Information Science


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information science

[‚in·fər¦mā·shən ¦sī·əns]
(science and technology)
The theory and techniques relating to the collection, classification, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of recorded knowledge.

Information Science

 

the discipline that studies the structure and general properties of scholarly information and the principles of its generation, reorganization, transmission, and use in different spheres of human activity.

Many questions presently included in information science were developed long ago in such other disciplines as library science, bibliography, and linguistics. In the early 20th century the Belgian jurist and scholar P. Otlet proposed the unification of processes involving the gathering, analysis, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of scholarly documents under the general name “documentation,” which sometimes serves as a synonym for information science. The International Institute of Bibliography, founded by Otlet and the Belgian jurist and public figure H. Lafontaine in 1895, was renamed the International Institute of Documentation in 1931; in 1938 it became the International Federation on Documentation. It is still the most important international organization, bringing together specialists in information science and scholarly information work.

In 1945 an article appeared by the American scientist and engineer V. Bush entitled “As We May Think,” in which the question of the mechanization of information retrieval was first widely posed. International conferences on scholarly information (London, 1948; Washington, 1958) indicated the first stages of development of information science. The study of the principles of the dissemination of scholarly publications undertaken by S. Bradford (Great Britain, 1948) was important. Until the mid-1960’s research concentrated on the development of principles and methods of information retrieval and the technological means for their implementation. W. E. Batten (Great Britain) and C. N. Mooers and M. Taube (USA) laid the foundations of coordinated indexing. B. Vickery and D. Foskett (Great Britain), J. W. Perry, A. Kent, J. Costello, H. P. Luhn, and C. Ber-nier (USA), and J.-C. Gardin (France) worked out the fundamentals of the theory and methods of information retrieval. C. Cleverdon (Great Britain) investigated methods of comparing the technical efficiency of information retrieval systems of different types; R. Shaw (USA) and J. Samain (France) built the first information retrieval devices using microfilm and microfiche, which-served as prototypes of many later information processing systems; C. Carlson (USA) proposed new methods for reproducing documents, which are the basis for contemporary techniques of graphic reproduction.

The current stage of development of information science (1970’s) is characterized by a deeper understanding of the general scholarly value of work on scholarly information and ever wider use of computers. D. Price (USA), developing the ideas of J. Bernal (Great Britain), indicated the possibility of measuring the development of a field by using the indicators and methods of information science. E. Garfield (USA) worked out and introduced new methods of scholarly information service; W. Garvey (USA) studied the information requirements of scholars and specialists and the importance of various processes of scholarly communication. The general theory of information science was formulated abroad in the works of A. Avramescu (Rumania); A. Wysocki and M. Dembowska (Poland); J. Koblitz (GDR); A. Merta (Czechoslovakia); I. Polzovicz (Hungary); E. Pietsch (FRG); A. Rees, R. Taylor, and J. Shera (USA); and R. Fairthrone (Great Britain).

In the USSR the development of information science paralleled the growth of Soviet science and the national economy. In the 1930’s the Commission on the Publication of Indexes of Scholarly Literature was active, and journals of abstracts were issued by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR in the physical and mathematical sciences, chemistry, and other disciplines. This activity developed especially intensively in the 1950’s. The formation of information science as an independent scholarly discipline belongs to the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. In the USSR information science was formally organized in 1952, when the Institute of Scientific Information of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR was created; it is now the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI).

Since 1959 the Council of Ministers of the USSR has issued a number of decrees directed at developing and improving a single general state system of scientific and technical information. Three all-Union conferences on the automated processing of scholarly information (1961, 1963, 1966) were important stages in the development of information science in the USSR. An international symposium on theoretical problems of information science, attended by member countries of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and Yugoslavia (Moscow, 1970), was very important for the development of information science theory. The international exhibitions Inforga-65 and Interorg-tekhnika-66, at which technological means for the integrated mechanization and automation of scholarly information processing, storage, retrieval, and dissemination were demonstrated, were important for the perfection of the techniques of information science. Many Soviet studies in information science are fundamental to its further development: in general information science theory, the works of V. A. Uspenskii and Iu. A. Shreider; in the construction of information retrieval systems, G. E. Vleduts, D. G. Lakhuti, E. F. Skorokhod’ko, and V. P. Cherenin; in scholarly problems of information science, G. M. Dobrov and V. V. Nalimov; in documentation, G. G. Vorob’ev, K. R. Simon, and E. I. Shamurin; and in design of information retrieval devices and other technological means, L. I. Guten-makher, V. A. Kal’manson, and B. M. Rakov.

