Bolte Sr. Award in 2007. The Association for Library and Information Science Education has a fund for doctoral research through an award named after Garfield.
Garfield was married and had a daughter and three sons, as well as a step-daughter.