Citations for evaluating scholarly publications

We post an article by Piero Attanasio published in the last issue of the review Informatica Umanistica (5, 2011):

Valutazione delle pubblicazioni ed effetti sul settore editoriale

The paper deals with questions concerning the evaluation of Italian scholarly publications and addresses some interesting issues about citations as a criterium for evaluating editorial products.

Abstract: This paper analyses some key issues in the Italian debate about the research assessment, starting from a publishing viewpoint. Using the publications in research assessment should consider the publishing context where such publications are produced. Any assessment exercise is referred to a pre-defined publishing model, such as that based on peer review. It is useful to make it explicit, in order to consider the effects on the publishing market in terms of incentives. A key element is in the impact measures, usually based on citations: when such measures are referred to the journal (such as the impact factor) or the publishing house, rather than to specific publications or authors (such as the h index), the effects on the market consist of the creation of barriers to entry and to competitive mobility. Furthermore, the creation of quantitative measure when there is a lack of data, like in humanities, may introduce very relevant biases. When considering the Italian publishing context, where publications have a role in supporting the cultural transfer to broader audiences that is not separated to the role within the scientific debate, measures that mainly focus on the second function tend to create incentives towards a change of the publishing paradigm.


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