Information science is divided into the following branches: theory of information science (the subject, methods, content, structure, and properties of scholarly information), scientific communication (informal and formal processes, scholarly information work), information retrieval, the dissemination and use of scholarly information, and the organization and history of scholarly information activity.

The fundamental theoretical goal of information science is the discovery of general principles concerning the generation of scholarly information and its reorganization, transmission, and use in various spheres of human activity. Information science does not study or work out criteria for evaluating the truthfulness, novelty, or utility of scholarly information, or methods for its logical processing to obtain more information. Applied problems of information science consist of developing more efficient methods for performing information processes and determining the optimal scientific communication both within science and between science and industry.

Specific methods from other disciplines are used for studying particular problems and solving applied problems of information science. Cybernetics is used to formalize scholarly information activity in order to automate it and to construct logical information processing computers. The mathematical theory of information is applied in the study of general properties of information in order to guarantee its optimal encoding, long-term storage, and transmission over a distance. Mathematical logic aids the formalization of the processes of logical deduction and the development of information algorithms for programming. Semiotics is used to construct information retrieval systems, compile rules for translating from natural to artificial languages and vice versa, work out principles of indexing, and study transforms of the structure of a text that do not change its meaning. Linguistics helps formulate the principles of automatic translation and information retrieval languages, indexing and abstracting, transcription and transliteration, and the compilation of thesauruses and the ordering of terminology. Psychology is applied in the study of thought processes in the creation and use of scholarly information, the nature of information requirements and their formulation in requests, the development of efficient scanning methods and automated information processing systems, and the construction of information devices. Bibliology, library science, bibliography, and archiving are used to develop optimal forms for a scholarly document and to improve formal processes of scientific communication and systems of secondary publication. Research on scholarship studies informal processes of scientific communication, develops the organizational principles of information service, predicts the development of a field and evaluates its level and rate of growth, and studies the various categories of scholarly information users: Technology provides the technological means for scholarly information processing and for its mechanization and automation. Certain methods of information science, in turn, find use in library science and bibliography (for example, compiling catalogs and indexes).

Scholarly information adequately reflects current scientific knowledge of the objective principles of nature, society, and thought and is used in sociohistorical practice. Since social practice constitutes the basis of the cognition process, not only scholarly investigations but also all forms of human activity transforming nature and society serve as sources of scholarly information. Scholarly information is divided into different kinds according to the areas of its production and use (biological, political, technical, chemical, economic) and according to its purpose (mass, specialized). Hypotheses and theories that subsequently turn out to be wrong are still scholarly information while systematic study and practical tests of their conclusions are conducted. The criterion of usage in general historical practice allows scholarly information to be distinguished from popular or obsolete truths, science fiction, and other unscientific ideas.

The totality of the processes of representation, transmission, and reception of scholarly information constitutes scientific communication. Scholars or specialists necessarily participate in all processes of scientific communication without exception. The degree of their participation may vary and depends on the specific features of the process. A distinction is made between formal and informal processes. Informal processes include those that are performed by scholars and specialists themselves: direct dialogue about investigations or developments being conducted, visits to colleagues’ laboratories and to scientific-technical exhibitions, appearances in lecture halls, exchange of letters and copies of publications, and preparation of results of research and development for publication. Formal processes include editing, publishing, and printing processes; distribution of scholarly publications, including the book industry and library and bibliographic work; the exchange of scholarly literature; archiving, and scholarly information work proper. All formal processes, besides the latter, are not specific to scientific communication and belong to the sphere of mass communication, the basic media of which are the press, radio, and television.

