Monday, 3 December 2018

Google vs ISI

Following occasional posts in the past (here, here, here) about the functioning of different publication citation databases,  I thought I'd look at the latest state of play by comparing Google Scholar with ISI.  I didn't want to be overwhelmed with a unwieldy data set, so I restricted my analysis to set of papers with a modest citation profile (i.e. those co-authored by me).  The graph below shows my papers, indexed in order according to decreasing number of citations as judged by ISI:
Looking at the most cited papers, it doesn't look like there's a terribly strong correlation between the two databases, though the general trend across the whole slew of publications looks more reasonable with a few notable inconsistencies.  

As researchers and Universities get ready for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (sic), they will be forced to play a game in which citation databases will party inform the panels.  Two possible database options seem to disagree with each other quite radically.  I don't know if the Physics sub-panel will count citations.  The published draft guidelines say:

and that 
which is quite soon.  Still, despite (probably) making use of citation data in deciding what universities' research to fund, they add, for clarity:

update: I can't help playing around a bit with the data.  If I group the publications by journal, then it looks like PRC (Physical Review C) is measured most erratically between the two databases, with data from JPG (Journal of Physics G) also showing quite a few difference of opposite sign. In the plot, the thick black bars show the difference between the two databases for each paper.  Journal name abbreviations are shown where there are at least two papers in that journal.

update 2: I see from the REF website that ISI is to be the chosen database of REF2021

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