Paper on scientometrics

Bornmann, Lutz lutz.bornmann at GV.MPG.DE
Thu Jul 25 14:13:05 EDT 2013

Thanks for your emails!

Dear Loet,

As I explain in the Letter, a method change should not be described as a revolution (e.g., the use of percentiles instead of mean-based indicators for normalization of impact). Method changes are part of normal science. Kuhn defines revolutions as taxonomic changes in his later publications. This leads to incommensurabilities between scientists. In the field of scientometrics, measuring scientific impact is no longer solely defined as analysing citations in papers. Today, a scientometrician has to explain which kind of impact is measured and how it is measured. I believe we will see a phase of normal science in scientometrics, where the reliable and valid methods are developed to measure the different kinds of societal impact. Measuring societal impact by using case studies is unsatisfying (as it is mostly done today).

Revolutions do not depend on a specific origin. It is not necessary that the revolution is rooted in science itself. For me, the program of the ISSI 2013 conference was a validation of my claim. There was one session on societal impact measurements and two sessions on altmetrics. I believe that altmetrics will play a significant role in measuring societal impact.



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Von: Godin, Benoît
Gesendet: ‎Donnerstag‎, ‎25‎. ‎Juli‎ ‎2013 ‎17‎:‎42
An: Bornmann, Lutz


Thanks for sharing this piece with us.

However, I am wondering if scientometrics is really in a revolutionary phase. I see very, very few changes. The revolution you points to is a wish (not necessarily for the worse, by the way), encouraged and supported by governments, and more often than not conducted in public and international agencies or by researchers as consultants to governments. On impacts, the scientometric literature has changed little, not yet.


Benoît Godin
INRS (Montreal, Canada)
tel.: 1 438 396 3242
courriel: benoit.godin at<mailto:benoit.godin at><mailto:benoit.godin at>
site web:<>

From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Loet Leydesdorff [loet at LEYDESDORFF.NET]
Sent: July 25, 2013 11:26 AM
Subject: Re: [SIGMETRICS] Paper on scientometrics

Dear Lutz:

Whereas you may be right that new questions are asked of scientometrics, it does not follow that scientometrics has changed fundamentally in its methods. That needs to be proven empirically. Perhaps, the changes are much more gradual (that is, as in normal science).


From: ASIS&T Special Interest Group on Metrics [mailto:SIGMETRICS at LISTSERV.UTK.EDU] On Behalf Of Bornmann, Lutz
Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 2:19 PM
Subject: [SIGMETRICS] Paper on scientometrics

Is there currently a scientific revolution in scientometrics?
The author of this letter to the editor would like to set forth the argument that scientometrics is currently in a phase in which a taxonomic change, and hence a revolution, is taking place. One of the key terms in scientometrics is scientific impact which nowadays is understood to mean not only the impact on science but the impact on every area of society.

Available at:


Dr. Dr. habil. Lutz Bornmann
Division for Science and Innovation Studies
Administrative Headquarters of the Max Planck Society
Hofgartenstr. 8
80539 Munich
Tel.: +49 89 2108 1265
Mobil: +49 170 9183667
Email: bornmann at<mailto:bornmann at>

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