The increasing complexity of scholarly work and the necessity of increasing its efficiency lead to further division, which occurs on various levels: into theoretical and experimental research, and into activities of scholarly investigation, scholarly information, and scholarly organization. Information services are responsible for performing the ever more complex tasks of selecting and processing scholarly information, which may be solved only by the simultaneous use of both the results of information science and the theories and methods of other branches of science. Scholarly information work consists in collecting, processing, storing, and retrieving scholarly information contained in documents, as well as supplying it to scholars and specialists to increase the efficiency of research and development. This activity is being carried out more and more frequently by integrated information systems, based on the principle of a single exhaustive processing of each scholarly document by highly qualified specialists and of inputing the results of such processing into a mechanical complex consisting of a computer and an optical scanning machine. The results are then used for the solution of varied information problems: the publication of journals of abstracts, bulletins of alert information, analytical reviews, and collections of translations; the selective dissemination of information; information reference service; and the copying of documents.

The first major journals of information science appeared in different countries beginning in the mid-1940’s: Journal of Documentation (London, from 1945); Tidskrift for Dokumentation (Stocknolm, from 1945); American Documentation (Washington, from 1950; since 1970, Journal of the American Society for Information Science); Nachrichten fur Dokumentation (Frankfurt am Main, from 1950); Dokumentation (Leipzig, from 1953; since 1969, Informatik)

Since October 1961, the monthly collection Nauchno-tekh-nicheskaia informatsiia has been published in the USSR; since 1967 it has been issued in two series: Organizatsiia i metodika informatsionnoi raboty and Informatsionnye protsessy i sistemy. In 1963 the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI) began to issue the bimonthly (since 1966, monthly) journal of abstracts Nauchnaia i tekhnicheskaia informatsiia, which since 1970 has been published as Informatika. Since 1967 this journal has also been published in English.

The following journals of abstracts on information science are issued abroad: in Great Britain, Library and Information Science Abstracts (London, since 1969; from 1950 to 1968 called Library Science Abstracts); in the USA, Information Science Abstracts (Philadelphia, since 1969; from 1966 to 1968 called Documentation Abstracts); and in France, Bulletin signalétique: Information scientifique et technique (Paris, since 1970). Since 1964 the express information bulletin Teoriia i praktika nauchnoi informatsii and since 1965 collections of translations of foreign publications in information science have been published. The periodical Naukovedenie i informatika has been issued since 1969 in Kiev.

The training of research workers in information science has been carried out through graduate work at VINITI since 1959 and through the training of personnel for scholarly information work since 1963 in the Advanced Superintendents Courses for Engineering and Research Workers, which were renamed in 1972 the Advanced Institute for Information Workers. Young scholars—future users of information—have been trained in the department of scholarly information of Lomonosov Moscow State University since 1964, and engineers for the mechanization and automation of information processes have studied at a number of polytechnic and machine-building institutes. Information disciplines are taught abroad at universities and higher technical schools. There is a tendency to unify the complex of problems of information science and computer technology into a single educational specialization.

REFERENCES

Mikhailov, A. I., A. I. Chernyi, and R. S. Giliarevskii. Osnovy informatiki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.
Mikhailov, A. I., A. I. Chernyi, and R. S. Giliarevskii. Informatsionnye problemy v sovremennoi nauke. Moscow, 1972.
Teoreticheskie problemy informatiki: Sb. st. Moscow, 1968.
Mezhdunarodnyiforum po informatike: Sb. St., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1969.
Bush, V. “As We May Think.” Atlantic Monthly, July 1945, pp. 101–08.
Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, vols. 1–7. New York[et al] 1966–72.
Dembowska, M. Documentation and Scientific Information. Warsaw, 1968.

A. I. MIKHAILOV, A. I. CHERNYI, and R. S. GILIAREVSKII

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