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Literary and Language Studies: Scholarly communication, publishing and visibility

Guide to information sources

Research visibility and impact: researchers

Visibility is about where you are publishing and who is citing your work. Various measures have been devised to assess visibility or impact and these are the subject of much debate. Visibility is heightened if one is publishing in international journals, and in the sciences.

Visibility in the humanities and social sciences and particularly where publishing is restricted to South African journals is more difficult to establish.

Where can you go to see your visibility / who is citing your work?

Web of Knowledge - not only provides traditional search functionality by author, title, keywords etc, but also allows citation searching - who has cited whom, where and how many times. You may check your H-index here. Few SA journals appear in this database. There are 3 collections in WOS: for sciences, social sciences and humanities and arts.

GoogleScholar - beware, citations are often high - thought to be due to problematic metadata.

Publish or perish (harvests Google Scholar data)  - been developed for the social sciences, humanities. The link takes you to a page that explains the site, provides the download and how to use tutorials.

Scopus - Social sciences not as well covered as the pure Sciences.

Visibility of journals is often measured by a journal's impact factor: the frequency of citations to articles published in a particular journal. The major tool is JCR: Journal Citation Reports published by Thomson Reuters. This site contains explanations of how journals are evaluated.

Click here for a Youtube that explains impact factors in terms of JCR and choosing a journal to publish.

One of the alternatives to the JCR is SNIP: Source Normalized Impact per Paper which takes into consideration the context of the citations ie the characteristics of the subject field. The developer of SNIP explains this metric in an article in the Journal of Informetrics

Measuring performance

There are various ways of measuring the impact and quantity of an individual's research performance. All have advantages and disadvantages. Some of the more common are listed below:

  • h-index - "a scientist has an index of h if h of his or her Np papers have at least h citations each and the other  (Np - h) papers have less than or equal to h citations each" (Hirsch, J.E. (2005). An index to quantify and individual's scientific output. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102 (46), 16569-16572)

            Web of Knowedge which UKZN subscribes to provides h index calculations.

             A helpful guide produced by The University Auckland Library will help you find your h-index on various platforms.

  • i10-index - indicates the number of academic publications and author has written that have at least 10 citations from other sources. Introduced by Google Scholar
  • g-index - a given set of articles ranked in decreasing order of the number such that the top g articles received [together] at least g 2citations.
  • e-index - is defined as the square root of the sum of the 'excess' citations in the papers that contributed to the h-index.  It aims to address the number of 'excess' citations above and beyond the h-index.

Research visibility and impact: institutions

Researchers and institutions need to make their research output visible in order to indicate their contribution to knowledge production, be accountable for funding and reap rewards in terms of personal and international recognition. Institutional repositories provide open access to primary research, most notably theses.

Whilst controversial,  different tools exist to rank institutions using various measures.

Academic ranking of world universities

Berlin principles on the ranking of higher education institutions 

QS world university rankings

Times Higher Education world rankings and formula

InCites - a citation-based evaluation tool that measures institutional strengths, research productivity etc.

A critique of the two most visible measures: THE and Shanghai

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