Scimago rankings 2011 released

Today Félix de Moya Anegón announced on twitter  that the Scimago Institutional rankings (SIR) for 2011 were released. These rankings are not very well known or widely used. Yesterday during a ranking masterclass from the Dutch Association for Institutional Research the SIR was not even mentioned. Undeservedly so. Scimago lists just over 3000 institutions worldwide. It is therefore one of the most comprehensive institutional ranking. If not the most. It is also a very clear ranking they only measure publication output and impact. It thus ranks only research performance of the institutions and therefore very similar to the Leiden ranking.

What I like about Scimago, is their innovative indicators, they come up with each year. Last year they introduced the %Q1 parameter. Which is the ratio of publications that an institution publishes in the most influential scholarly journals of the world. Journals considered for this indicator are those ranked in  the first quartile (25%) in their categories as ordered by SCImago Journal Rank SJR indicator. This year they introduced the Excellence Rate. The Excellence Rate indicates which percentage of an institution’s scientific output is included into the set formed by the 10% of the most cited papers in their respective scientific fields. It is a measure of high quality output of research institutions. Very similar indicators, the excellence indicator is just a tougher version of the %Q1.

The other new indicator is the specialization index. The Specialization Index indicates the extent of thematic concentration / dispersion of an institution’s scientific output. Values range between 0 to 1, indicating generalistic vs. specialized institutions respectively.

Their most important indicator to express research performance is their Normalized Impact (NI). Which is similar to the MNCS of the CWTS and RI as we calculate in Wageningen. The values, expressed in percentages, show the relationship of an institution’s average scientific impact and the world average, which is 1, –i.e. a score of 0.8 means the institution is cited 20% below average and 1.3 means the institution is cited 30% above average.

Last year the the Scimago team showed already that there is exist an exponential relationship between the ability an institution has to lead its scientific papers to better journals (%Q1) and the average impact achieved by its production in terms of Normalized Impact. It is a relationship I always show in classes on publications strategy (slides 15 and 16). When looking at the Dutch universities, I noted that the correlation between the new excellence indicator and normalized impact is even better than with the %Q1. So the pressure to publish in the absolute top journal per research field will even further increase if this become general knowledge.

What do we learn for the Dutch universities from the Scimago rankings. Rotterdam still maintains its top position for normalized impact, it scores also best for the %Q1 and Exc. Direct after Rotterdam you Leiden, UvA, VU, Utrecht and Radboud with equal impact. Utrecht has published the most articles during the period 2005-2009. Wageningen excels at international cooperation. And both Tilburg and Wageningen are the most specialized universities in the Netherlands.

Making these international rankings is quite a daunting task. For the Netherlands I noticed that the output of Nijmegen was distributed over Radboud University and Radboud University and Nijmegen Medical Centre, this was not done for the other university hospitals.  And for Wageningen the output was noted under Wageningen University and Research Centre and Plant Research International (which is part of Wageningen UR). But for researchers from Spain these are difficult nuances to resolve 100% perfectly.

My only real complaint with the ranking is the fact that they state it is not a league table, and they rank the institutions on publication output. It is so much more obvious to present the list ranked on NI. Since they only produce the ranking as a PDF file, it took me a couple of hours to translate it into an excel spreadsheet and rank the data any way I wish. With all the information at hand it is also possible design your own indicators, such as a power rank in analogy of the Leiden rankings.

The message to my researchers: aim for the best journals in you field. We still have scope for improvement. We are still not in the neighbourhood of the 30 to 40% Exc. Rate we see for Rockkefeller, Harvard and the like.

How Google could help the Open Access world a little

It was back in 2008 when Google Scholar launched the feature that identified free available versions of articles of the Web. In the early days these were indicated by green triangles in front of the reference. Nowdays free available copies are listed in the right hand column. Many of these versions are Open Access versions of articles properly submitted to preprint servers and subject or institutional repositories. Other free versions of the papers identified by Google Scholar are publishers versions of articles posted to personal websites, dropboxes and you name it. Whatever the rights are, if you need a copy of these papers, and don’t have access through your universities library subscriptions, this Google Scholar feature is a very useful tool. In scholarly search classes I always stress this very useful feature of Google Scholar to my students.

In our institution’s bibliography I would love to include a functionality to refer for each article to the so called document clusters in Google Scholar. Consider the following publication the link to the full text included in the record leads you to Science Direct. Whether you can access the paper on SD, depends on the subscriptions. Sometimes you can’t. Therefore it would be nice if we could include a link to the document cluster in Google Scholar. For this paper you get some 29 versions of the paper, but above all 6 of these are free versions of this paper posted on various websites. That’s really helpful.

In AgrisWeb, I learned from Johannes Keizer yesterday, that they link to Google trough a search for the title words. This works quite well, but it could be done better.

Consider the idea that Google Scholar had an API. If we could query that API on the basis of the DOI or PMID or ISSN in combination with volume, issue and pages or any other combination of standard bibliographic metadata. Yes, something like an openURL. And GoogleScholar would only return the correct Google Scholar ID for that article -that number 12564475196117890153 in the link- we could construct various links. Linking to the Google Scholar document cluster is one. Retrieving the Google Scholar citations is another.

Google doesn’t like metadata too much is an often heard argument. But the Google Books API works swell with ISBN numbers, OCLC numbers or LOC numbers. That API is talking metadata. Libraries are massive stores of metadata. So Anurag Acharya please. The pleas for a Google Scholar API are abound. Mostly for retrieval of citations, but for the OA movement those document clusters are really more important! Perhaps you could launch this Google Scholar API as a present for the Open Access week coming up in October?

National Library of the Netherlands discloses its Google Books Contract

After the successful disclosure of the agreement between the British Library and Google Books on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act, the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) also disclosed their agreement with Google Ireland today. Albeit the director of the KB tweeted a day ago that not all public information needed to be available on the Web, it was decided to publish the agreement on the Web since there were two WOB (a Dutch version of FOIA) procedures underway to get insight in the agreement.

Albeit I am not a lawyer, a few thins caught my eye. The agreement is very similar to the agreement between Google and the British Library. Bert Zeeman pondered the idea of standard Google contracts in this respect. This seems to go for the exception of the number of volumes in the public domain that will be digitized, 250,000 in the UK and 160,000 in the Netherlands (clause 2.1).

What struck me as interesting was the use of the libraries digital copies, clause 4.8 “the library may provide all or any portion of the library digital copy… to (a) academic institutions or research or public libraries, ….” But we are not able to “providing search or hosting services substantially similar to those provided by Google, including but not limited to those services substantially similar to Google book search”. I guess that leaves out the other academic libraries in the Netherlands to include these digital copies in their discovery tools. It is tempting, but I see problems on the horizon. We seem to be left with separate information silos whereas integration with the rest of the collection would be really interesting. It becomes more explicit in clause 4.9 where it is stated that “nothing in this agreement restricts the library from allowing Europeana to crawl the standard metadata of the digital copies provided to library by Google.” We would be more interested in the data rather than the metadata.

But then again, it is up to the lawyers to see what’s allowed and what’s not. But then again, again, after fifteen years all restrictions on the use or distribution terminate (clause 4.7), a bit long according to the open rights group. However, we have experience with building academic library collections, it takes ages. Those fifteen years are over in the wink of a young girl’s eye.