|Effect of heavily-cited monograph|
This implication is not without controversy. Metrics such as citation analysis raise the hackles of some researchers, especially in the humanities and social sciences, as shown in a lively exchange of comments following this article from Times Higher Education: "Monographs finally join citations database." On October 13/14, 2011, a Mr Flannigan let it be known that:
"The field of citation counting isn't a 'field' in any intellectual sense. It's a shortcut; an attempt to evade engagement with intellectual content and reduce everything to the logic of a spreadsheet."
"I don't doubt that some disciplines might benefit from citation counting. But I'm sick of scientists imposing their methods onto non-cognate disciplines and demanding that everyone else fall into line."Several recent articles further explore book and even chapter-level impact using sources other than BCI. "Assessing the citation impact of books: the role of Google Books, Google Scholar, and Scopus", published in November 2011, examines whether these databases can provide "alternative sources of citation evidence", and specifically looks at references to and from books. Planned data mining of the Hathi Trust corpus may open up some new avenues. A 2006 account of a pilot project for the Australian Council for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences tests the extension of citation analysis to books in history and political science:
|Source:Linda Butler, Council for the Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences|
We'll follow up on these and other recent works on "bibliometrics" in a subsequent post. (Mark your calendars for that!) For now, let's assume that book impact factors are worth some consideration in decisions about storage, withdrawal, and retention.
As monographs are considered for deselection, there is often a desire to exempt titles that appear on "authoritative" lists or core lists, regardless of whether those titles have been used. Examples include titles listed in Resources for College Libraries or as CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles, or on discipline-specific accreditation lists. Clearly, titles listed in the Book Citation Index could fall into this category, and might be considered candidates for retention irrespective of other considerations, even as the debate about citation analysis continues.
There is one very practical problem, however. Book Citation Index, as currently constituted, is limited to books with copyright dates in the current year plus 5 previous years in the Sciences, and current year plus 7 previous years in Social Sciences and Humanities. As this is written in early 2012, then, coverage includes:
- Sciences: books published in 2007 or later
- Social Sciences & Humanities: books published in 2005 or later
As the list of titles grows over time, it will become more relevant. But the role of book impact factor in deselection will emerge only as titles published in 2005 and later begin to appear on withdrawal candidate lists. The utility of the impact factor will grow incrementally; under the Book Citation Index model, 10,000 additional titles will be available for analysis each year. In five or ten years, this may be an important data point. But not quite yet. In fact, it may not be necessary at all, since presumably highly-cited books would tend to receive more use. And in deselection decisions, use trumps most other considerations.