The week in review – week 4

The week in review, a new attempt to get some life back into this weblog. It is inspired of course (for the Dutch readers) on TWIT The Week In Tweets by colleague @UBABert and the older monthly overviews which Deet’jes used to do on

The new Web of Science interface
Whilst I was in Kenya the previous week to give training for PhD students and staff at Kenyatta University and the University of Nairobi, Thomson Reuters released their new version of the Web of Science. So only this week I had a first go at it. We haven’t been connected to Google Scholar yet, still waiting to see that come through, but in general the new interface is an improvement over the old one. Albeit, searching for authors is still broken for those who haven’t claimed their ResearcherID. But apart from that, what I hadn’t noticed in the demo versions of the new interface is the new Open Access facet in Web of Science. I like it. But immediately the question arises how do they do it jumps to my mind. The is no information in the help files on this new possibility. So my first guess would be the DOAJ list of journals. Through a message on the Sigmetrics list a little more confusion was added, since various PLoS journals are included in their ‘Open Access Journal Title List’, but for PLoS ONE. Actual searches in Web of Science quickly illustrate that for almost any topic in the past view years PLoS ONE is the largest OA journal responsible for content within this Open Access facet. I guess this new facet in Web of Science will spark some more research in the near future. I see the practical approach of Web of Science as a first step in the right direction. The next challenge is of course to indicate the individual Open Access articles in hybrid journals. Followed by -and this will be a real challenge- green archived copies of Toll Access articles. The latter is badly needed since we can’t rely only on Google Scholar to do this for us.

Two interesting articles in the unfolding field of Altmetrics deserve mention. The groups of Judit Barr-Ilan and Mike Thelwall cooperated in “Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations? Research blogs as a potential source for alternative metrics” . They show that Research Blogging is a good post peer review blogging platform able to pick the better cited articles. However, the number of articles covered by the platform is really too small to be meaningful to become a widely used altmetric indicator.
The other article, at the moment still a working paper, was from CWTS (Costas et al. 2014). They combined Web of Science covered articles with the indicators and investigated many different Altmetric indicators such as as mentions on Facebook walls, Blogs, Twitter, Google+ and News outlets but not Mendeley. Twitter is by far the most abundant Altmetric source in this study, but blogs are in a better position to identify top publications. However the main problem remains the limited coverage by the various altmetrics tools. For 2012 24% of the publications had an altmetric mention, but already 26% of the publications had scored already a citations. Thus confirming the other study that coverage of the peer reviewed scholarly output is only covered on a limited scale by social media tools.

Scholarly Communication
As a follow up on my previous post on the five stars of transparent pre-publication peer review, a few articles on peer review came to my attention. The first was, yet another, excellent bibliography by Charles W. Bailey Jr. on transforming peer review. He did not cover blogposts, only peer reviewed journals. The contributions to this field are published in many different journals, so an overview like this still has its merits.
Through a tweet from @Mfenner

I was notified on a really interesting book ‘Opening Science‘. It is still lacking a chapter on changes in the peer review system, but it is really strong at indicating new trends in Scholarly Communication and Publishing. Worth further perusing. Rankings Although the ranking season has not started yet. The rankers are always keen of putting old wine in new bags. The Times Higher Education presented this week the 25 most international universities in the world. It is based the THE WUR, released last year, this time only focusing on the ‘international outlook indicator’only which accounts for 7.5% of their standard ranking. Of the Dutch universities Maastricht does well. Despite the fact that Wageningen university host students from more than 150 countries, we only ranked 45th on this indicator. More interesting was an article of Alter and Reback (2014) where they show that rankings actually influence the number of freshman applying for a college in the United States as well as the fact that quality of college life plays an important factor as well. So it makes sense for universities to invest in campus facilities and recreation possibilities such as sports grounds etc. Random notes A study on copy rights, database rights and IPR in Europe for Europeana by Guibault. Too much to read at once, and far too difficult to comprehend at once. But essential reading for repository managers.


