By Ernesto Spinak
Google Scholar Metrics (GSM) is an open access bibliometric service that provides a worldwide ranking of scientific journals based on the h-index1 indicator calculated on the basis of citations compiled by the Google Scholar engine in the last 5 years, hence the name h-5 index. This index differs from Clarivate Analytics’ JCR/WoS and SCImago’s SJR/Scopus by the selection, coverage, and indexing policies of the scientific journals it includes.
The first version of GSM appeared in April 2012 (calculated between 2007 and 2011), and has being improved in successive versions until the current 2016 version (calculated between years 2011-2015), which eliminates many of the mistakes found and reported to the Google Scholar technical team. On the other hand, GSM offers interesting products that are not included in commercial alternatives such as JCR and SJR. As the book La revolución Google Scholar2, says
“…The journals on GSM are categorized into 12 main languages, from English to Portuguese. GSM identifies more journals, in more languages, from more countries than traditional products.”
The authors of the cited book estimate that for the fifth GSM version published in 2014, the index included more than 40,000 scientific journals, as well as a percentage of conferences and thematic repositories.
To be included in GSM it is not necessary to submit requests to SCImago or WoS selection committees (and possibly be disapproved), as the process is free and simple.
What does it take for a journal to be included in this ranking? You just have to meet two basic criteria:
- The journal must have published at least 100 citable articles in the five-year period preceding the last year indexed. For example, for the 2017 index, the journal must have published at least 100 articles in the period 2012-2016, that is, an average of 20 articles per year.
- In this five-year period the journal must have received at least one citation from any other journal of the GSM group.
The requirements are very simple, but it is recognized that this index does not include smaller publications, for example, journals that publish on average less than 20 articles per year. However, we have to consider that there are, worldwide, tens of thousands of journals that publish this amount or more of articles per year.
This requirement reminds us of an item from the proposals included in the SciELO Indexing Criteria3 published in September 2014, just two years after the emergence of GSM. These indexing criteria, currently in force, were first established for Brazil and would later be applied to the entire SciELO Network, adjusted to each country’s conditions. With great foresight and in a timely manner, the Advisory Committee of SciELO Brazil included in Table 3 considerations of the editorial production flow, which recommended a minimum quarterly periodicity for all thematic areas, and the publication of more than 25 articles per annum.
The status of SciELO Network journals
How do SciELO Network journals meet these productivity criteria?
The following information can be found in the activity reports4 available at SciELO Analytics, which is a product still under development from the scielo.org portal.
Since the onset of the SciELO Program, 19 years ago, 1,656 journal titles from 16 countries and specialized collections were registered, most of which came to be published. More than 400 titles have not finally been published or changed the title or are not currently active due the interruption of publication or indexing in SciELO. For this reason, on the SciELO Network page – http://www.scielo.org – at this post’s date, there were 1,249 journals with more than half a million articles available.
Thus, what is the h-5 index of these SciELO journals, i.e., will they be in the GSM Radar? (Will your journal be?)
Of the journals that appear as “currents” and that have published at least one number in the recent years, there are 901 journals (72%) that have a h-5 index according SciELO Analytics, that is, they appear in GSM. The other 348 (28%) are current journals that do not appear in the GSM, possibly due to the following causes: (1) Low productivity, since they do not reach 20 articles per year, even if they publish punctually and regularly; (2) Journals delayed in publication for more than two years, which affects the average number of articles; of these 348 journals, there are at least 44 which have not published articles for three years or more; (3) Journals that have not received any citations in the last five years or, at least, GSM did not detect them; and, (4) Journals that have h-5 but were not indentified ans SciELO titles and therefore are not included in SciELO Analytics h-5 report.
If you have questions about a journal, you can consult SciELO Analytics to see if it actually meets the requirements – and incidentally, it is a way to contribute to the improvement of GSM. Citations can be checked at the General Indicators table available at http://scielo.org/php/level.php?lang=pt&component=56&item=49.
The SciELO Program can also contribute to improving the product, informing GSM that some good quality journals, because of their rather specialized topics, do not have as much original material to produce 20 articles a year on average, however, due to their impact on their field, they should be in the Radar.
In other words, these more than 340 non-GSM SciELO journals possibly meet most of the criteria for editorial best practices – editorial committee, peer review, plagiarism control, internationalization, etc., but they may not be in Radar by a numerical restriction of GSM. Although we must honestly recognize that is not the case for many of them. The consequence that sooner or later will reach us is that if an author would select a journal to publish his research, and cannot publish in the elite journals, nor can pay APC… do you believe that his first choice would be to send his article to a journal that is not on GSM?
We are free to disagree with the (bad) uses of the Impact Factor, to speak ill of the companies that publish JCR and SJR because of their prejudices, elitism and trade biases. We can also hit our chest and sign as many statements as we like. However, there is a reality that faces us, and it is that if we are not able to enter the GSM index because we do not have 20 original articles per year to publish, it is time to review our strategy.
One strategy could be to start publishing special issues or supplements that complement a certain amount of articles per year in order to increase the average in five years. Progressively, the frequency should be increased permanently. It would be simpler if a continuous publication policy was adopted.
Take note that measuring the h-5 index takes place in a 5-year window, which means that by increasing the number of articles from this year on, it may take your journal two or more years to be in the ranking.
We cannot take long.
1. h-index [online]. Wikipedia. 2017 [viewed 23 march 2017]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-index
2. ORDUA-MALEA, E., et al. La revolución Google Scholar: destapando la caja de Pandora académica. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 2016. 268p. Available from: https://goo.gl/WdvuvY
3. Critérios, política e procedimentos para a admissão e a permanência de periódicos científicos na Coleção SciELO Brasil [online]. SciELO, 2014 [viewed 23 march 2017]. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/avaliacao/20141003NovosCriterios_SciELO_Brasil.pdf
4. SciELO Analytics: Reports [online]. SciELO, 2017 [viewed 23 march 2017]. Available from: http://analytics.scielo.org/w/reports
Critérios, política e procedimentos para a admissão e a permanência de periódicos científicos na Coleção SciELO Brasil [online]. SciELO, 2014 [viewed 23 march 2017]. Available from: http://www.scielo.br/avaliacao/20141003NovosCriterios_SciELO_Brasil.pdf
h-index [online]. Wikipedia. 2017 [viewed 23 march 2017]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H-index
ORDUA-MALEA, E., et al. La revolución Google Scholar: destapando la caja de Pandora académica. Granada: Universidad de Granada, 2016. 268p. Available from: https://goo.gl/WdvuvY
SciELO Analytics: Reports [online]. SciELO, 2017 [viewed 23 march 2017]. Available from: http://analytics.scielo.org/w/reports
Google Scholar Metrics – <http://scholar.google.com.uy/citations?view_op=top_venues&hl=en>
Collaborator on the SciELO program, a Systems Engineer with a Bachelor’s degree in Library Science, and a Diploma of Advanced Studies from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain) and a Master’s in “Sociedad de la Información” (Information Society) from the same university. Currently has a consulting company that provides services in information projects to 14 government institutions and universities in Uruguay.
Translated from the original in Spanish by Lilian Nassi-Calò.
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