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Are publication databases suitable for studying the publishing practices of a multidisciplinary research field at subdisciplinary level? Case pharmacy

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posted on 2017-11-27, 14:01 authored by Terhi Sandgren
Pharmacy is a multidisciplinary research field which combines natural sciences, health sciences and social sciences to study drugs and pharmaceutical preparations. There are several subdisciplines within pharmacy, e.g. biopharmaceutics, pharmacology, pharmaceutical biology, pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmaceutical technology, industrial pharmacy and social pharmacy.
My PhD project focuses on publishing practices in different subdisciplines within pharmacy. There is lack of research about publishing behavior at the subdisciplinary level. However, it might be vital for example in research evaluation to recognize that there can be different publishing practices also within the disciplines. The central research question is: are there differences in publication practices between the subdisciplines, and if so, what kind of differences in terms of quantity indicators (e.g. number and type of publications) and structural indicators (e.g. publication and citation patterns) are there? The aim of the study is also to test and reflect the suitability of the theories of scientific cultures by Becher and Whitley (Becher 2001, Whitley 2000) at the subdiscipline level.
I will compare the power of different publication databases to offer research data for studying publishing practices between subdisciplines. The features, advantages and shortcomings of different databases are evaluated – how suitable are they for answering the research questions. What kind of technical, methodological, legal and ethical questions are there when selecting a certain database or databases? The databases included in the evaluation are international databases Scopus and Web of Science, Nordic national publication databases Juuli, Cristin, SwePub and Danish National Research Database and selected organizational databases from Nordic institutes and universities.


Becher, T., Trowler, P. (2001). Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual inquiry and the cultures of disciplines (2nd ed.). Buckingham: The Society for Research Into Higher Education & Open University Press.