Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Critical Note on the Abuse of Bibliometric Data

This post is heavily based on an email message I received from Catuscia Palamidessi.

I have recently been informed by Catuscia Palamidessi that the editorial board of the journal Mathematical Structures in Computer Science has put together a critical note on the (ab)use of bibliometric data, which will appear in the issue 19.1 of that journal. The note has been written by the editor in chief, Giuseppe Longo, and subscribed by all the members of the editorial board of that journal.

The note expresses the worries of the scientists in the board about
  • the way the evaluation of research activity is evolving in many countries,
  • the general trend to use criteria purely based on numbers and citation indexes in judging the quality of researchers and
  • the fact that the management of the data used in the numerical evaluations is entrusted to private agencies, whose methodologies and software might be rather dubious or cannot be subjected to scrutiny by the research community.
Did you know that

“The first journal according to ISI (...) is the 195th according to CiteSeer; the 2nd according to ISI does not appear in CiteSeer; the 6th for ISI is 958th for CiteSeer... Conversely, the 1st for CiteSeer (...) is 26th for ISI; the 4th for CiteSeer (...) is 122nd for ISI”
(See this document, in French.) I did not, and the fluctuation in the data is worrying, to say the least.

What is the situation regarding the use of citation indexes and impact factors in your country?

I hope that the readers of this blog will find the note interesting. It certainly gave me some food for thought. Feel free to distribute it as widely as you see fit.


Anonymous said...

I'm really happy to see that something is moving against the creazy equation numbers equal to quality! I try to contribute with a couple of papers I recently read:

"Research evaluation for computer science An Informatics Europe report"
prepared by Bertrand Meyer

and "Stop the numbers game" by David Lorge Parnas

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