Impact Factor in Germany and other non-English countries

Garfield, Eugene Garfield at CODEX.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Mon Sep 11 10:27:03 EDT 2000

It seems that no matter what ISI does its coverage of countries for which
English is not the native language the word bias is used. Now comes the
latest report from our friends at Leiden University in which it is claimed
there is evidence of "serious language-bias in the use of citation analysis
for the evaluation of national science systems. It seems that ISI covers too
many German language publications. They report the "first evidence"  (sic!!)
of such bias. In other words, if you remove the German language papers from
the database you will increase the impact of Germany in the rankings.

This monumental discovery is reported in " First evidence of serious
language-bias in the use of citation analysis for the evaluation of national
science systems." Research Evaluation v.9(2),p.155-6 (Aug. 2000). This
provocative title is an implicit criticism of citation analysis, but in fact
it is simply of way of saying-- do citation analysis our way.

Regardless of the mischievous titling of the paper the main observation that
must be made with respect to the use of any comprehensive literature
database. The more inclusive it is of third world and non-English language
publications, and therefore presumably better for information retrieval
purposes, the lower will be the  overall impact for the countries involved.

They also suggest that there is a bias in computing the overall impact of US
and UK output because there are no non-English journals. However, they fail
to point out that because ISI serves the interests of librarians and
scientist users there is a substantial coverage of low impact English
language publications in all fields, many of which are in fact local as e.g.
the Texas Journal of Science. Eugene Garfield

Eugene Garfield, Ph.D.  E-mail: garfield at
 Telephone:  (215)243-2205 // Fax: (215)387-1266
 Web site:
President, American Society for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) -
Chairman Emeritus, ISI, 3501 Market St , Philadelphia, PA 19104-3389
Pres.,Ed.-in-Chief,  The Scientist, 3600 Market St , Philadelphia, PA

-----Original Message-----
From: Michel J. Menou [mailto:Michel.Menou at WANADOO.FR]
Sent: Sunday, September 10, 2000 10:31 AM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Impact Factor in Brazil

Since not everybody on the list might be concerned with the use of
citations and IF in research evaluation in countries and fields which do
not belong to the big league, I'd  rather refer to the work of the late
Mike Moravcsick and follow up efforts as reflected in the following

Moravcsik, M. J., (ed.).  "Strengthening the coverage of
Third World Science. The bibliographic indicators of the Third
World's contribution to science. Deliberations, conclusions and
initiatives of an ad-hoc international task force for assessing the
scientific output of the Third World. Eugene, OR., Institute of
Theoretical Science, University of Oregon, 1986.

Arvanitis, Rigas; Gaillard, Jacques, (eds.). Les indicateurs de science
pour les pays en developpement. Science indicators for developing
countries. Proceedings of the International conference on science
indicators for developing countries;  Paris, 15-19 October 1990. Paris,
ORSTOM Editions, 1992.

The leap on the issue of imperialism simply referred to the fact that when
a measure is built on the basis of the achievements, needs and choices of
the more powerful, applying it indiscriminately to all others, including
the less served, is an imposition.
This is why the production of local resources is so important. A good
example is SciELO (

At 15:38 09/09/00 -0400, Gene Garfield wrote:

>Here is the list of 17 journals from Brazil covered in the 1999 Journal
>Citation Reports. But I don't quite understand its relevance to the
>comments that follow. In general, the more local low impact  journals that
>are included in the calculation of impact, the lower will be the overall
>impact of that country's impact. snip
Sure. Thus Botswana will lag far behind Norway, even in Forestry. So what?
Do they play in the same league? Do they have the same individual
objectives and social role? If at least country rankings would be corrected
on the basis of the number of active scientists, with some coefficient for
their budgets.



PS By the way, it is fair to mention that ISI supported part of the
activities undertaken by the task force assembled by Mike Moravcsik. We
even had a party at Gene's place.
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