LINGUIST List 21.4351

Sun Oct 31 2010

Disc: Bibliometrics in NRC Rankings

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <>

        1.     Raul Aranovich , Bibliometrics in NRC Rankings

Message 1: Bibliometrics in NRC Rankings
Date: 29-Oct-2010
From: Raul Aranovich <>
Subject: Bibliometrics in NRC Rankings
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Recently, the National Research Council released its ranking of 52 doctoral programs in linguistics. Their rankings are partially based on bibliometric information about publications and citations, taken from the Web of Science database. I would like to ask if anyone has examined the publication and citation indexes for their departments closely, and if any issues have come up with respect to that.

The reason I am asking this is because while comparing the NRC bibliometrics to those of my own program, I found some gaps in one of the WoS databases. In WoS, linguistics journals can be found in two different citation indexes: the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) and the Arts and Humanities citation index (AHCI). However, when running citation searches for myself and some of my colleagues, different results were returned when the search was limited to the SSCI and when it was run over both indexes (in some cases, the same journal seems to have been indexed only partially in one of the databases, but fully in the other one).

My question is, then, which of the two citation indexes the NRC rankings seems to be based on. As a test case, I examined the publication indexes for the linguistics doctoral program at the University of Connecticut (it was a matter of convenience, since they are relatively small and their 'faculty allocation' according to the NRC tables was close to their actual faculty). What I found is that the reported publication index corresponds to the one they get on the SSCI only. If the results from the SSCI are added to those of the AHCI, however, their index is about three times higher (I have cleared this up with their department, having received their permission to disseminate these facts). I am wondering if any other departments have found similar discrepancies.

The NRC program comparisons are intended to improve the quality of graduate education in US universities. The data they research and summarize can be very useful as a tool to evaluate one's program, and to make changes accordingly. But for this to have a real impact it is essential to understand the nature of the information they collect. I hope your answers will help to clarify their bibliometrics.

Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics

Page Updated: 31-Oct-2010