Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Developments in Publication Metrics

Academic journal article Geopolitics, History and International Relations

Developments in Publication Metrics

Article excerpt


In the present paper, I focus on citation measures based on indexed journal papers, the use of quality and impact metrics, quantitative indicators of research quality and impact, and the pressure to publish articles in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals. This study is grounded in the considerable body of scholarship examining the actual and future role of citation analysis in research evaluation, the use of sophisticated citation-based indicators as quality markers, the relationship between quantitative metrics of research quality and impact, and citation counts as indicators of research "impact."

Keywords: citation analysis, research evaluation, publication metrics

1. Introduction

Over the past decade, there has been increasing evidence describing the use of citation counts for research performance evaluation, the complex mechanism of the citation process, and the dynamics of knowledge production. In this paper I am particularly interested in exploring the global dynamics of science, changes in the knowledge content, and the increasing political importance gained by citation analysis. The mainstay of the paper is formed by an analysis of the limits of citation analysis, the use of citation analysis in research evaluation, the underlying dimensions of the knowledge production process, and the increasing availability of ready-to-access documentation in electronic format.

2. The Relationship between Quantitative Metrics of Research Quality and Impact

Donovan uses quantitative indicators to evaluate the academic quality and extra-academic impact of publicly funded research: the impetus to create quantitative indicators that capture the extra-academic impact of research within the public realm is a recent development (quantitative indicators are as infused with human values as are qualitative approaches). Research evaluation should no longer aspire to the standardized use of blunt quantitative metrics, many "quality" metrics are underpinned by peer-review processes, and metrics will play a secondary role to qualitative processes. Publication counts are productivity measures that do not gauge research excellence. Donovan holds that the number of peer-reviewed publications produced should not be taken as an indicator of research quality (indicators of research quality are science-friendly). Undetected qualitative social science literature may be viewed as a lower order of knowledge. "Science indicators are imbued with human values masquerading as neutral markers of what science should aspire to be and do, and hence what constitutes scientific excellence in the public arena."1 Donovan insists that quantitative and qualitative approaches to research evaluation act as filters that connect the aims of science policy with the perceived value of research outcomes2

Walbot claims that the majority of scientific progress comes from incremental insights in which the context is provided by the struggle to resolve a number of outstanding questions in a field (maintaining skepticism about current interpretations is essential for progress). "Few of us will ever write a classic paper [. . .] or provide a completely surprising new insight or a significant new technique. The papers that represent great leaps forward are few in number. And we all work to avoid submitting manuscripts with fatal flaws."3

Miller et al. shed light on the perceptions of management faculty regarding the pressure to publish imperative, contributing "to a more comprehensive understanding of how pressure to publish affects management faculty in terms of their motivation to publish, choice of publication outlets, research productivity, publication stress, publication burnout, satisfaction related to the publication process, and time and effort devoted to teaching."4 Miller et al. state that there is particular pressure for management faculty to publish articles in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals (tenure-track faculty feel significantly more pressure than their tenured colleagues). …

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