Gaining Insights Through
Elaine M. Lasda Bergman
Presentation for NCAR/UCAR
December 21, 2015
Bibliometrics: Context and Background
Term coined by Pritchard (1969)
Why Bibliometric Analysis?
Factual evidence that scholarly output was useful/utilized by
others (with caveats)
Objective, not subjective (vs. surveys, reputation)
Popular methodology for LIS research
“Ingredients” in a Bibliometric Study
• Research question with a possible bibliometric solution
• underrepresented/emerging/interdisciplinary fields
• institutional metrics (professional associations, countries, universities, etc.)
• Body of research from which to draw citations
• groups of scholars, specific journal titles, countries, universities, etc.
• date range
• cited or citing references?
• “core collections” /Bradford’s Law
• subject scatter
• database indexing/overlap
• Insights gained
Article 1: Social Gerontology
(1)To what extent do social gerontology researchers rely on social science literature vs.
research from other disciplines? (i.e., WHAT SHOULD I BE BUYING FOR THESE SCHOLARS?!)
(2)What are the best databases to search for social gerontology research?
(3)To what degree do these findings demonstrate whether Social Gerontology is
“integrative” in nature, and to what extent does social gerontology have its own
“territory” [Winter, 1991]
(4) Is Social Gerontology a discipline in its own right?
• randomized sample of cited refs in 3 key social gerontology journals 2005-
• Scopus (found mistakes - cited references in Age and Ageing!)
• Metadata added:
• OCLC subject headings, Ulrich’s database indexing information
• subject scatter, database indexing, core titles in field
(1)Social gerontology researchers rely roughly upon half social science, half medical
literature in their research.
(2)The best databases for social gerontologists to search are broad multidisciplinary
(Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed) and not subject specific databases like Ageline or
Abstracts in Social Gerontology.
(3)Social gerontology is clearly integrative but there is clearly a small body of
periodicals that is unique in territorial scope to social gerontology.
(4)Is social gerontology its own distinct discipline? (maybe)
Article 2: Social Welfare
(1)Which is the “best” resource for finding citing references to Social Work literature?
Scopus, Web of Science, or Google Scholar?
(2)How do the three databases differ in terms of general patterns of coverage; for
example: database overlap, languages covered, document types covered, etc.
(3)When is each resource most (or least) appropriate?
• Citing references to all 2005 articles appearing in the top 5 social work
journals from a “reputation approach” article [Sellers, et al. , 2004]
• Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar
• Metadata added:
• document type, format, language
• overlap (and lack thereof) between WoS, GS and Scopus, patterns of citing
reference coverage as a whole and by journal, variation in document types,
(1)What constitutes “the best” depends on what is counted as a citing reference, and
what question is being asked of the data.
(2)Google Scholar did not return many more unique citations from peer reviewed
scholarly sources than were returned by proprietary databases.
(3)Other scholarly formats could be considered meaningful indications of research
productivity: conf proceedings, dissertations and theses, etc.
(4)For the most accurate measurement of impact, all three databases should be
OA vs Paywall: an Impact Anecdote
cited 1 time in Scopus
not indexed in WoS
cited 1 time in GS
174 postprint downloads
from UAlbany’s IR
Social Welfare article:
cited 5 times in Scopus
cited 5 times in WoS
cited 17 times in GS
4 postprint downloads from
So What? Who Cares?
• Bibliometrics continue to provide insights to researchers in LIS and other
disciplines [Harzing, 2015]
• Bibliometric methodologies are easier than ever to execute
• Dirty data is getting harder to find
• Expanded variety of impact metrics may lead to additional
questions/investigation instead of quick answers
• Understand. Educate. Interpret. Proceed with Caution.
Harzing, A.-W., & Alakangas, S. (2015). Google Scholar, Scopus and the Web of Science: a longitudinal and cross-disciplinary
comparison.Scientometrics, 1–18. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-015-1798-9
Lasda Bergman, E. M. (2011). Social Gerontology—Integrative and Territorial Aspects: A Citation Analysis of Subject Scatter and Database
Coverage. Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, 30(3), 154–175. http://doi.org/10.1080/01639269.2011.592803
Lasda Bergman, E. M. (2012). Finding Citations to Social Work Literature: The Relative Benefits of Using Web of Science, Scopus, or Google
Scholar. The Journal of Academic Librarianship,38(6), 370–379. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2012.08.002
Winter, M. F. (1991). Specialization and interdisciplinary growth in the social sciences. Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian, 10(2), 1–7.
Pritchard, A. (1969). Statistical bibliography or bibliometrics. Journal of Documentation, 25, 348-9.