Validation of bibliometric indicators in the field of mathematics

J. C. Korevaar, H. F. Moed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Bibliometric analyses of scientific publications provide quantitative information that enables evaluators to obtain a useful picture of a team's research visibility. In combination with peer judgements and other qualitative background knowledge, these analyses can serve as a basis for discussions about research performance quality. However, many mathematicians are not convinced that citation counts do in fact provide useful information in the field of mathematics. According to these mathematicians, citation and publication habits differ completely from scholarly fields such as chemistry or physics. Therefore, it is impossible to derive valid information regarding research performance from citation counts. The aim of this study is to obtain more insight into the significance of citation-based indicators in the field of mathematics. To which extent do citation-scores mirror to the opinions of experts concerning the quality of a paper or a journal? A survey was conducted to answer this question. Top journals, as qualified by experts, receive significantly higher citation rates than good journals. These good journals, in turn, have significantly higher scores than journals with the qualification less good. Top publications, recorded in the ISI database, receive on the average 15 times more citations than the mean score within the field of mathematics as a whole. In conclusion, the experts' views on top publications or top journals correspond very well to bibliometric indicators based on citation counts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-130
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


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