8 jun. 2015

Honouring the pioneers of Bibliometrics & Scientometrics / Library & Information Science by creating their Google Scholar Citations Profiles

It is a pleasure for our group to present a portal from which you’ll be able to access the bibliographic profiles- created on Google Scholar Citations- of 39 scholars, now deceased, who played an outstanding role in the creation and consolidation of the fields of Library and Information Science (29 profiles) and Bibliometrics (10 profiles). These profiles are already accessible on Google Scholar. You may access them from:

http://www.classic-scholars-profiles.infoec3.es/lis





This initiative seeks to fulfill the following objectives:
  • To pay public tribute to those researchers and professionals who dedicated their life’s efforts to establish new scientific disciplines and fields of study. Rescuing their work from bibliographic oblivion and keeping their memory alive are the main motives behind this project.
  • To provide these authors with a digital bibliographic identity, in order to improve the visibility of their scientific production, and learn about the impact their work has had on the scholarly community, thanks to the citation counts Google Scholar provides.
  • To test the capabilities of Google Scholar Citations for identifying the bibliographic production of an author whose professional activities ceased many years ago (in some cases, more than two centuries), as well as to test its performance as regards the detection of citations to these works, making note of the potential technical issues the study of these cases may bring to light.

Recovering the memory of the researchers that came before us and keeping it alive is an act not only of intellectual gratitude, but also of justice. Scientific progress is based on cumulative knowledge, that is, the constant flow of ideas and knowledge among scientists. The act of reusing the findings, experiments and ideas developed by other scientists for new purposes, thus creating an infinite chain, is one of the principles at the base of the scientific enterprise. New knowledge can only spawn from previous knowledge. The science of a generation becomes tradition for the next one. In conclusion, science never starts from a clean slate.

With this initiative we mean to acknowledge our intellectual precursors, in keeping with the famous motto “Standing on the shoulder of giants” which, despite being wrongly attributed to Newton, is still fully valid. Very appropriately, this motto was also adopted by Google Scholar.

Although we are convinced that history and the test of time are the best judges of the relevance and quality of the discoveries and ideas transmitted through publications, we are also aware that when the time comes for a scientist to retire, and particularly when he or she passes away, the memory of his/her work may tend to disappear slowly as his/her contemporaries and disciples also disappear. To sum up, when an author’s ideas find no heirs who continue those lines of research, they will probably fade into obscurity.

Thanks to current information search and storage technologies, today it is possible to restore that bibliographic memory, now in digital form. However, it may be that the scientific production of these authors is scattered through the multiple nodes that constitute the Web. If this is the case, the bibliographic identity of an author will appear fragmented, and his/her visibility lessened for this reason.




Our intention is to make use of Google Scholar, the main academic search engine in existence, and specifically Google Scholar Citations, to locate all the bibliographic traces of those authors. As is well known by now, on the 20th of July, 2011, Google presented Google Scholar Citations (GSC), although only a limited number of people were able to test it at first. Also known by some people as Google Scholar Profiles, this tool was designed to enable scientific authors to build a bibliographic profile of all their publications (providing they are indexed on Google Scholar). The intention is to improve the visibility of both authors and publications. Additionally, the product also presents the number of times each document has been cited, and from that data it automatically generates various basic bibliometric indicators: total number of citations, the h-index, and the number of documents which have received at least 10 citations (i10-index). These three indicators are computed for citations received since the researcher published his/her first document, and also for the subset of citations which have been received in the last five complete and the current year.



The process of building profiles for deceased authors constitutes a bibliographic challenge of no small proportion, since it requires collecting bibliographic information which is usually scattered and very poorly normalized. If there is one tool that, as of today, allows us to perform an exhaustive bibliographic search of this kind, that tool is Google Scholar. As a starting point, and in order to facilitate this task, we consulted the following sources:
  • Wikipedia entries for each of the authors. Although not all of them had one, most of them had, and the information contained in them gave us a general and concise view of the authors’ personal and professional lives.

  • Worldcat Identities entries for each of the authors. This is an experimental product developed by OCLC which intends to gather in automated fashion all bibliographic information on WorldCat and other online resources about people and organizations.


By making use of the information found in those sources, and the various search options Google Scholar Citations offers (author, title, keywords), we proceeded to search the production of these authors on Google Scholar. Since this task is not only monotonous but also complicated because of the multiple variants that may exist on Google Scholar of a same document, it wouldn’t be surprising if some omissions or misattributions had crept in. In order to avoid this, a manual revision as well as a minimal normalization of each record has been carried out. But, as is well known, manual tasks of this kind are prone to errors, for which we apologize in advance.This Project is, of course, part of the research line the EC3 Research Group initiated to discover the inner depths of Google Scholar and test its suitability as a tool for research evaluation. In this case, the goal is to test the capabilities of Google Scholar Citations for identifying the bibliographic production of an author whose professional activities ceased many years ago (in some cases, more than two centuries), as well as to test its performance as regards the detection of citations to these works, making note of the potential technical issues the study of these cases may bring to light.
  
Thank you, and I hope you find it of interest.

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