Bibliometric research evaluations, Web of Science and the Social Sciences and Humanities: a problematic relationship?


  • Thed van Leeuwen CWTS Leiden University



This paper presents results from a study on two main issues in many bibliometric studies, namely language of publications and coverage issues. While these two phenomena are hardly considered as probelmatic in most bibliometric analyses in the life sciences, the natural sciences and biomedicine, these two topics do play a role while discussing the application of bibliometrics in the assessment of research and scholarly activity in the social sciences, humanities, and law. From a wider international perspective, we will further focus on German research performance in the social sciences, humanities, and law, over a period of nearly 30 years how coverage issues and language of publication have influenced scholarly activity and the international visibility of research output in these domains when written in German. Similar studies in other European languages will show the same pattern: given the current coverage of the well-known bibliometric databases and  an increasing focus of English as Lingua France of modern day scholarly activity, the current bibliometric tools are insufficient to support the actual research assessment of scholars in the social sciences, humanities, and law. This asks for a broader focus on a wider variety of publication types, which are not always intended for a purely academic audience.