Sense and nonsense in bibliometrics

Andrzej K. Wroblewski,
Physics Department, Warsaw University

Bibliometrics is a tool by which the state of science and technology can purportedly be observed through the overall production of scientific literature. Science administrators and politicians regard it as an aid to decision making and research management. A number of so-called bibliometric indicators have been invented. At closer look, however, some of these indicators have little sense or carry meaning different from the one assumed. Improper handling of bibliometric parameters may result in serious damage to groups and individuals. It is thus important for the researchers to understand some bibliometrics if only to be able to defend themselves against unjustified judgement.
The author is a high energy physicist who also does research in the history of physics. He was elected by the physics community in Poland to serve as their representative in the Polish State Committee of Scientific Research. It is because of this engagement that he had to learn the secrets of bibliometrics.