Starting out in bibliometrics? Read this…

…and when I say, read this, I don’t mean this blog post, I mean, this: Yves Gingras’s “Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: uses and abuses” (2016, MIT Press). And here are my top 6 reasons why I heartily recommend this book to practitioners:-

Bibliometrics and research evaluation_Yves Gingras_v2
  1. It’s short. I know this shouldn’t be one’s primary consideration when selecting a book. But let’s be honest, busy practitioners aren’t short of something to do. Time to read is at a premium and if an author can get their ideas across in as succinct a way as possible, this is A Good Thing.
  2. It’s readable. A dusty academic treatise this is not. Indeed, Gingras goes as far as calling it a polemic (which it kind of is).  However it’s exactly this passion and gusto that makes it such a good read.
  3. It’s got some good charts. The author provides some really good figures showing how publication practice has developed over the years. For example, the average number of authors per paper over time, the growth of citations over time, and a network diagram showing the top paper-producing countries in the world.  Not only does this prove a good overview of the field of bibliometrics and how publication patterns work, it will be really useful when you come to deliver presentations to academics about bibliometrics.
  4. It’ll prepare you for academics’ objections. The book mainly expresses concern about the misuse of bibliometrics in research evaluation. The good thing about this is that it rehearses virtually all the arguments I’ve ever heard against the use of bibliometrics. So if it doesn’t put you off for life(!) you will at least be prepared for some of the objections that will come your way.
  5. It’s balanced. Despite being a self-confessed polemic, it does present evidence for what bibliometrics is good for (the science of science) – as well as what it’s not. And his rules of thumb for evaluating how sensible an indicator is (adequacy, sensitivity and homogeneity) are very useful.
  6. It’s affordable! It’s about £20 (cheaper if you buy the eBook -and then you have an e-version of all those charts for training purposes.)

In summary, this is a great first read for anyone new to bibliometrics, and a great resource to anyone established in the field. Check it out!



Review written by Elizabeth Gadd, a Research Policy Manager (Publications) at Loughborough University. She has a background in Libraries and Scholarly Communication research. She is the co-founder of the Lis-Bibliometrics Forum and is the ARMA Metrics Special Interest Group Champion.


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