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  3. Pros and cons of bibliometrics

Pros and cons of bibliometrics

Bibliometrics can be useful but they are also contentious. Here we explore their pros and cons:

Pros

  • They are a quantitative way of measuring your research impact, so are seen as objective¬†
    • This also means research impact can be compared more readily than with peer review, which is seen as subjective
  • The procedure is transparent and results can be reproduced using the same method
  • They are inexpensive to produce and use
  • They take relatively little time to produce and use
  • They are scalable. You can look at bibliometrics on an individual, institutional, national or international level
  • Some familiarity with bibliometrics may help in relation to the next REF (Research Excellence Framework) as certain REF sub-panels made use of citation data in 2014 and it is expected similar data will be used again in future.

Cons

  • Metrics distinguish between what is cited and what is not cited, not what is necessarily of good quality
    • It is perfectly possible for articles to be cited a lot but for negative reasons
  • Metrics can be gamed i.e. exploited by researchers and journals to artificially boost their bibliometric scores
  • Some people feel bibliometrics skew research by encouraging people to write papers they think will be cited more, not what is valuable in research terms
  • Variations between areas of study need taking into account as publication frequency and citation cultures differ
    • It is not reasonable, for example, to compare articles from medicine and the arts

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