Evaluation of Scopus

 

Scopus is a bibliometric tool which covers peer-reviewed literature, scientific journals, conference proceedings and books. Its coverage encompasses physical sciences, life sciences, social sciences and health sciences which appears to be an extensive range. It was the first time I have used it and so I performed an author search on my husband who used to be a research chemist and was taken straight to his work and the corresponding bibliometrics despite most of it being over 20 years old. The result included his h-index, his total number of citations and citations for individual papers. There were also tools included which graphically represented the results and a link to add the details to ORCID. Overall I felt it was a very usable tool. It was decided to evaluate it more fully against the principles outlined in the Leiden Manifesto .

  1. Quantitative evaluations should support qualitative expert assessment. Scopus merely provides quantitative data; it would be up to the individual to qualitatively analyse it.
  2. Measure performance against the research missions of the institution, group or researcher. When searching for an institution a list of their affiliations with other institutions is listed, along with a pie chart of the subject areas of the published papers. Similar information can be found when doing an author search. However, nothing could be found about research missions of institutions or individuals.
  3. Protect excellence in locally relevant research. There are a significant number of journals within the Scopus database which are not written in English, thereby allowing locally relevant research to be read in the language of the region to which it pertains.
  4. Keep data collection and analytical processes open, transparent and simple. All the details examined were open and could easily be verified using the links provided.
  5. Allow those evaluated to verify data and analysis. There is a facility to correct the author details within Scopus by contacting Elsevier.
  6. Account for variation by field in publication and citation practices. SCImago Journal Rank, which is part of Scopus allows for comparison of citation levels dependant on subject area and types of publication in which the article appears.
  7. Base assessment of individual researchers on a qualitative judgement of their portfolio. There is no facility to do this using Scopus.
  8. Avoid misplaced concreteness and false precision. Elsevier states in its terms and conditions that it is not responsible for any omissions, which implies it accepts that there are some. None of the indicators are quoted to more than one decimal place.
  9. Recognize the systemic effects of assessment and indicators. Several indicators are included including the author’s h-index, the number of times they have been cited both for single papers and the author’s affiliations.
  10. Scrutinize indicators regularly and update them. It does appear to update its indicators, for example altmetrics can now be assessed using the tool.

When examining the Scopus database, I found it very usable despite it being my first time using it and I could find a lot of information that I required. I found the ability to produce graphics utilising the tool a positive feature which I feel will appeal to researchers and institutions alike. It did not, however, allow for qualitative evaluation, which is a skill that an experienced librarian could bring to the process.

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