On Metrics and Metaphysics

Loet Leydesdorff loet at LEYDESDORFF.NET
Wed Oct 22 07:33:05 EDT 2008

Dear Stevan, 

It seems to me that the expectation of the citation frequency is among other
things a function of the local density of the citation network. A problem,
however, remains how to define the locale: a journal, a theme, a patent
class? "Quick and dirty" skips these problems, in my opinion. I agree that
it may be pragmatical and shows that a solution is possible in principle. 

> {Les Carr has since also made the point that metrics cannot be
> expected to be oracular: (LC: "Perhaps I might be permitted to throw
> the ball back in your court. How
> would *you* [or anyone] know that a paper in the (narrow but
> important) field has excited the interest of anyone worldwide? Or even
> excited the interest of "the right people"? Once you can answer that,
> to the satisfaction of the author and their community, then Stevan
> (for you challenged him in particular) might be able to devise a
> metric for measuring it. Or, indirectly, devise a test for whether a
> proposed battery of metrics will act as a reasonable proxy for the
> judgement of experts in the field."}

The problem seems to me in the inference from aggregated citing behavior to
an expectation of being cited. The analyst transposed the
citation-transaction matrix (Wouters, 1999). 
> Faut pas se faire plus royaliste que le roi...

Noblesse oblige!

> Stevan Harnad

Best, Loet

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