Alter, M., and R. Reback. 2014. True for Your School? How Changing Reputations Alter Demand for Selective U.S. Colleges. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. (Free access)
Bailey Jr., C. W. 2014. Transforming Peer Review Bibliography. Available from
Binfield, P. 2014. Novel Scholarly Journal Concepts. In: Opening Science, edited by Sönke Bartling and Sascha Friesike, 155-163. Springer International Publishing. OA version:
Costas, R., Z. Zahedi, and P. Wouters. 2014. Do ‘altmetrics’ correlate with citations? Extensive comparison of altmetric indicators with citations from a multidisciplinary perspective. CWTS Working Paper Series Vol. CWTS-WP-2014-001. Leiden: CWTS. 30 pp.
Guibault, L., and A. Wiebe. 2013. Safe to be open : Study on the protection of research data and recommendation for access and usage. Göttingen: Universitätsverlag Göttingen 167 pp.
Shema, H., J. Bar-Ilan, and M. Thelwall. 2014. Do blog citations correlate with a higher number of future citations? Research blogs as a potential source for alternative metrics. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology: n/a-n/a. OA version:

Some observations during the bibliometrics session at the Österreichische Bibliothekartag

Albeit the program consistently talks about the Österreichische Bibliothekartag (singular) the whole library day spans actually 4 days. One would have expected at least the Österreichische Bibliothekartaggen (plural) but they insist in mentioning only one day. Of those four days, I was only present during part of the morning of the third day, so this is a very limited report on the Österreichische Bibliothekartag. Looking at their program, it is a very comprehensive and interesting program. Never thought that you could cover a complete session, 5 presentations, talking about cooking books (No pun intended). It only reflects that bibliometrics was only a small part of the program amongst many other subjects covered. I noticed a lot of presentations on e-book platforms, many digitization projects, plenty of mobile less of library 2.0 than you would expect (is the hype over?) and open access had also a very limited role. What struck me as interesting for conference organizers, is that many commercial presentation were programmed equally throughout the sessions. Just a sign of taking the sponsors seriously.

So far on the conference as a whole, of which I actually experienced too little. On to the bibliometrics sessions. The session was chaired by Juan Gorraiz, a bubbly Spaniard working already for years in Austria. Give him the opportunity and he will take the floor and would love to take all the time available and fill the slots for all presentations planned.

The first presentation was on a piece of research that should result in a masters thesis at some point, but some preliminary results were presented in this session by Christian Gumpenberger. The focus of the research was on the acceptance and familiarity of Austrian researchers with bibliometrics. The results were not really shocking, most researchers stated that they were familiar with impact factors, but for the moment there was no clue as to whether they were aware about a thing like a two year citation window. Or the difference between citable items and non-citable items leading to the inflation of impact factors for journals like Nature and Science. Christian sketched some sunny skies for bibliometrics in Austria, but in the subsequent discussion part this sunny view was criticized quite a bit. Notwithstanding I would like to have a look at this MS thesis when it becomes available.

The second presentation was from Italian origin by Nicola de Bellis. Nicola has written an interesting book on citation analysis in which he stresses the sociological, philosophical and historical aspects of bibliometric analyses. It is always interesting to hear a presentation like this, away from the fact finding number crunching approach which I normally have and dream a bit away on outlines of what in an ideal world should be done on a subject like this. Quite a lot, but some of it is beyond being practical. When you carry out bibliometric analyses in the library at some scale, like dealing with 18,000 papers that have collected 265,000 citations like we do in our library, you can only be practical. So there is an interesting conflict between his presentation (which will be on-line soon, I hope) and mine which followed Nicola his presentation.

I don’t want to cover all aspects of Nicolas his presentation. Go and read the book, which I am going to do as well. But at one point during his presentation I strongly disagreed with him. Where he stated that only the mediocre scientists have an interest in bibliometrics and the top scientists normally don’t have an interest in this topic. My experience it quite the contrary. In the first place it was one of Wageningen’s top scientist who urged the library to take a subscription on Web of Science back in 2001, and made it possible with a special contribution from his top institute. He knew he was a highly cited scientist, but somehow he needed Web of Science to confirm his reputation. Later on as well, apart from the discussion with scholars in the social sciences department, it has always been those top performing groups that invited me to give a presentation on this subject rather than the groups that were lagging behind in the bibliometric performance indicators. To me it has always appeared that those who are leading the pack are also interested in staying ahead of the rest and invite the library to explain the results obtained and enhance their performance in the future.

