Bibliometrics

Bibliometrics is a set of methods to quantitatively analyze scientific and technological literature in order to study the research activity itself. Large sets of bibliographic data are turned into advanced indicators for productivity, research profiles, scientific developments, research fronts, collaboration patterns, and citation impact.

Bibliometric studies have been carried out at NIFU since 1985. The studies have varied from basic research projects to bibliometrics for research evaluations, mapping of research fields and collaboration networks, and advanced bibliometric indicators for annual statistical reports.

NIFU carries out bibliometric research and analyses for various organizations, for example, the Research Council of Norway, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services, the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions, NordForsk (Nordic Council of Ministers), the The Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education, and the EU commission.

Examples of previous projects with bibliometric studies can be divided into five categories:

  • Monitoring of scientific development: includes analyses of trends in the performance of particular scientific disciplines and countries, for example the level of the activity in terms of number of publications and the citation rates of these publications. Typically, comparisons are made between countries or institutions. Such analyses and data are often included in white papers on research and in other science policy documents. In particular, bibliometric indicators are used for this purpose in the Report on Science & Technology Indicators for Norway, which is published annually by the Research Council of Norway. The report contains a broad range of input and output indicators. Bibliometric data are used to construct indicators of the output and impact of the research system, and of international collaboration in research.
  • Research evaluations:  Increasingly, bibliometrics analyses have been provided as part of research evaluations in Norway. Here, bibliometric data and indicators are used as information for the peer-review process in the assessment of the research performance. Our analyses have covered evaluations of institutions (seldom), programmes (more often) and disciplines (regularly).
  • Complete publication data for performance based funding of three main research sectors: NIFU has been involved in the development of funding models based on bibliometric data. Such systems have now been developed for three sectors: Hospitals (since 2003), developed for the Ministry of Health and Care Services; Higher Education Sector (since 2004), developed for the Norwegian Association for Higher Education Institutions; The institute sector (as of 2008), developed for the Research Council of Norway. Although the models differ slightly, the basic principle is bibliometric indicators where publications are weighted and counted in a way that balances between field specific publications patterns, thereby making them comparable also across the three sectors just mentioned.
  • Field studies:  NIFU’s bibliometric analyses have been included in studies of research fields and disciplines. For example, NIFU has carried out analyses of polar research and fuel cell and hydrogen technology as well as wind, solar photovoltaic, CO2 capture and storage and second generation biofuels where bibliometric indicators have been used for mapping the structure and development of the research activities.
  • Scientific contributions: NIFU has regularly published scientific contributions within the field of bibliometrics. Among are two doctoral dissertations: Svein Kyvik: Productivity in Academia (1991); and Dag W. Aksnes: Citations and their use as Indicators in Science Policy (2005). Examples of some recent publications can be found in the reference list of this document and in the CVs of NIFU’s team for this project. The scientific studies cover a wide range of issues within many areas of bibliometrics, from patents studies to methodological issues. A common characteristic is, however, a science policy approach. Four research areas can be mentioned specifically: Journal impact factors (Per O. Seglen), productivity studies (Svein Kyvik), citation indicators (Dag W. Aksnes), and studies of collaboration patterns, development of bibliometric funding models, and studies of publication patterns in the humanities and social sciences (Gunnar Sivertsen).