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Integrated impact indicators compared with impact factors: An alternative research design with policy implications


  • Loet Leydesdorff
  • Lutz Bornmann


In bibliometrics, the association of “impact” with central‐tendency statistics is mistaken. Impacts add up, and citation curves therefore should be integrated instead of averaged. For example, the journals MIS Quarterly and Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology differ by a factor of 2 in terms of their respective impact factors (IF), but the journal with the lower IF has the higher impact. Using percentile ranks (e.g., top‐1%, top‐10%, etc.), an Integrated Impact Indicator (I3) can be based on integration of the citation curves, but after normalization of the citation curves to the same scale. The results across document sets can be compared as percentages of the total impact of a reference set. Total number of citations, however, should not be used instead because the shape of the citation curves is then not appreciated. I3 can be applied to any document set and any citation window. The results of the integration (summation) are fully decomposable in terms of journals or institutional units such as nations, universities, and so on because percentile ranks are determined at the paper level. In this study, we first compare I3 with IFs for the journals in two Institute for Scientific Information subject categories (“Information Science & Library Science” and “Multidisciplinary Sciences”). The library and information science set is additionally decomposed in terms of nations. Policy implications of this possible paradigm shift in citation impact analysis are specified.
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Suggested Citation

  • Loet Leydesdorff & Lutz Bornmann, 2011. "Integrated impact indicators compared with impact factors: An alternative research design with policy implications," Journal of the Association for Information Science & Technology, Association for Information Science & Technology, vol. 62(11), pages 2133-2146, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jinfst:v:62:y:2011:i:11:p:2133-2146

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