Scientometrics is the field of study which concerns itself with measuring and analysing scientific literature. Scientometrics is a sub-field of bibliometrics. Major research issues include the measurement of the impact of research papers and academic journals, the understanding of scientific citations, and the use of such measurements in policy and management contexts. In practice there is a significant overlap between scientometrics and other scientific fields such as information systems, information science, science of science policy, sociology of science, and metascience. Critics have argued that over-reliance on scientometrics has created a system of perverse incentives, producing a publish or perish environment that leads to low quality research.
Modern scientometrics is mostly based on the work of Derek J. de Solla Price and Eugene Garfield. The latter created the Science Citation Index and founded the Institute for Scientific Information which is heavily used for scientometric analysis. A dedicated academic journal, Scientometrics, was established in 1978. The industrialization of science increased the quantity of publications and research outcomes and the rise of the computers allowed effective analysis of this data. While the sociology of science focused on the behavior of scientists, scientometrics focused on the analysis of publications. Accordingly, scientometrics is also referred to as the scientific and empirical study of science and its outcomes.
Later, around the turn of the century, evaluation and ranking of scientists and institutions came more into the spotlights. Based on bibliometric analysis of scientific publications and citations, the Academic Ranking of World Universities ("Shanghai ranking") was first published in 2004 by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Impact factors became an important tool to choose between different journals and the rankings such as the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE-ranking) became a leading indicator for the status of universities. The h-index became an important indicator of the productivity and impact of the work of a scientist. However, alternative author-level indicators has been proposed (see for example).
Around the same time, interest of governments in evaluating research for the purpose of assessing the impact of science funding increased. As the investments in scientific research were included as part of the U.S. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a major economic stimulus package, programs like STAR METRICS were set up to assess if the positive impact on the economy would actually occur.
Methods of research include qualitative, quantitative and computational approaches. The main foci of studies have been on institutional productivity comparisons, institutional research rankings, journal rankings establishing faculty productivity and tenure standards, assessing the influence of top scholarly articles, and developing profiles of top authors and institutions in terms of research performance
One significant finding in the field is a principle of cost escalation to the effect that achieving further findings at a given level of importance grow exponentially more costly in the expenditure of effort and resources. However, new algorithmic methods in search, machine learning and data mining are showing that is not the case for many information retrieval and extraction-based problems. Related fields are the history of science and technology, philosophy of science and sociology of scientific knowledge.
Journals in the field include Scientometrics, Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, and Journal of Informetrics. The International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics founded in 1993 is an association of professionals in the field.
The impact factor (IF) or journal impact factor (JIF) of an academic journal is a measure reflecting the yearly average number of citations to recent articles published in that journal. It is frequently used as a proxy for the relative importance of a journal within its field; journals with higher impact factors are often deemed to be more important than those with lower ones. The impact factor was devised by Eugene Garfield, the founder of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).
The Science Citation Index (SCI) is a citation index originally produced by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) and created by Eugene Garfield. It was officially launched in 1964. It is now owned by Clarivate Analytics (previously the Intellectual Property and Science business of Thomson Reuters). The larger version (Science Citation Index Expanded) covers more than 8,500 notable and significant journals, across 150 disciplines, from 1900 to the present. These are alternatively described as the world's leading journals of science and technology, because of a rigorous selection process.
An acknowledgement index (British English spelling) or acknowledgment index (American English spelling) is a method for indexing and analyzing acknowledgments in the scientific literature and, thus, quantifies the impact of acknowledgements. Typically, a scholarly article has a section in which the authors acknowledge entities such as funding, technical staff, colleagues, etc. that have contributed materials or knowledge or have influenced or inspired their work. Like a citation index, it measures influences on scientific work, but in a different sense; it measures institutional and economic influences as well as informal influences of individual people, ideas, and artifacts. Unlike the impact factor, it does not produce a single overall metric, but analyses the components separately. However, the total number of acknowledgements to an acknowledged entity can be measured and so can the number of citations to the papers in which the acknowledgement appears. The ratio of this total number of citations to the total number of papers in which the acknowledge entity appears can be construed as the impact of that acknowledged entity.