Navigating the geography of citation indices

Debbie Chaves of Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario writes in Correspondence in the current issue of Nature (Nature 453, 719; 2008):

In his Correspondence ‘Hall and Keynes join Arbor in the citation indexes’ (Nature 452, 282; 2008 – see also Nautilus), Daniel Postellon describes the distinguished careers of Milton Keynes, Walton Hall and Ann Arbor. In the last case, I note that Professor Arbor has an h-index of 1 from the Web of Science database provided by Thomson Scientific’s ISI Web of Knowledge. This is based on her five citations for the year 2007: two articles, two letters and one abstract.

An author search in the Web of Science reveals that Chevy Chase MD (not to be confused with Chevy Chase, Maryland) has co-authored a letter with Howard Kaplan (H. Kaplan Am. Sci. 96, 3; 2008). My own institution, Wilfrid Laurier University, is also an author (S. Cadell et al. J. Palliat. Care 23, 273–279; 2007).

Irrespective of how these errors are created, the rising use of systems in which citation information moves directly from the search of a database or citation index to a bibliographic management system, and then into a reference list, means that inexperienced students and researchers who are not savvy enough to detect these errors will propagate them further.

Vigilance is required by all users of citation indexes and databases.


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