The Evaluation of Research by Scientometrics Indicators

Nicolás Robinson‐Garcia (Library Studies Department, University of Granada, Granada, Spain)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




Robinson‐Garcia, N. (2011), "The Evaluation of Research by Scientometrics Indicators", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 9, pp. 840-841.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Professor Vinkler presents a fine attempt to contribute to set standards that “should be followed by all researchers, editors and editorial board members of journals devoted partly or fully to scientometrics or bibliometrics” (p. 7). A useful and recommendable contribution for those interested in understanding the basics on which research evaluation is based, paying special attention to the different types of indicators. Structured on a very personal and particular viewpoint, it compiles main indicators and principles, describing this discipline as one that “covers different areas and aspects of all sciences” (p. 4). This interdisciplinary nature explains the false assumption of certain groups of researchers who think that scientometrics needs no previous study or training and can be mastered through practice alone.

Péter Vinkler is a well‐reputed researcher in the field, winning the Derek John de Solla Price Medal in 2009, the most prestigious prize on scientometrics, for his valuable contribution to the development of indicators and methodologies for research assessment at different levels of aggregation. An individualist who has developed his own career practically single‐handedly, always single‐authoring his publications, Péter Vinkler directed the Scientific Publication Data bank of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences until 2009. He has a background in chemistry and has developed parallel research paths, one on structural investigation of organic compounds and the other on the development of bibliometric indicators for evaluative purposes.

This book is not the first attempt to set the theoretical pillars of a discipline accused of being excessively dependent on techniques from other specialties and on lacking a paradigm or theories on which to support its results and conclusions. Key and essential manuals on scientometrics are Moed (2005), van Raan (1988) and Glänzel et al. (2004), which are hailed as standards in the field of scientometrics. However, Vinkler's monograph is more of a descriptive and non‐committal series of definitions of techniques, methods and indicators. With a failure to be comprehensive to all readers, it is highly recommended for those involved in the scientific editorials business, PhD students in library studies and academic librarians. Also the personal view of the field portrayed in the book means that indicators and phenomena are presented in misleading ways, e.g. the Garfield Factor (for Impact Factor) or the Invitation Paradox (for the Mathew Effect). All changes are reasoned and clarified but, nevertheless, are unnecessary.

Despite his particular views on the discipline and its portentous language, too technical for the purposes he aims for; it is nevertheless a significant book as it displays a variety of techniques for different purposes. For instance, the chapter on reference motivations and the deep analysis on the H‐Index and its variants is particularly interesting. Unlike the other manuals mentioned above, the techniques and methods described are not necessarily relevant from an applied point of view, but more for understanding the nature and development of scientific information and scientific communication.

All in all, this book is an interesting and needed contribution authored by one of the most prestigious researchers of scientometrics over the last decades, especially advisable for those who are beginning to make their way into this discipline, but who are not easily persuaded to apply techniques without fully understanding them. This is a monograph that can greatly benefit PhD students and academic librarians, in conjunction with other contributions made by other eminent researchers, to enable them to develop a critical view of scientometrics when applied to research evaluation.

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