Monday, May 08, 2006

Citation Analysis

Today's issue of Inside Higher Ed includes an article called "The Tyranny of Citations," which discusses the misuse of citation analysis. Citation analysis, which relies mainly on the work of Eugene Garfield's Institute for Scientific Information, was "invented mainly to understand how scientific discoveries and innovations are communicated and how research functions." It was not "seen as a tool for the evaluation of individual scientists or entire universities or academic systems." Today, citation analysis is used by hiring and promotion committees as a part of the evaluation process. The author feels that this phenomenon causes significant distortions as it puts individuals who do not write in English at a disadvantage and forces individuals to publish in journals that are within the citation system. The author is talking mostly about publishing within the sciences, but I know I've seen citation analysis used to judge faculty candidates within law schools. This articles increases my misgivings about this practice.

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