June 22, 2010

THE league table for most cited nations

Writing about web page http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=412083

The league table is based on Thomson Reuters' data and shows the percentage of each country's journal article output that is cited. The story must be at least a bit mis-leading since TR by no means index every journal article published, and so the "total publications" for each country is highly likely to be incomplete.

The number of citations is also incomplete, so I suppose the same flaws apply to every country but they are probably likely to bias one nation over another in some way. I note also that England appears separately to Scotland and Wales, but that the UK overall figure would be lower than England's. So I'm not sure that the league table is particularly valuable or helpful.

TR's Web of Science coverage is growing: there are over 11,500 titles indexed now - http://community.thomsonreuters.com/t5/Citation-Impact-Center/Web-of-Science-Coverage-Expansion/ba-p/10663

Which means that we can't even look at one country's performance over time because the measure will have changed from one year to the next. If the total number of titles has grown, the total no. of publications for each country (or other entity) might also grow, so the per cent cited might be expected to decrease in the immediate term, for at least some countries. This is because the number of citations is unlikely to grow in step with the number of titles because it takes at least a year after publication before we might reasonably expect to see citations coming through.

TR recently (17 June) released their 2009 impact factors, announcing many first-time impact factors for the newly added titles.

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