ABS: Hicks, The difficulty of achieving full coverage of international social science literature...

Gretchen Whitney gwhitney at UTKUX.UTCC.UTK.EDU
Wed Oct 20 20:12:10 EDT 1999

Diana Hicks : dhicks at chiresearch.com

TITLE   :       The difficulty of achieving full coverage of international
social science literature and the bibliometric consequences
JOURNAL:        SCIENTOMETRICS 44: (2) 193-215 FEB 1999

 Document type: Article    Language: English    Cited References: 35
Times Cited: 0

Abstract: This review of social science bibliometric literature seeks to
establish characteristics of the social science literature and to
understand their consequences for the coverage of literature databases and
for interpretation of bibliometric social science indicators based on such
databases. The paper reviews what we know about social science publishing
and database coverage of it. It examines the main reasons why social
science bibliometrics are problematic, namely: the centrality of books in
social science literature and their high citation rate; and the national
orientation of social science literatures. The paper then looks at reasons
why social science bibliometrics holds increasing promise, namely:
increasing internationalization; and good coverage of scholarly journals.

KeyWords Plus:

Hicks D, CHI Res Inc, 10 White Horse Pike, Haddon Hts, NJ 08035 USA.
CHI Res Inc, Haddon Hts, NJ 08035 USA.


IDS Number:


Copyright Institute for Scientific Information, 1999
Please visit their website at www.isinet.com

        Introduction as it appeared in the paper

        "Compared to natural science research, social science research is
characterized by more competing paradigms and a national orientation.
Because the research differs, the natural and social science literatures are
structured differently, and this has bibliometric consequences.  In the more
consensual and international natural science literature, a core of
important, international, mostly English-language journals has been
identified and fully indexed by ISI in Philadelphia into the Science
Citation Index (SCI).  The bibliometric community has adopted the SCI as its
de facto standard source and provided a solid justification for this choice
with extensive background research (see for example, Narin, 1976).  However,
the more fragmented and polyglot literature of the social sciences is more
difficult to cover in a single database.

        Nevertheless, the bibliometric community must choose one database to
use for mainline work, and no database even comes close to the ISI's Social
Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) in this competition.  The SSCI's virtues for
bibliometric work include: full indexing of author addresses, full indexing
of a known set of journals,* broad subject coverage, indexing of citations
and international coverage (imperfect, yet unrivalled in the database
world).  But the characteristics of the social science literature mean that
the SSCI's coverage is less comprehensive than the SCI's which creates
problems for bibliometricians, holding back the development of social
science indicators.  Background research has been taking place nevertheless.
In the last decade, a number of researchers have compiled small, specialized
bibliographies and compared them with the SSCI."

        * The SSCI also includes partially indexed journals, but these can
be excluded from bibliometric work, so partial indexing is a technicality
not discussed here.

Eugene Garfield, Ph.D.
Chairman Emeritus, ISI, 3501 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Publisher, THE SCIENTIST, 3600 Market St,
Philadelphia, PA 19104 (www.the-scientist.com)
Tel: 215-243-2205 // Fax: 215-387-1266
email:  garfield at codex.cis.upenn.edu
The Scientist: http://www.the-scientist.com
Home Page: http://garfield.library.upenn.edu


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