"Bibliometric Distortion": The Babblarazzi Are At It Again...

From: Stevan Harnad <harnad_at_ecs.soton.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 11:11:01 +0000

    Comment on: "Bibliometrics could distort research assessment"
    Guardian Education, Friday 9 November 2007

Yes, any system (including democracy, health care, welfare, taxation,
market economics, justice, education and the Internet) can be abused. But
abuses can be detected, exposed and punished, and this is especially
true in the case of scholarly/scientific research, where "peer review"
does not stop with publication, but continues for as long as research
findings are read and used. And it's truer still if it is all online and
openly accessible.

The researcher who thinks his research impact can be spuriously enhanced
by producing many small, "salami-sliced" publications instead of fewer
substantial ones will stand out against peers who publish fewer, more
substantial papers. Paper lengths and numbers are metrics too, hence
they too can be part of the metric equation. And if most or all peers do
salami-slicing, then it becomes a scale factor that can be factored out
(and the metric equation and its payoffs can be adjusted to discourage it).

Citations inflated by self-citations or co-author group citations can
also be detected and weighted accordingly. Robotically inflated download
metrics are also detectable, nameable and shameable. Plagiarism is
detectable too, when all full-text content is accessible online.

The important thing is to get all these publications as well as their
metrics out in the open for scrutiny by making them Open Access. Then
peer and public scrutiny -- plus the analytic power of the algorithms
and the Internet -- can collaborate to keep them honest.

    Harnad, S. (2007) Open Access Scientometrics and the UK Research
    Assessment Exercise. In Proceedings of 11th Annual Meeting of the
    International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics 11(1), pp.
    27-33, Madrid, Spain. Torres-Salinas, D. and Moed, H. F., Eds.

Stevan Harnad

If you have adopted or plan to adopt a policy of providing Open Access
to your own research article output, please describe your policy at:

    BOAI-1 ("Green"): Publish your article in a suitable toll-access journal
    BOAI-2 ("Gold"): Publish your article in an open-access journal if/when
    a suitable one exists.
    in BOTH cases self-archive a supplementary version of your article
    in your own institutional repository.
Received on Fri Nov 09 2007 - 11:30:14 GMT

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