What is Bibliometrics and Scientometrics?

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Bibliometrics and scientometrics are two closely related approaches to measuring scientific publications and science in general, respectively.  In practice, much of the work that falls under this header involves various types of citation analysis, which looks at how scholars cite one another in publications.  This data can show quite a bit about networks of scholars and scholarly communication, links between scholars, and the development of areas of knowledge over time.

In the context of this toolkit, bibliometrics are also one of the key ways of measuring the impact of scholarly publications.  If an article is published in a journal with a high impact factor, which is determined in part by the number of citations to articles within a particular journal, this raises the publishing profile of the author.  The number of citations to that article over time are also a key measure of the productivity and the impact of that scholar.

These techniques are very well developed for traditional citations among journal articles, but are much less clear for new types of outputs, including data sets, websites, and digitised collections.  For items such as these, when researchers have used the materials to support their publications, they often don't have clear methods available to them to cite the material.  Many of the style guides do not have clear guidance for how to cite a database, for instance, or whether to cite a digitised resource in a way to identifies its digital location, or that cites the original item, whether or not the researcher actually consulted it.

We have found in multiple studies, for instance, that of the scholars who published results based on materials in digital collections collections, over one-third only cited the physical item represented in the digitised collection and made no reference to the digitised collection at all.  Nearly half cited the original article, but also included the URL, and less than one in five cited the online version only.  This means that relying on finding citations to one's digitised resource based on looking for URL's within journal citations is almost certainly going to yield an artificially low number because of the uses that don't cite it at all, and because of inconsistencies in how the URLs are cited.

Nevertheless, doing regular searches for citations to a collection's material is an important way to establish the impact it is having on the scholarly community.