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Background of the Index Project

Scholarly Base: In recent years a substantial literature has been produced in the history of the global spread of science. International conferences have been held and research centres established. Useful newsletters (such as Science and Empire and Pacific Circle) have put together a large international network of researchers. Participation in relevant forums on the internet has grown geometrically. The non-linear, multi-media format of the new information technologies provides an ideal opportunity to experiment with new types of scholarly reference tools.

Chronological Compass: Initially the chronological scope of the Index will extend from 1750 to 1900.

Social and Cultural Parameters: One of the first tasks of the editors will be to identify a final list of social indicators to be examined in each country surveyed. The scope of the work will inevitably depend on the numbers of workers committed to the project and the amount of time that they can give it. As a first approximation, for example, certain of the following social parameters might be surveyed and recorded:

Source of Data: In some cases primary research will be undertaken. But much of this data is already available scattered in the literature of social and intellectual history of science; histories of particular countries; economic history and political economy; histories of empire and cultural imperialism, historical accounts of institutional origins and development; prosopographical studies; sociological examination of processes of professionalisation; economic measures of the growth of R&D, quantitative historical delineation of patterns of scientific growth; and summary examination of the global diffusion and local reception of major scientific ideas.

A number of reference tools already exist but not in a format that is readily accessible or that sets out these parameters in both local and global context. The first task of the editorial board will be to develop a standardised set of categories of approach. Your comments on this question will be particularly valuable.

Wade Chambers
General Editor, Humboldt Index

Want to be involved?

The International Editorial Board is seeking feedback on the proposed Humboldt project now. General enquiries, expressions of interest in the project and critiques of its proposed content and format, should be sent to one of these addresses:

Email: wade@deakin.edu.au


Humboldt Index Project
Sciences in Society Centre
Faculty of Arts
Deakin University
Victoria 3217

We look forward to receiving your submissions and enquiries.

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