Bibliometric research

There are now many bibliometric studies that rely on Google Scholar (with Publish or Perish) to do their research. An all of the words Google Scholar search for the words: Harzing "Publish or Perish" results in more than 2,000 hits.

Google Scholar has come a long way...

Google Scholar has come a long way since the early days of its introduction in 2004. Its coverage has improved dramatically and is now better for all disciplines than either the Web of Science or Scopus. The table below summarises part of the results of our recent study of 146 academics in the Life Sciences, Sciences, Engineering, Social Sciences and Humanities.

Discipline
Scopus citations as % of
Google Scholar citations
Web of Science citations as % of
Google Scholar citations
Humanities
11.5%
7.0%
Social Sciences
30.0%
22.7%
Engineering
57.6%
45.7%
Sciences
64.2%
65.6%
Life Sciences
70.5%
66.8%

As is immediately apparent, both the Web of Science and Scopus miss a huge number of citations in the Humanities and Social Sciences, mostly because they do include book publications and in some disciplines cover only a fraction of the journals. However, even in Engineering, the Sciences and the Life Sciences, Google Scholar reports between one-and-a-half and twice as many citations as the Web of Science and Scopus.

Google Scholar is not a bibliometric database

However, just like Publish or Perish, Google Scholar is free and does not charge any subscription fees. Its data rely on crawling websites with scholarly articles. Thus one cannot expect the same level of accuracy as manually curated databases such as the Web of Science and Scopus, that charge universities a very hefty subscription fee.

Sacrifice a little accuracy for a lot more comprehensive coverage

That said, based on my own and other recent research on Google Scholar I would estimate that - ignoring the [citation] records - its accuracy lies above 95%. Scopus and the Web of Science probably have an accuracy level of above 99%, but the comprehensiveness of their coverage is much lower than Google Scholar.

Doing bibliometric research on authors or journals

The next two tips provide you with some suggestions on how to do bibliometric research on author or journals. They use Google Scholar as a data source. However, Publish or Perish can import ISI/Web of Science and Scopus data as well, so if you prefer you can conduct the same studies with different data sources.

Support Publish or Perish

The development of the Publish or Perish software is a volunteering effort that has been ongoing since 2006. Download and use of Publish or Perish is and will remain free (gratis), but your support toward the costs of hosting, bandwidth, and software development are appreciated. Your support helps further development of Publish or Perish for new data sources and additional features.