Discovery, Duplication, and Documentation: A Case Study


  • Documentation Research and Training Centre, Bangalore, 3, India


Data on the rate of discovery of antibiotics and the frequency of rediscovery of known antibiotics, from different organisms, in different countries, during the period 1907-1967, are presented. The problems in deeming a rediscovery of a known antibiotic as unnecessary wastage of research potential and the role of documentation in this complex situation are mentioned. The duplication of discoveries reported in a country is the highest in the reports published in that country itself (Self-Duplication). It is also found that the number of cases of self-duplication is the highest in the same year as the publication of the original report. The curve for self-duplication has alternate peaks and troughs for the first ten years of the discovery and then falls off. The emergence of the two specialities - Biochemical Engineering and Biochemical Technology - mainly from the work on antibiotics, is pointed out. The structure of these two subjects as represented in the Colon Classification is discussed.

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