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Bibliometrics

Bibliometrics is a set of quantitative methods used to analyse publications, most often scientific publications. Examples of areas to study with bibliometrical methods are:

  • Connections between research areas
  • Collaboration patterns
  • Scientific impact
  • Scientific production and productivity

It is more favourable for you to publish in respected journals. Academically this is important because respected journals have good reputation and more readers, which means that research is spread to a wider audience and your contribution to the scientific dialog reaches more researchers. This means that you influence which way the dialog develops.

You also create your own reputation by publishing in the respected journals. The more you publish in these journals the more recognized you become. When you apply for research funding or apply for promotion your publication list is reviewed and this makes it essential to publish in the central journals.

The respected scientific journals can be found both as print and online. The development in publishing, although slow in the academic world, is toward online publishing. Open access is working for to make publications freely and open accessible online. The reason for slow development is that the print journals are still considered as more legitimate way to publish.

Impact factor or Journal impact factor are two things you will often hear together with respected journals or journals with good reputation. Journal impact factor is a number which tries to describe the impact a journal or an article has. The way impact is calculated varies from resource to resource but basically impact means that citations to an article or journal during a couple of years are counted. Impact factor is often critiqued because in some academic fields texts that are a couple of years or some decades old can still be central in the field and citable but in other academic fields texts that were published last year are old and not citable anymore.

Bibliometrics and research funding

The interest in bibliometrics has increased lately; one of the reasons is the recent political ambition to establish resource allocation mechanisms that promotes strong research fields.

In 2008 the Swedish Government presented a government bill on what a new resource allocation model should look like (Ett lyft för forskning och innovation, prop. 2008/09:50). The bill was accepted at the end of January 2009 and the Swedish Research Council was then commissioned to provide data for calculating an indicator of scientific production and citation. This has been done by the Council and a proposal for a bibliometric indicator was presented in the report Bibliometrisk indikator som underlag för medelsfördelning (only in Swedish).

Application of bibliometric methods

Bibliometric methods can be very helpful during your research work, or when it is time for publication of the research results.Some examples on applications:

  • Get assistance in the selection of journal for publication of a manuscript in subject X.
  • Find out which journals/scientists that is most productive within topic Z.
  • Describe how research field Y is structured, and what other research fields it is related to.
  • Describe how scientists collaborate within and across subject boundaries.
  • Locate a subject area most cited journals/authors/publications.

When interpreting the results obtained in a bibliometric study, it is important that this is done in collaboration with persons who are familiar within the studied research area.

For more information – please contact Katharina Nordling.