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  • Author or Editor: María Mancebón-Torrubia x
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Abstract  

Scientific production has been evaluated from very different perspectives, the best known of which are essentially based on the impact factors of the journals included in the Journal Citation Reports (JCR). This has been no impediment to the simultaneous issuing of warnings regarding the dangers of their indiscriminate use when making comparisons. This is because the biases incorporated in the elaboration of these impact factors produce significant distortions, which may invalidate the results obtained. Notable among such biases are those generated by the differences in the propensity to cite of the different areas, journals and/or authors, by variations in the period of materialisation of the impact and by the varying presence of knowledge areas in the sample of reviews contained in the JCR. While the traditional evaluation method consists of standardisation by subject categories, recent studies have criticised this approach and offered new possibilities for making inter-area comparisons. In view of such developments, the present study proposes a novel approach to the measurement of scientific activity, in an attempt to lessen the aforementioned biases. This approach consists of combining the employment of a new impact factor, calculated for each journal, with the grouping of the institutions under evaluation into homogeneous groups. An empirical application is undertaken to evaluate the scientific production of Spanish public universities in the year 2000. This application considers both the articles published in the multidisciplinary databases of the Web of Science (WoS) and the data concerning the journals contained in the Sciences and Social Sciences Editions of the Journal Citation Report (JCR). All this information is provided by the Institute of Scientific Information (ISI), via its Web of Knowledge (WoK).

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Abstract  

Measurement of research activity still remains a controversial question. The use of the impact factor from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is quite widespread nowadays to carry out evaluations of all kinds; however, the calculation formula employed by ISI in order to construct its impact factors biases the results in favour of knowledge fields which are better represented in the sample, cite more in average and whose citations are concentrated in the early years of the articles. In the present work, we put forward a theoretical proposal regarding how aggregated normalization should be carried out with these biases, which allows comparing scientific production between fields, institutions and/or authors in a neutral manner. The technical complexity of such work, together with data limitations, lead us to propose some adjustments on the impact factor proposed by ISI which — although they do not completely solve the problem — reduce it and allow glimpsing the path towards more neutral evaluations. The proposal is empirically applied to three analysis levels: single journals, knowledge fields and the set of journals from the Journal Citation Report.

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