Archive for November 18, 2011

Google Citations

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 18, 2011 by telescoper

Just time for a quick post this morning to pass on the news that Google Citations is now openly available. I just had a quick look at my own bibliometric data and, as far as I can tell, it’s pretty accurate. As well as total citations, Google Scholar also produces an h-index and something called the i10-index (which is just the number of papers with more than 10 citations). It also gives the corresponding figures for the past 5 years as well as for the entire career of a given researcher.

I’ve bragged blogged already about my most popular paper citation-wise, which has 287 citations on Google Scholar, which doesn’t exactly make it a world-beater but I’m still quite please with its impact. What I find particularly interesting about that paper is its longevity. This paper was published in 1991, i.e. 20 years ago, but I  recently looked on the ADS system at its citation history and found the following:

Curiously, it’s getting more citations now than it did when it was first published. I’ve got quite a few “slow burners” like this, in fact, and many of the citations listed for me in the last 5 years actually stem from papers written much earlier. Unfortunately, although I think this steady rate of citation is some sort of indicator of something or other, this is exactly the wrong sort of paper for the Research Excellence Framework, as it is only papers that are published within the roughly 5-year REF window that are taken into account. It would be more useful for the REF panels if the “5-year” window listed citations only to those papers actually published within the last five years. I wonder how the panel will try to use this limited information in assessing the true quality of  a paper?

I should also say that although this paper is, by a large margin, the nearest I’ve got to the citation hit parade, I don’t think it’s by any means the best paper I’ve ever written.

Another weakness is that Google Scholar doesn’t give a normalized h-index (i.e. one based on citations shared out amongst the authors of multi-author papers).

Still, you can’t have everything. Now that this extremely useful tool is available (for free) to all scientists and other denizens of the interwebs, I re-iterate my point that the panels involved in the assessing research for the Research Excellence Framework should use it rather than the inferior commercial versions, which are much less accurate.