An examination of Lotka's law in the field of Library and Information Studies

Consuella A Askew, Florida International University


The purpose of this study was to test Lotka’s law of scientific publication productivity using the methodology outlined by Pao (1985), in the field of Library and Information Studies (LIS). Lotka’s law has been sporadically tested in the field over the past 30+ years, but the results of these studies are inconclusive due to the varying methods employed by the researchers. A data set of 1,856 citations that were found using the ISI Web of Knowledge databases were studied. The values of n and c were calculated to be 2.1 and 0.6418 (64.18%) respectively. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov (K-S) one sample goodness-of-fit test was conducted at the 0.10 level of significance. The Dmax value is 0.022758 and the calculated critical value is 0.026562. It was determined that the null hypothesis stating that there is no difference in the observed distribution of publications and the distribution obtained using Lotka’s and Pao’s procedure could not be rejected. This study finds that literature in the field of Library and Information Studies does conform to Lotka’s law with reliable results. As result, Lotka’s law can be used in LIS as a standardized means of measuring author publication productivity which will lead to findings that are comparable on many levels (e.g., department, institution, national). Lotka’s law can be employed as an empirically proven analytical tool to establish publication productivity benchmarks for faculty and faculty librarians. Recommendations for further study include (a) exploring the characteristics of the high and low producers; (b) finding a way to successfully account for collaborative contributions in the formula; and, (c) a detailed study of institutional policies concerning publication productivity and its impact on the appointment, tenure and promotion process of academic librarians.

Subject Area

Library science|Information science|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Askew, Consuella A, "An examination of Lotka's law in the field of Library and Information Studies" (2008). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3388194.