The second observation in Nicola his presentation where he was far beyond practical where he insisted on the point that for a publication all citations to this publication should be retrieved from the three general databases (Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar) in the first place supplemented with citations from at least one citation enriched subject specific database. Well that’s a lot of work for single publication in the first place, leading to deduplication errors if you’re not very careful. Secondly it should be well know that Google Scholar, albeit attractive because of tools like Harzing’s Publish-or-Perish, is not a reliable database for citation counts at his moment (Jacso 2008). Google Scholar still has serious problems with ordinary counting and depuplication and should therefore not be used for serious citation analyses. The third argument against the use of multiple databases goes a bit further into the theory of bibliometrics and relies on approaches described by Waltman et al. (2011) and Leydesdorff et al. (2011). The key point is that a number of citations in itself has no meaning. It should be related to the citations of related documents in the same field of science. You can do that by normalizing on the mean citation rate in the field (Waltman et al. 2011) or by the perhaps more sophisticated approach sketched by Leydesdorff et al. (2011) based on the citation distributions in the fied to which the paper belongs. The latter approach is very novel, and has not really been widely tested yet. Both these approaches rely on the availability of the all the citations to the publications in a certain field of science of a certain age and document type. This can be expected that you have the availability of the means or citation distribution when you work with a specific database (for WoS there is plenty experience, with Scopus it is coming with SciVal Strata but for Google Scholar it doesn’t exist yet), but is beyond reality when you derive citation data from three or four databases at the same time.

But apart from these critical points I just made, I liked the presentation by De Bellis very much. For those interested in similar views on the citation practice I really recommend to read MacRoberts & MacRoberts (1996) as well.

The session closed with my presentation, which is enclosed here

Bibliometric analysis tools on top of the university’s bibliographic database, new roles and opportunities for library outreach

View more presentations from Wouter Gerritsma

After which the session ended with some discussion but soon all 30 or so participants hurried themselves to the coffee.


De Bellis, N. (2009). Bibliometrics and citation analysis : From the Science Citation Index to cybermetrics. ISBN 9780810867130, The Scarecrow Press, 450p. (download here)
Jacsó, P. (2008). The pros and cons of computing the h-index using Google Scholar. Online Information Review, 32 (3): 437-451
Leydesdorff, L., L. Bornmann, R. Mutz & T. Opthof (2011). Turning the tables on citation analysis one more time: Principles for comparing sets of documents. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology n/a-n/a
MacRoberts, M. H. & B. R. MacRoberts (1996). Problems of citation analysis. Scientometrics, 36(3): 435-444
Waltman, L., N. J. van Eck, T. N. van Leeuwen, M. S. Visser & A. F. J. van Raan (2011). Towards a new crown indicator: Some theoretical considerations. Journal of Informetrics, 5(1): 37-47.

Publishing for impact

It has been a while. Yes.

But here is a link to a presentation on points for a publication strategy I gave a little while back for some 300 PhD students at our university. The presentation was titled “Publishing for impact”

Publishing for impact

View more presentations from Wouter Gerritsma.

If you are interested in the actual presentation than you need to have a look at the registration of the whole symposium on writing a world class paper, I start somewhere around 2:51.  The other presentations that afternoon were interesting as well. See for those presentations the news item in our newsletter.

Related Towards a publication strategy

Towards a publication strategy

This afternoon we had the opportunity to inform some of our participants in the Graduate School of VLAG on the procedures in the preparation of the external peer review which will take place next year. The first part of our presentation was, on my part, quite straight forward explaining the details of the bibliometric analysis which is part of the self assessment in preparation of the external peer review.

The second part of our presentation,  presented by Marianne, was much more speculative. Perhaps more interesting. It dealt with the opportunities to enhance your publication impact. There are no hard guidelines on this subject whatsoever. We had to strech our imagination to the limit, but I think we found quite a balanced set of rules to set out for our audience.

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Citation analysis for research evaluation

Tomorrow, I am about to give a course on citation analysis for research evaluation. This powerpoint is the mainstay for the morning, but the course is open to any suggestions. It differs only in little details from the course given at the start of this year. The most exciting change came from Scimago, which I only discovered yesterday but has already been included in the exercises.