Gaffriau NWB2018 poster.pdf (481.11 kB)

Counting methods in bibliometrics

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posted on 2018-12-04, 11:22 authored by Marianne Gauffriau
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Introduction: In many bibliometric studies is it difficult to see how publication and citations are counted, and very few studies justify the choice of counting method1,2. This study gives an overview of counting methods. The goal is to facilitate that bibliometric studies report the used counting method and importantly, motivate the choice.

Method: The overview of counting methods is based on two methodological frameworks: 1) five mathematical properties used to describe counting methods3, and 2) four groups of arguments for choosing a counting method1.

Selected results: The methodological frameworks can be used to describe and classify existing counting methods. A class of 14 counting methods4–13 (Figure 1) meets the mathematical properties that the credit for a publication is 1, and that the rank of an author in a byline determines her/his fraction of the credit. The argument for the 14 counting methods is that they measure the contribution or production of an author.

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The study also shows that the argument for the counting method in the Norwegian Publication Indicator14 differs from most other counting methods. Only one other counting method aims to provide a balanced measure for productivity across research disciplines15. Despite overlapping argumentation, the two counting methods differ in construction, as they do not share all mathematical properties.

Discussion: The two methodological frameworks facilitate the description of counting methods, and thus have potential to support improved transparency in bibliometric studies. Further research could investigate if counting methods can help us to learn more about what it is we are actually measuring.


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