A Citation Analysis of Sub-Saharan African Library and Information Science Journals Using Google Scholar

By Onyancha, Omwoyo Bosire | African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science, October 2009 | Go to article overview

A Citation Analysis of Sub-Saharan African Library and Information Science Journals Using Google Scholar


Onyancha, Omwoyo Bosire, African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science


Introduction

Journals play a vital role in the measurement of research output and/or impact because they are the most commonly used avenue for disseminating research findings. Significantly, journals provide information that is crucial for conducting research evaluation, namely: names of authors; authors' institutional affiliation; country affiliation of authors; year of publication and country of publication. Therefore, not only do journals provide a platform on which the research output and impact of individual authors, institutions or countries are measured (Ocholla and Ocholla, 2007), but they are also subjects of evaluation in and of themselves.

Citing several authors, Onyancha (2008) observes that there are as "many reasons for evaluating journals as there are different groups of people interested in information production, storage, dissemination and use." Interested parties include researchers, librarians, documentalists, electronic database publishers, funding agencies, and journal editors and publishers. Others are commercial publishers, information brokers, and university research councils. These varied interests have resulted in many papers being published about the performance of journals. Depending on the purpose of individual studies, descriptive and/or evaluative informetric analyses have been conducted to evaluate journals using one or more of the following measurement indicators: number of articles, average number of articles, impact factor, average number of citations, citation age (age-weighted citation rate), cited journal half-life, co-citedness, consumption factor, importance index, influence weight, popularity factor; and lately, the h--index has also been proposed as a measurement of journals' performance (see Alloro, Casilli, Taningher and Ugolini, 1998; Altmann and Gorman, 1998; Black, 1999; Adusumilli, Chan, Ben-Porat, Stiles and Fong, 2003; Miguel-Dasit, Aleixandre, Valderrama, Marti-Bonmati and Sanfeliu, 2005; Coats, 2005; Togia and Tsigilis, 2006; Tsay, 2006; Jones, 2007; Braun and Al in Costas and Bordons, 2008; Jamal, Smith and Watson, 2008; Onyancha, 2008).

To a large extent, the citation databases of Thomson Scientific (published formerly by ISI--Institute for Scientific Information), namely: the Science Citation Index (SCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and/or the Arts and Humanities Citation Index (A&HCI), have acted as the sole sources of data for the aforementioned and other related studies, especially the studies that made use of citations to evaluate scholarly journals. The Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database, also published by Thomson Scientific, provides citation and article counts which are used to determine how journals are used by different researchers. The database supports journal comparisons through its provision of each journal's impact factor, total number of recent articles (articles published in the last two years), total number of recent cites, immediacy index, and cited half-life.

Citation analyses of scholarly journals published in Africa as a whole, and sub-Saharan Africa in particular, have eluded research evaluators and decision makers for a long time, mainly because of the following reasons:

a) Citation analyses are commonly conducted using ISI's citation indexes, but most journals published in Africa are not indexed in these indexes. According to Onyancha (2008), ISI only indexed 28 African journals in 2006. Until 2007, ISI never covered any of the LIS journals published in sub-Saharan Africa. The African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science (AJLAIS) is the only African LIS-specific journal indexed in ISI, having only been included in 2007.

b) ISI citation indexes are inaccessible because of their high subscription fees. Most institutions in Africa cannot afford to purchase the citation indexes in CD-ROM format or by subscribing to the Web of Science, ISI's portal to the citation indexes. …

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