Bibliometrics for the social sciences

We have explored the use of bibliometric indicators to assess research quality in the social sciences. This work began with a review of the strengths and weaknesses of bibliometric indicators by Professor Robert Tijssen and colleagues at the University of Leiden.

We then commissioned Dr Jonathan Adams and colleagues at Evidence Ltd to examine the extent to which the widely-used Thomson Scientific Database (commonly known as the ISI) covers the best UK social science outputs.

These reports, together with other analysis, led us to conclude that current citation data do not provide a sufficiently robust measure of quality in UK social science. We commissioned a review of alternatives to the Thomson Scientific Database. The study shows that there is potential to explore other avenues, although we have noted that this would require considerable investment and the problem of non-journal coverage would remain unsolved.