On Metrics and Metaphysics

Stevan Harnad harnad at ECS.SOTON.AC.UK
Wed Oct 22 08:40:27 EDT 2008

On 22-Oct-08, at 7:33 AM, Loet Leydesdorff wrote:

> 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.

With open access, it is no longer univariate (i.e., not just citation  
counts) and
it is definitely no longer journal-centric (author and article  
metrics, not journal
JIFs, though journal JIFs can be among the metrics used). The point is  
metrics need to be plural, diverse, and validated and weighted by  
field and

To repeat: The "quick and dirty" example I gave was not meant to be  
but to show that solutions (many solutions) are possible in principle,  
that their main features are that they are (1) multivariate, (2) field  
or even
subfield-based, (3) require prior (joint) validation, field by field,  
against an
already validated or face-valid criterion (such as peer evaluation),  
and, most
  important, they are (4) conditional on the provision of a full Open  
database on which to base them -- a condition that does not yet exist,  
one for which we are now fighting (using the potential of multiple  
Open Access
metrics as an incentive).

> 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).

The matrix I have in mind is not a citation matrix, but a matrix  
consisting of a
rich and diverse set of metrics, including downloads, chronometrics
(growth/decay of citations, downloads), co-citation metrics, co- 
metrics, funding metrics, student metrics. patent metrics, link metrics,
hub/authority metrics, endogamy/exogamy metrics, years of publication,
total publications, tag metrics, comment metrics, semiometrics, and  
more --
all these harvested from the Open Access Research Web, once all articles
are OA, citation-linked, and download-metered.

The difference between this plurimetric world and the world of  
citations will be like the difference between night and day. But we  
are still in
the night...

Stevan Harnad

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