The terms bibliometrics and scientometrics have been introduced almost simultaneously by Pritchard and by Nalimov and Mulchenko in 1969. While Pritchard explained the term bibliometrics as ‘the application of mathematical and statistical methods to books and other media of communication’ (Pritchard, 1969), Nalimov and Mulchenko defined scientometrics as ‘the application of those quantitative methods which are dealing with the analysis of science viewed as an information process’ (Nalimov and Mulchenko, 1969). According to these interpretations, scientometrics is restricted to the measurement of science communication, whereas bibliometrics is designed to deal with more general information processes.

The anyhow fuzzy borderlines between the two specialities almost vanished during the last three decades, and nowadays both terms are used almost as synonyms. Furthermore, the term ‘informetrics’ was introduced by Otto Nacke (1979), who intended to delineate a new discipline from scientometrics. Instead, the field informetrics took the place of the originally broader speciality bibliometrics. The term informetrics was adopted by VINITI (Gorkova, 1988) and stands for a more general subfield of information science dealing with mathematical-statistical analysis of communication processes in science. In contrast to the original definition of bibliometrics, informetrics also deals with electronic media and thus includes topics such as the statistical analysis of the (scientific) text and hypertext systems, library circulations, information measures in electronic libraries, models for Information Production Processes and quantitative aspects of information retrieval as well. In his review entitled "Biblio-, sciento-, infor-metrics??? What are we talking about" Brookes (1990) gave an interesting overview about origin and contexts of these metrics of science, literature and information in general.

The interpretation by Gloria Carrizo-Sainero (2000) considers bibliometrics "the ensemble of methodological knowledge that will serve the application of quantitative techniques in order to evaluate the processes of production, communication and use of scientific information. Its goal is to contribute to the analysis and evaluation of science and research." This gives a clear orientation in direction toward research evaluation that has become the most important application of present-day bibliometric research and technology.

From the above-mentioned general description of the main task of the research field bibliometrics (scientometrics), the following statement becomes quite obvious. Bibliometrics can be used to develop and provide tools to be applied to research evaluation but is not designed to evaluate research results. Furthermore, bibliometrics does not aim at replacing qualitative methods by quantitative approaches and bibliometrics is not designed to override or even to substitute peer reviews or evaluation by experts but qualitative and quantitative methods in science studies should complement each other.