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May 16, 2011

RePEc rankings

Writing about web page

RePEc is a database for Economics papers and outputs, and citation analysis has been carried out, along with other measures, to provide rankings for items, series, authors, institutions and regions. This page lists these rankings and has links to information about how they were calculated.

It's a really great resource if you're looking to benchmark or compare one entity against another. RePEc's IDEAS offers a selection of different measures and rankings for each type of entity. Item rankings offered include one by simple citation count and others which are citation counts weighted by various factors, eg the impact factor of the citing publication (termed "recursive" by RePEc) or a discount for the age of the citation. A ranking by item downloads within RePEc is also included, and even by abstract viewings.

Series rankings include journals by impact factor, which is calculated based on RePEc's own data and is offered in varieties like those for items, including a weighted or recursive score based on the impact measures of the citing sources. I like the simple feature that it includes journals by their full title, which Web of Science's JCR impact factor listings do not: I am not so familiar with journal titles or their abbreviations that I find the JCR list easy to interpret!

Authors are only ranked if they are registered with RePEc and the top 10% appear on their summary table. Even if you're not in the top 10% it seems worthwhile registering because you can access data about your own publications. This must be so much more meaningful than looking up your own h-index on Web of Knowledge, in isolation. Even though you can look at the profiles of highly cited authors on Web of Knowledge, these won't all be people from within your own field and comparing rankings based on citation scores across different disciplines is not all that meaningful because citation practices vary across the disciplines.

RePEc seems to make it easy for authors to use bibliometrics and other measures in an intelligent and balanced manner and in that sense Economists seem to be very well provided for. I'm not a registered author so I can't see what goes into the updates or reports that authors can see, and I know that citations are scraped and parsed by software so I wonder how accurate the data is in the first place, but presumably as a registered author you can correct any errors.

All this is great for Economists and probably those in related disciplines, but I wonder what effect such specialisation of both data source and methodology is going to have on the use and impact of bibliometric measures? I'm sure others will have compared Web of Knowledge rankings with those of RePEc, so I'll have to investigate further!

November 02, 2010

Bibliometrics training from Thomson Reuters

I attended a training course held at Oxford University last Friday: it was a session delivered through Mimas, and provided by Thomson Reuters (TR) who publish citation data.

University rankings
The session began with reference to two University rankings, which I have blogged about in the past. The ARWU from ShanghaiRanking and the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Ranking, both of whom use Thomson Reuters' citation data. There are other University Rankings, of course: QS used to provide THE's ranking and now have their own World University Ranking, and there is the Webometrics Ranking Web of World Universities, who do look at citation data but they use TR's competitor Elsevier's data, available in their product Scopus. And there are other rankings too, which are not at all interested in citations... but the two mentioned on Friday were ARWU and THE.

ARWU's approach is interesting: they are interested in whether any researchers have published in two particular high profile and cross-disciplinary journal titles: "Nature" and "Science". Our trainer also mentioned that ARWU seem to use other citation data, possibly from TR's Essential Science Indicators product. THE's ranking methodology shows that about a third of their ranking score is due to citations data from TR. More reading on University rankings: "International ranking systems for universities and institutions: a critical appraisal" looks particularly interesting and it cites some other important looking articles on the topic, although all are too old to shed light on the THE's latest methodology, and the way in which THE have normalised for discipline seems to me to be particularly significant.

Our trainer did suggest that we can create our own normalisation by searching for articles in a given journal or from a given subject set, and in a particular year and then creating a report on Web of Science, which would tell us the expected citation rate for that set of articles. (This is the small link towards the top right hand side of the screen "Create citation report", which you can do for any set of results in Web of Science.) I think it's unlikely that the THE did this: they would probably have bought the raw data to manipulate, or at least have purchased it through InCites where you can get reports on expected citation rates.

Criticising the measurements
When using these kinds of citations metrics, or indeed any bibliometrics, you need to bear in mind the source of your data, and our presenter did show us some slides indicating that 40% of the journals in Web of Science carry the vast majority of all citations. TR do add new journal titles to their collection (and they drop some), and they evaluate about 2,500 new titles each year for suitability. They have records for all citations from the journals they index, i.e. including those to journals which they do not index. This means that they have data to indicate that the journals they have not indexed are in fact attracting lots of citations and therefore they ought to cover them...

But we're still only talking about journals and conference proceedings, in the main. TR have mentioned a couple of times recently that they are planning some kind of citations index for books to be launched next year, but they are playing their cards very close to their chests about their source of data for any such index!

We spoke about self-citations and whether these ought to be included in citation measuring sets. I would recommend self-citing from a "bibliometrics optimisation" perspective, although of course there are other reasons than citation measurements to self cite or not. 

A colleague from Warwick who was also at the session, Professor Robert Lindley who heads our Institution for Employment Research, also suggested that TR stopped referring to the measure of how many articles an author (or unit) has published as a measure of "Productivity". It is a volume of output, perhaps, but even then only of particular outputs so it would be best to label it as just what it is, the number of journal items published. TR also suggest an "Efficiency" rating which is the percentage of papers with citations as opposed to those without any, and an "Impact" rating of the average number of citations per paper (as used for Journal Impact Factors). Pitfall to avoid: this citation impact is not at all the same as impact in the context of the REF: REF impact is about effects outside the scholarly community, whilst TR's measurement of citations is an activity that clearly happens within the scholarly community.

Journal Impact Factors
The calculation of the Journal Impact Factor was explained, and the purpose of the 5 year Journal Impact Factor as well, which was useful for me to pick up on: I wondered why there were two measures! The original one was measured over two years, and a graph showing the average time for citations for an article to appear by discipline clearly showed that for some disciplines, the peak number of citations will happen after two years since publication. In other words, the measure of a journal's impact being over a two year period was advantaging journals from disciplines which are quickest to cite. These are primarily science, technology and medicine journals, so the 5 year Journal Impact Factor could be really useful for those involved cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research who are looking to target journals for their articles which will get them the best reach within the scholarly community as a whole. The 5 year JIF is a better measure if you are trying to compare journals from different disciplines... although of course, it can never take into account the relative value of a citation from each discipline, and indeed the fact that citations from some disciplines will happen in books or other kinds of publication which WoS doesn't (currently) index...

There was more about the H-index and some useful slides that I hope to get a link to in the near future.

July 08, 2010

Rankings of Universities: who uses whose citation data?

Writing about web page

I was just looking at Uni ranking methodologies after reading the cover article in today's THE.  THE will be using TR data and said they were going to normalise citation data by subject as part of their new methodology, which sounds interesting since I was asked at a departmental visit today, about how they can tell whether their "scores" are good or normal for their disicpline. I'm not sure how to look up the average H index or article citations numer for a particular discipline.

Shanghai's World ranking uses TR data as well, and Webometrics uses GScholar. QS who were the providers of THE's ranking have used Scopus data since 2007.

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