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Biographical materials of mathematicians and natural scientists in “Bulletin of Experimental Physics and Elementary Mathematics” (1886–1917): meaningful and content analysis

Journal: History of science and technology (Vol.12, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ; ; ;

Page : 279-301

Keywords : biography; prosopography; meaningful analysis; content analysis; mathematicians; natural scientists;

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The article presents the results of a study of the features of biographical and prosopographic materials about famous mathematicians and natural scientists, published in one of the most authoritative journals “Bulletin of Experimental Physics and Elementary Mathematics”, which was published in Kyiv and Odesa during 1886–1917. In fact, the journal was an unofficial periodical printed branch of the Mathematical Department of the Novorossiysk Society of Naturalists. The purpose of the study is to conduct a meaningful and content analysis of the texts of the journal articles, which reveal biographies, features of labor activity and participation in scientific research of famous scientists. At the same time, the authors used scientific methods to conduct a meaningful analysis of the subject of research – analysis and synthesis, generalization and systematization. In the process of quantitative content analysis, text quantification, empirical data collection, their generalization, and mathematical and statistical processing were used. As a result of the study of biographical materials of the journal over the period, its authors came to the following conclusions. Firstly, the materials of the journal about famous domestic and foreign mathematicians and natural scientists were both biographical and prosopographic in nature. Moreover, the motives for the appearance of such publications, as a rule, were “round” dates from the moment of birth, from the beginning of creative activity, from the moment an important work was released, or from the moment of death (or the fact of death) of the subject of publication. All such articles in the journal are conditionally classified by the authors into brief biographical and prosopographic notes, detailed biographical and prosopographic articles, and obituaries. Secondly, the total volume of biographical and prosopographic materials for the entire period of publication of the journal was 2.88% of the total volume of the journal. At the same time, the journal contained materials about 84 scientists. The largest journal volume by the editors (more than 5 pages for each) was provided by 27 scientists and this amounted to 72.7% of the total volume of biographical material; this group included 9 domestic scientists and 18 foreigners. In total, the editors allotted an average of 4.89 pages for each domestic scientist, and 5.89 pages for each foreign scientist. The largest volume of materials was about physicists (46.42% of the total volume of biographical materials) and mathematicians (35.44%). Thirdly, the results of a meaningful analysis allow us to conclude that the published biographical and prosopographic materials of the journal are of high quality. This was largely facilitated by the careful selection of the authors of articles (or sources of materials), as well as the special requirements of the editors for documenting sources of materials in paginated links. Fourthly, the “inattention” of the editorial staff of the journal to a number of “round dates” of famous domestic and foreign mathematicians and physicists, as well as the uneven volumes allocated by the journal for biographies, indicate the absence of a clear editorial policy of the journal in the issue of allocating printed volumes for systematic biographical statements and research.

Last modified: 2023-01-06 14:08:25