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The Use of Bibliometrics to Measure Research Performance in Education Sciences


  • Andrea Diem

    (Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SCCRE), Aarau)

  • Stefan C. Wolter

    (Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SCCRE), Aarau, and University of Bern, CESifo and IZA)


This paper investigates the fitness-for-purpose and soundness of bibliometric parameters for measuring and elucidating the research performance of individual researchers in the field of education sciences in Switzerland. In order to take into account the specificities of publication practices of researchers in education sciences, the analyses are based on two separate databases: Web of Science and Google Scholar. Both databases show a very unequal distribution of the individual research output, and the indicators used to measure research performance (quantity of publications and citation impact) from the two data sources are highly positively correlated. However, individual characteristics of the researchers, such as age, gender and academic position, that serve to explain the great variance in research performance, can only be identified if the Web of Science is used as a benchmark of research performance. The results indicate that Google Scholar is so inclusive that it impedes a meaningful interpretation of the data. However, the Web of Science inclusion policy for journals is also associated with certain shortcomings that put some researchers at an unjustified disadvantage. Therefore, problems currently exist in regard to both citation databases when used to benchmark individual research performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Diem & Stefan C. Wolter, 2011. "The Use of Bibliometrics to Measure Research Performance in Education Sciences," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0066, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised May 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:iso:educat:0066

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    Cited by:

    1. Alona Zharova & Janine Tellinger-Rice & Wolfgang Karl Härdle, 2018. "How to measure the performance of a Collaborative Research Center," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(2), pages 1023-1040, November.
    2. Yi Zhang & Mingting Kou & Kaihua Chen & Jiancheng Guan & Yuchen Li, 2016. "Modelling the Basic Research Competitiveness Index (BR-CI) with an application to the biomass energy field," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 108(3), pages 1221-1241, September.
    3. Lukas D. Filser & Fábio Francisco Silva & Otávio José Oliveira, 2017. "State of research and future research tendencies in lean healthcare: a bibliometric analysis," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 112(2), pages 799-816, August.
    4. Rørstad, Kristoffer & Aksnes, Dag W., 2015. "Publication rate expressed by age, gender and academic position – A large-scale analysis of Norwegian academic staff," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 317-333.
    5. Fernando J. Garrigos-Simon & M. Dolores Botella-Carrubi & Tomas F. Gonzalez-Cruz, 2018. "Social Capital, Human Capital, and Sustainability: A Bibliometric and Visualization Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(12), pages 1-19, December.
    6. Jesus Palomo & Cristina Figueroa-Domecq & Pilar Laguna, 2017. "Women, peace and security state-of-art: a bibliometric analysis in social sciences based on SCOPUS database," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 113(1), pages 123-148, October.
    7. Alona Zharova & Wolfgang K. Härdle & Stefan Lessmann, 2017. "Is Scientific Performance a Function of Funds?," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2017-028, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    8. Bayissa Badada Badassa & Baiqing Sun & Lixin Qiao, 2020. "Sustainable Transport Infrastructure and Economic Returns: A Bibliometric and Visualization Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(5), pages 1-24, March.
    9. Bornmann, Lutz & Williams, Richard, 2017. "Can the journal impact factor be used as a criterion for the selection of junior researchers? A large-scale empirical study based on ResearcherID data," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 788-799.
    10. Fernando J. Garrigos-Simon & Yeamduan Narangajavana-Kaosiri & Ismael Lengua-Lengua, 2018. "Tourism and Sustainability: A Bibliometric and Visualization Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(6), pages 1-23, June.
    11. Akhmat, Ghulam & Zaman, Khalid & Shukui, Tan & Javed, Yasir & Khan, Muhammad Mushtaq, 2014. "Relationship between educational indicators and research outcomes in a panel of top twenty nations: Windows of opportunity," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 349-361.
    12. Feng, Feng & Zhang, Leiyong & Du, Yuneng & Wang, Weiguang, 2015. "Visualization and quantitative study in bibliographic databases: A case in the field of university–industry cooperation," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 118-134.
    13. Amador Durán-Sánchez & José Álvarez-García & María de la Cruz del Río-Rama & Beatriz Rosado-Cebrián, 2019. "Science Mapping of the Knowledge Base on Tourism Innovation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(12), pages 1-17, June.

    More about this item


    bibliometrics; education sciences; research performance; scientometric methods; science research;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • I29 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Other

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