Commentary by Gunnar Sivertsen, NIFU, Oslo
1. Recommendations about good practice for the use of bibliometrics on the level of
individuals are certainly needed in our field. The 20 points presented (which I agree with) are
an important step forward in a consensus process in which all of our international community
should take part. But I observe that there is more need for the recommendations outside our
community than within it: The main audience must be the researchers themselves and their
administrators in research organizations as well as funding organizations. In recent years,
especially after the introduction of the H-index, bibliometrics on the individual level has
become widespread and is even practiced by evaluation panels contrary to the guidelines
given by the organizations that employ and/or fund the researchers.
2. Although our community is not completely responsible for evaluation outcomes in all
contexts, I think we are responsible for recommendations on behalf of bibliometric expertise.
Addressing a larger audience, the recommendations should perhaps be fewer and more
general, but with the most used easy ranking measures (JIF and H-index) as illustrations of
good practice/malpractice. The need for normalizations by using reference standards should
be explained in an easily understandable way.
3. The recommendations should not only be about bibliometric indicators. They should be
contextualized by explaining evaluation purposes and procedures in general and
how bibliometrics are properly used in their context.
4. Since most researchers are used to domains where everybody can see and check each
others’ data, some words about the use of commercial data sources (and ready-made
commercial indicators at the individual level) in bibliometrics are needed. If we advise
normalizations for the proper use of indicators, we should also explain how the data needed
for these normalizations are or are not available.