Bibliometrics in relation to horticultural science

ISHS Secretariat

Viewpoint by Prof. Dr. António A. Monteiro, President of ISHS, originally published as a "Postcard" in Chronica Horticulturae 53/01, March 2013

I frequently have to deal with bibliometrics in my current responsibilities at the University. I am always amazed by the high number and the apparent sophistication of the indexes used to evaluate and compare the impact of scientific publications. Over the last 25 years, scientists have learned to cope with an apparent dogma: the more citations, the bigger the impact and the higher the value of the research published in scientific journals. In a similar manner to other applied scientific areas, horticulture has been caught by this creed.

We know the primary objective of research is not to be cited, but to contribute to the advance of knowledge and to the socio-economic progress of humankind. There are methods to evaluate the real impact of research, but they are rather challenging and complex to implement. Therefore many prefer the simplicity of counting articles and citations.

When relying solely and blindly on bibliometrics to evaluate their staff, scientific institutions are encouraging research to progressively drift away from the real and important problems science has to solve. This is particularly true in horticulture.

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