According to recent research results, the presence of simple hyphens in the titles of scientific papers has a negative effect on citation statistics, regardless of the quality of the articles. The phenomenon applies to all important topics. Therefore, citation counts and journal impact factors commonly used to rate professors at universities worldwide are unreliable.
This groundbreaking result presents the game rule with a fundamental challenge in determining the contributions of newspapers, journals and professors. It is featured in an article titled "Metamorphic Robustness Testing: Revealing Hidden Errors in Citation Statistics and Journal Impact Factors" by Zhi Quan Zhou, T.H. Tse and Matt Witheridge, recently published in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering the top journal in the field.
T.H. Tse is Honorary Professor of Computer Science at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). Zhi Quan Zhou received a doctorate. from the HKU and is currently Associate Professor of Software Engineering at the University of Wollongong, Australia. Matt Witheridge is a Ph.D. Student at the University of Wollongong.
Scopus and Web of Science are the two leading indexing systems. Scopus provides citation statistics to support the rankings of Times Higher Education World University and QS World University. Web of Science provides the Journal Impact Factor, which supports the ranking of major journals. Because of the importance of these two indexing systems, it is important to ensure their quality. Robustness testing is, in particular, a test of the ability of the system to deal with erroneous inputs or unexpected situations. For example, can the indexing system properly handle a quote if a minor typo occurs while citing the title of the work?
Professor Tse and his team members proposed an innovative method called "Metamorphic Robustness Testing" to verify Scopus and Web of Science. The in-depth investigation uncovered robustness deficiencies in both systems, which may lead to erroneous citation counts for papers with hyphens in the titles, so the subsequently calculated Journal Impact Factors are problematic.
Already in 201
On the contrary, Professor Tse and the current team find that in fact the number of dashes in the title is the more dominant factor in the number of citations. Normally the number of hyphens is correlated with the title length of a paper, which leads to the misinterpretation that the number of citations depends on the title length. Publications in specific areas can be systematically cited more frequently than in other areas. For example, it may be argued that essays in chemistry (where header titles often carry hyphens as part of chemical nomenclature) receive only a relatively limited number of citations, resulting in a false negative correlation between hyphens and citations. Therefore, the team carried out targeted studies on journals in specific fields. The results indicated that hyphens adversely affect the number of citations of articles, even if the study is limited to one particular discipline.
To build on the results at the article and discipline level, the team examined the impact of hyphens in paper titles at the journal level. The Journal Impact Factor (JIF) is a common metric used to determine the citation frequency of an academic journal. It is often used to illustrate the relative importance of a journal in its field. A field-wide software engineering study shows that JIF-ranked journals publish a lower percentage of hyphenated titles.
The team also carried out an analysis of the validity of the research so as not to fall into the trap of equating correlations with causality.
"Our findings challenge the common belief of science, governments and funders that citations are a reliable measure of the contributions and importance of publications, in fact they can easily be falsified by the presence of hyphens" Results are not only of interest to professors seeking employment or promotion, "they apply to all faculties of every university," he added.
Topic-adapted visibility metric for scientific articles
Zhi Quan Zhou et al., Metamorphic Robustness Testing: Detecting Hidden Errors in Citation Statistics and Journal Impact Factors, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (2019). DOI: 10.1109 / TSE.2019.2915065
Hyphens in Papers Impact the Number of Quotes and Factors Affecting Diaries (2019, May 31)
retrieved on May 31, 2019
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