Monday, 18 February 2013

REF, twitter and public writing

Research about research: Choice morsels

Only the lonely

While the REF explicitly discourages the use of impact factor when drawing up an index of research glory, many institutions implicitly, if incorrectly, take these into account. Criticism of ISI impact factors, eigen factors, H Factors and others are legion, myriad and well-documented, but a recent paper by the Editor of Organisation highlights another worrying if quirky flaw.

In the January 2013 issue, Craig Pritchard looked at the number of papers which had received NO citations in the literature.  9% (48) had not, in 20 years. One case of non citation was that of Peruvemba Jaya, a communications scholar from Ottowa. He had written about "the invisibility of third world scholarship".  But in Google Scholar, the paper appeared 17 times. Why? It transpires that the Thompson databases had created two records for the paper and had spelled his name differently in each.

Pritchard goes on, fairly devastatingly: "In our case Thomson’s database identified 48 un-cited Organization papers—about 10% of the total published. If we check these
48 with Google Scholar our list drops by 40 to just eight uncited papers (an 83% reduction)."


In other research, Gunter Eysenbach has found that releasing your study on Twitter, where it is retweeted, favourited and mentioned increases its chances of being cited.  This promulgation confirms research from other sources. For example,  famously, a mention of your NEJM paper in the New York Times led to a disproportionate number of citations of that paper in other journal articles.

Publication delay and impact factor

In Plos, Brazilian researchers have noted a peculiar link between publication delays and impact factor. In a review of 61 neuroscience journals, they found that: "Using a modified impact factor based on online rather than print publication dates, we demonstrate that online-to-print delays can artificially raise a journal’s impact factor"

G Neil Martin


2001's finest- The Psychologist writes

The Psychologist's 25th Anniversary issue has selected G Neil Martin's article as the highlight of 2001 in its 'Best of Year' selection published in January.  Here is the Annals of Improbable Research's take on it (Neil is an editorial board member) 
and here is the piece.

Wellcome Trust's Big Picture

The latest edition of the Wellcome Trust's magazine for older schoolchildren, Big Picture, is devoted to the brain and understanding how it is studied and works: "Inside the Brain". Despite being pitched at sixth formers, it is one of the most informative guides on this topic and suitable for anyone with an interest. It is free here.

G Neil Martin

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