Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bibliometrics & Citation Analysis as a Tool

Bibliometrics is an important part of the LIS field and the Information Literacy toolbox (Larivière, 2012).
Bibliometric data is compiled using a citation index and the two leading ones are Thompson Reuters’ Web of Science or Elsevier’s Scopus (see e.g., WoS found at /products_services/science/science_products/a-z/journal_citation_reports/) .  These two services look at citations of scholarly scientific articles and determine their “impact” by the number of times each is cited, where it is cited, and so forth.  Scholarly journals are also tracked this way (DeBellis, 2009; Larivière, 2012). 
While bibliometrics is a general term, there are other related metrics such as scientometrics.  “Scientometrics is the measurement of science communication, and bibliometrics deals with more general information processes” (Patra, Bhattacharya, & Verma, 2006). 
While it all sounds confusing, bibliometrics and scientometrics are widely used in the LIS field today.
Citation analysis helps researchers understand what are the best journals and resources from which to get their information.  I thinks its important today with the proliferation of open source journals and electronic publishing. 

As an analogy, I wouldn't know anything about buying a good car.  They all look the same.  Four tires, an engine, doors, etc.  However, there is a whole industry dedicated to telling us which are the best and safest cars. 

The same with citation analysis.  Which journals are the best?  Which academic discoveries (big or small) are firmly rooted in good science?   This is all done through citation analysis. 

It's also a good tool for self-evaluation.  Many times a journal will make an editorial decision based on an article's "impact factor".  This keeps out research that is done just to get published which is often the case when dealing with institutions that survive on grant money. 

Now, as the literature suggests (Larivière, 2012), citation analysis and bibliometrics is not as accurate in the social sciences and humanities field because the nature of scholarship is different.  SSH disseminates its knowledge differently than the natural sciences but it can still be a useful tool (Patra, Bhattacharya, & Verma, 2006). 

In the end, we should not think of citation analysis as "cheating" but an important part of Information Literacy.  How do we know the different between what is returned from an academic library search and a Google Scholar search, which doesn't do as well with citation analysis?  Tools like bibliometrics, scientometrics and citation analysis.
De Bellis, N. (2009). Bibliometrics and Citation Analysis : From the Science Citation Index to Cybermetrics. Scarecrow Press. 
Larivière, V. (2012). The Decade of Metrics? Examining the Evolution of Metrics Within and Outside LIS. Bulletin Of The American Society For Information Science & Technology, 38(6), 12-17.
Patra, S., Bhattacharya, P., & Verma, N. (2006). Bibliometric Study of Literature on Bibliometrics. DESIDOC Bulletin Of Information Technology, 26(1), 27-32. 

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