Book Reviews: by Robert E. Buntrock

Better late than never? For this issue of the CIB I review two books on bibliometrics, deferred from appearing in the wnter issue of the CIB. I discovered these books when researching my article on citations and bibliometrics in the March issue of J. Chem. Educ. (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00451), a special issue devoted to chemical information. Both are highly recommended for those interested in further study of the entire field of bibliometrics or of constituent portions.

Beyond Bibliometrics: Harnessing Multidimensional Indicators of Scholarly Impact, B. Cronin, C. R. Sugimoto, Eds., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, London, Eng., 2014, 468 p. +viii, ISBN 978-0-262-02679-6 softcover $37.

This multi-authored monograph is an excellent review and resource covering the rapid growth of the study of bibliometrics. Subject matter for this field has expanded from books in medieval times to journals and journal articles, references, citations, authors and institutions, patents, personnel management (performance reviews, hiring, firing, and promotion), and into the universe of the Internet including “gray literature”, less formal publications, social media, etc. Thirty authors have written twenty-one chapters grouped into categories including history, critiques, methods and tools, alternative metrics (altmetrics), and perspectives. All aspects of the field have been and continue to be controversial, and these controversies are well covered.

“Beyond bibliometrics” refers to discussion of even younger “descendants” of bibliometrics, viz. webometrics and scientometrics. The rapid growth of all of these fields has been facilitated by the parallel growth in the Web, social media, and the associated venues. However, increased quantity is not always better than the arguablyassociated quality. Since “metrics” means quantitative measurement, one must be sure that one is measuring the correct phenomena or making appropriate applications.

The first two chapters cover the history of scientific communication and bibliometrics. The second section covers, in four chapters, critiques, including ethics and criteria. Section three (seven chapters), covers methods and tools including finding, evaluation, and recommending articles. Alternative metrics, covered in the six chapters of section four, discusses altmetrics, Web impact, and readership. The final section (two chapters) covers perspectives of the publishing industry and determination of science policy. Every chapter concludes with references and the book concludes with a list of authors and brief biographies and an index for the entire volume.

Scholarly Metrics Under the Microscope: From Citation Analysis to Academic Auditing, B. Cronin, C. R. Sugimoto, Eds., ASIS&T/Information Today, Medford, NJ, 2015, p. 963 + xii, ISBN 987-1-57387-499-1 hardcover $149.50.

In preparing their previous book (reviewed above), the editors discovered a large gap in the literature covering many of the topics on bibliometrics. Bibliometrics has been critiqued, due to the fact that many have used it to “pick winners” in any number of subjects, a misuse forecast by Garfield in early years. This volume cannot be a “one-stop resource,” but the editors attempt to assemble in one volume much of the literature that critiques bibliometric and highlights the limitations in its use. The result is this tome, consisting of 55 reprinted articles, divided into six sections. Part 1 covers Concepts and Theories, Part 2, Validity Issues; Part 3, Data Sources; Part 4, Indicators; Part 5, Science Policy; and Part 6, Systemic Effects. In addition to the introduction to the entire volume (which also includes Eugene Garfield’s original 1955 article), the editors have written introductions to each section, as well as an overall epilogue. If they were not already in digital form, the 55 articles were digitized by OCR, edited in Word, and had all references converted to endnotes.

Is a collection of reprints worth $150? That is for each interested individual to decide, but the additional commentaries may make it so. Of course, finding and accumulating all of the included articles is a daunting and expensive task for any individual. An alternative to purchasing the book is using a library copy, but this collection, like the original references, will not always be available. The nearby Fogler Library, at the University of Maine, does not have a copy, nor does any other library in Maine. Fortunately, I was able to obtain a review copy, and I suggest that interested individuals request that their library obtain a copy.

Robert E. (Bob) Buntrock Buntrock Associates Orono, ME

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