Welcome to the linguistic warp zone: Benchmarking scientific output in the social sciences and humanities

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The goal of this paper is to examine the impact of linguistic coverage of databases used by bibliometricians on the capacity to effectively benchmark the work of social scientists and humanities researchers in various countries. The paper firstly examines the strong link between bibliometrics and the ISI’s database and, subsequently, reviews the differences in the production and diffusion of knowledge in the SSH and NSE. This leads to an examination of the old debate on the coverage of ISI’s databases, more specifically in the case of SSH. The methods section explain how we have compared the coverage of ISI’s databases in the NSE and SSH to the Ulrich extensive database of journals. Our results show that there is a 20 to 25 % overrepresentation of English-language journals in ISI’s databases compared to the list of journals presented in Ulrich. This paper concludes that because of this bias, ISI’s databases cannot be used to benchmark the output of countries in the SSH.

This content has been updated on June 2nd, 2017 at 14 h 27 min.