Counting methods introduced into the bibliometric research literature 1970-2018: A review

by   Marianne Gauffriau, et al.

The present review of bibliometric counting methods investigates 1) the number of unique counting methods in the bibliometric research literature, 2) to what extent the counting methods can be categorized according to selected characteristics of the counting methods, 3) methods and elements to assess the internal validity of the counting methods, and 4) to what extent and with which characteristics the counting methods are used in research evaluations. The review identifies 32 counting methods introduced during the period 1981 - 2018. Two frameworks categorize these counting methods. Framework 1 describes selected mathematical properties of counting methods, and Framework 2 describes arguments for choosing a counting method. Twenty of the 32 counting methods are rank-dependent, fractionalized, and introduced to measure contribution, participation, etc. of an object of study. Next, three criteria for internal validity are used to identify five methods that test the adequacy of counting methods, two elements that test sensitivity, and three elements that test homogeneity of the counting methods. These methods and elements may be used to assess the internal validity of counting methods. Finally, a literature search finds research evaluations that use the counting methods. Only three of the 32 counting methods are used by four research evaluations or more. Of these three counting methods, two are used with the same characteristics as defined in the studies that introduced the counting methods. The review provides practitioners in research evaluation and researchers in bibliometrics with a detailed foundation for working with counting methods. At the same time, many of the findings in the review provide bases for future investigations of counting methods.


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