Thomson Reuters adds citation maps to Web of Science

New citation map feature from Web of Science

A while ago Thomson Reuters heralded their new database Thomson Innovation. One of the strong points of their new platform are the visualization tools such as the citation maps. With these tools, users can quickly analyze patents cited as references by the focal-patent, as well as those that have since cited it. An article in R&D Magazine described the tool in more detail.

This evening I found out that these citation maps have been introduced in Web of Science as well. Still in beta. But it is a nice spill over from the new Thomson Innovation platform. It allows you to browse from article to article. It is indeed visually very attractive. I have to play around with it a little more before I will fully comprehend the real advantages.

Another database that has these citation maps a little longer already is Highwire, but those I have never used seriously. See what we can learn from the comparison in the near.

Just noticed that the feature was announced in the June 2008 update of the “What’s New?” items. What I noticed there as well that you finally can use your browser back buttons on Web of Science. WoW! That’s what is called innovation.

Another expansion of journal coverage by Thomson

It was only at the beginning of April that Thomson announced their increased coverage of journals in the social sciences. I should have read the press announcement much more carefully since it clearly states “begins expansion of Web of Science” in the title. A few days ago they added yet another substantial -700- set of journals. This is likely to include those 162 journals announced in April. We don’t know for sure.

Digging a little further on the Thomson Scientific Website I notice they still mention “from approximately 8,500 of the most prestigious, high impact research journals in the world“. I thought WoS already covered some 9000 journals for quite some time already, but that is based on oral communication in presentations by Thomson staff. On checking the Journal Master Lists from Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Sciences Citation Index and the Arts & Humanities Citation Index and looking at the journal changes over the past 12 months I only count 177 journal changes over all three database parts. These journal changes also include name changes, dropped journals et cetera. We are still left in the dark on which journals have been added.

Dear Thomson Reuters Scientific executives, we want to go out into the faculties of our universities, the departments and laboratories and meet with researchers and tell them this exciting news. However we want to inform our users completely and we need therefore comprehensive lists of the journals that have been added. Is that really too much asked?

So, James Testa finally found his 500 journals.

Hattip: de Bibliotheker

Thomson increases journal coverage in the social sciences

Thomson Scientific published a press release yesterday in which they announced a substantial increase of journals in the social sciences indexed in Web of Science.

Track back a little. In the November/December issue of the Searcher Magazine was an interview of Herther with Keith MacGregor and James Testa of Thomson Scientific. The interview closed with the following question:

If, by some chance, next year there were suddenly 500 new journals that met the criteria for acceptance in Web of Science, would you add 500 new journals to the databases?

Testa: Well, this is a hypothetical question, so the hypothetical answer would be yes. If these were journals that met our criteria, we would absolutely add these. I don’t see how we could say no. I’d be surprised to see that happen, but, yes we would certainly accept them.

In the interview Testa indicated that the normal pace of growth for Web of Science is in the order of 100-200 journals per year. The announced 162 regional social science journals which have been added to Web of Science are thus to be considered as part of those hypothetical journals. The newly identified collection contains journals that typically target a regional rather than international audience by approaching subjects from a local perspective or focusing on particular topics of regional interest. They include 49 titles from the Asia-Pacific region and 91 from the European Union.

What’s left on my wishlist is only a complete title list of those journals that have been added. Now we have to guess to the additions. in this respect Thomson behaves like the “Guide de Michelin” you have to figure it out for yourself which restaurants dropped a star or gained one.

Herther, N. K. (2007). Thomson Scientific and the citation indexes : an interview with Keith MacGregor and James Testa. Searcher 15(10): 8-17.

Interview with two Thomson executives on the citation indexes

When you work on a nearly daily basis with the products of Thomson ISI and have developed a love and hate relationship with the databases you sieve all information on these products you can find. It was therefore a welcome interview with Keith MacGregor, executive VP of Thomson’s academic and government strategic business unit, and James Testa, senior director, editorial development and publisher relations for Thomson that Nancy K. Herther published in the last issue of the Searcher (not free on-line).

The interview itself was rather too nice, the interviewer was perhaps too polite to raise really sensitive subjects. The parting thoughts listed by Herther at the end of the interview were the most interesting points of the whole article. A real pity that the two executives did not have a change to formulate their opinions on those points. In addition to the parting thoughts listed by Herther I would have loved to hear the opinion of these two gentleman on the stubborn ISI/Thomson Scientific policy not to change anything of the data collected in WoS. This results in all kind of inconsistencies in journal and author names when these are subject of study for a longer time period. I have the feeling that they try and correct some of the data in the software environment, but when you have to deal with the output as an analyst or collection development librarian, you end up with a load of data inconsistencies.

Only a few days ago I had to look into the citedness of T.B. van Wimersma Greidanus who published between 1969 and 1996. Impressive publication list, but really difficult to collect all those 300+ references from the cited ref search. For journal titles I have blogged already on this subject before and even before.

According to a few, Thomson is opening up a bit. However Herther wrote “I read a great deal of the published criticisms of citation data used for ranking individuals and institutions. I was therefore surprised at the absence of Thomson Scientific’s voice in many of these debates”. Which confirms my impression. But then again, perhaps times they are a-changin’.

Herther, N. K. (2007). Thomson Scientific and the citation indexes : an interview with Keith MacGregor and James Testa. Searcher 15(10): 8-17.

Consistent search interfaces, oh so difficult

One of my annoyances of searching for journals in Web of Science has always been that in standard search you have to fill in the full journal title but when you search for a journal in the cited ref search you have to use the abbreviated jounal title. A very inconvenient way of doing searches in the same database, albeit a different index. Explain this in your classes on searching databases. Another small grunt in this respect is that the title abbreviations between or within different ISI products is not the same either so you are always left guessing.

This afternoon I had to check since when the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management has been indexed in Web of Science. The answer was found quite quickly. The journal only started this year to be covered by WoS. So I had to look up some citation data using a cited ref search. Easier said than done.

Using the official journal abbreviation list on the cited ref search the journal appeared not be there. But it has been indexed on WoS since the beginning of this year already. Moving over to the new interface, assuming they would have updated matters there a lot more, brought me some more disappointment. The journal list in the new interface was not up to date either.

Guessing the abbreviation I arrived quickly at the following abbreviations being used within WoS for the same journal:


This list is certainly not exhaustive, but just illustrates my point of different abbreviations for the same journal (how do they ever calculate the right impact fact you might wonder?).

My idea is that when you have such a major overhaul of you web platform that you look at the search ergonomy as well. Full title search in the normal search and abbreviated title search in the cited ref search should have been a problem reported back to ISI headquarters by all marketeers and sales people on many different occasions. So this little annoyance should have been rectified in latest extensive product overhaul.

That journal abbreviation lists are not up to date with the latest additions of newly indexed periodicals is a sign of very sloppy maintenance of your databases. For an important database such as Web of Science I would have expected higher standards of accuracy.

It seems that the competition has not yet fully woken up this giant in database land. Please Thomson wake up!