Accuracy: Check year

Note: This tutorial was originally written for Publish or Perish version 4 and all screenshots come from this version. However, the information as such is also applicable for the latest Publish or Perish versions 5 and 6. For information about accuracy in Microsoft Academic, please see the helpfile.

It is advisable to check the Years result in Publish or Perish to see whether it reflects common sense.

Year values that are too high

Obviously, if the value is >100 for an author, something is wrong. However, even finding values of >40 for authors should lead you to be suspicious, unless the academic is close to retirement.

Sort results by year

As my last name (Harzing) is fairly unique and there are no other academics with the same last name that publish regularly, I often tend to conduct Publish or Perish searches with my last name only (see screenshot). However, this leads to a Years value of 62, which is clearly impossible. Sorting by year easily allows me to spot the offending publications.


Remove publications from a namesake from an earlier generation

The first eight publications are historical articles and books by my late grandfather (Wim Harzing) about the city in which he lived. Hence sorting by year is also a very good way to separate your own publications from those of a namesake from an earlier generation.

Ensuring a reasonable "academic age"

Sorting by year can also be used to ensure that any metrics based on “academic age” (i.e. the number of years since your first publication) are a reasonable reflection of the academic’s career. If for instance you find that someone has published one article in a fairly obscure journal (maybe in another language) or published a master’s thesis many years before a steady stream of articles emerged, it might be justifiable to simply exclude this publication from the analysis.

Sorting by year to spot Google Scholar parsing errors

Sorting by year is also a good way to spot Google Scholar parsing errors where Google Scholar has mistakenly interpreted numbers elsewhere in the article as the year of publication.

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PS: If you are using Publish or Perish on a regular basis, please take 5 minutes to provide me with some feedback.