The Operationalization of "Fields of Science" in Evaluative Bibliometrics; preprint

Loet Leydesdorff loet at LEYDESDORFF.NET
Wed Jul 30 02:16:44 EDT 2014

The Operationalization of  <> "Fields" as WoS
Subject Categories (WCs) in Evaluative Bibliometrics: The cases of "Library
and Information Science" and "Science & Technology Studies"

Loet Leydesdorff and Lutz Bornmann


Normalization of citation scores using reference sets based on
Web-of-Science Subject Categories (WCs) has become an established ("best")
practice in evaluative bibliometrics. For example, the Times Higher
Education World University Rankings are, among other things, based on this
operationalization. However, WCs were developed decades ago for the purpose
of information retrieval and evolved incrementally with the database; the
classification is machine-based and partially manually corrected. Using the
WC "information science & library science" and the WCs attributed to
journals in the field of "science and technology studies," we show that WCs
do not provide sufficient analytical clarity to carry bibliometric
normalization in evaluation practices because of "indexer effects." Can the
compliance with "best practices" be replaced with an ambition to develop
"best possible practices"? New research questions can then be envisaged.

** apologies for cross-postings



Loet Leydesdorff 

University of Amsterdam
Amsterdam School of Communications Research (ASCoR)

 <mailto:loet at> loet at ;
Honorary Professor,  <> SPRU, University of

Guest Professor  <> Zhejiang Univ., Hangzhou;
Visiting Professor,  <> ISTIC,

Visiting Professor,  <> Birkbeck, University of London;



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