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Interpretations and misinterpretations of scientometric data in the report of the Royal Society about the scientific landscape in 2011

Péter Jacsó (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 9 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to discuss some caveats about the findings of Part 1 of the Royal Society's report from the perspective of the choice and reliability of the source base, and the bibliometric and scientometric indicators.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper argues that the Royal Society's report gives too much emphasis to the growth rate of the publications of Chinese researchers when interpolating those data and forecasting that, within the decade and possibly as early as 2013, China will be ahead of even the USA in terms of the number of publications.

Findings

In an era when the “publish or perish” slogan is replaced by the “get cited or perish” mantra, the report barely discusses how much China is behind the world average and especially the above countries in terms of the most important scientometric indicators that take into account the productivity/quantity aspect and the citedness of publications as a proxy for quality.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates that there are much better measures for the assessment of research activity than the one‐dimensional productivity numbers, such as the h‐index or the uncitedness rate, and the citations/publication rate where China is far below and the USA is far above the world average scores, and uses some charts to paint a more realistic picture of the scientific landscape.

Keywords

Citation

Jacsó, P. (2011), "Interpretations and misinterpretations of scientometric data in the report of the Royal Society about the scientific landscape in 2011", Online Information Review, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 669-682. https://doi.org/10.1108/14684521111161990

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited