24 may 2018

Publications and impact of the fields of management, economics, and sociology in Spain and France: Google scholar versus Scopus

Gantman, E.R., Dabós, M.P. 
Research output and impact of the fields of management, economics, and sociology in spain and france: An analysis using google scholar and scopus. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology. In press 

The goal of this article is therefore to explore the usefulness of Google Scholar for the study of the social sciences in non‐Anglophone countries, particularly analyzing the research output and impact by language.  In this regard, the research questions that we will address are the following: 

  • What is the distribution of document types obtained from searching in Google Scholar? 
  • Does the impact in terms of citations received in Google Scholar differ across different types of scientific documents? 
  • How extended is the use of English in the social sciences in non‐Anglophone countries? 
  • Does this use differ according to type of document? 
  • Do scientific documents written in English have greater impact than those written in the vernacular language? 
  • How do the results obtained from GS compare with those from Scopus?


We address these issues with case studies of two non‐Anglophone countries, Spain and France, in three scientific fields, economics, management and sociology.
The total number of researchers selected for the study was 1,500 (each discipline has 250 individuals by country). We then collected the scientific output of the selected researchers from Google Scholar using the Publish or Perish 4.0 program.
The research output of the individual authors was assigned to one of the three disciplines according to their academic department of affiliation or to the main disciplinary topic of their research laboratory.
For each document from the researchers’ production supplied by the Publish or Perish software, we collected the following information:
1. Document type, which we classified into article, book, book chapter, PhD thesis, book review, congress presentation, or other (gray literature, working papers, etc.).
2. Publication year.
3. Publication language. In the case of Spain, we distinguished between Spanish or Castilian (the country's main language), dialect (category that includes the languages of some autonomous communities like Catalonia and the Basque country), English, and “others” as residual category. In the case of France, we distinguished between French, English, and “others” as residual category.
4. Number of citations received.
We also searched the production of the 1,500 researchers in Scopus, collecting similar data for each document entry.


The results suggest that, because of a documentary coverage in many languages that is greater than traditional bibliographic databases, GS is a very useful tool for examining the social sciences in non‐Anglophone countries. Compared with Scopus, Google Scholar finds more than 5 documents per document found in Scopus; but these differences in coverage vary by discipline.

Google Scholar dataset shows that the most utilized form for communication of scientific research is the article in the three disciplines and both countries, although books and book chapters also have a relevant share of total output. In addition, our findings show the importance of the vernacular languages. However, in the French case, the use of English appears to be very extended in economics. Moreover, we have also found that Scopus coverage of French documents in sociology is high (72% of total documents), which counters the existence of an English‐bias of this database in this particular case.

The level of internationalization of research output in the disciplines considered appears as variable, with sociology as the one most focused on the vernacular language of each country. This confirms the importance of local sociologies and, consequently, the possible fragmentation of this discipline in different local traditions. In contrast, economics is the most internationalized discipline.

Regarding the impact received by articles, books, and book chapters, there is a predominance of books in terms of received citations for the three disciplines and both countries in Google Scholar. Finally, and except for the case of articles in French sociology and for books in France, our results show that publishing in English has a great impact in the disciplines studied. This suggests that, in certain social sciences as well as in particular forms of diffusion of academic production, scholars may grant more attention to sources written in their country's vernacular language. Further research is needed in order to understand why this occurs and why it happens in certain countries and not in others..