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When I first saw http://googlescholar.blogspot.com/2012/04/google-scholar-metrics-for-publications.html, I figured it was an April Fool’s Day joke. It was dated April 1, which was even a Sunday, and the help page emphasizes sentences like “Scholar Metrics are based on our index as it was on April 1st, 2012. For ease of comparison, they are NOT updated as the Scholar index is updated.” However, I’ve now run across several web pages where people refer to it as if it were serious and useful (e.g., this one), and I’m starting to wonder whether it’s actually an incompetent attempt at bibliometrics, rather than a joke.
Their top 100 list of publication venues, as ordered by 5-year h index (a ridiculous way to compare journals of different sizes), compares Nature and Science with the arXiv and the Social Science Research Network. They suggest searching for “design” as one of their examples, and it will then cheerfully rank disparate journals like Current Pharmaceutical Design, IEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems, and Nuclear Engineering and Design relative to each other. The blog post says “Here is hoping Google Scholar Metrics will help authors worldwide as they consider where to publish their latest article”, but is there anyone in the world who is trying to decide whether to publish in Current Pharmaceutical Design or Nuclear Engineering and Design? Aiming for the highest h-index journal that has a certain word in the title is a poor strategy.
Searching for “mathematics” reveals that by their metrics, the top five journals with “mathematics” in the title are, in decreasing order, Applied Mathematics and Computation, Annals of Mathematics, Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics, Computers & Mathematics with Applications, and Advances in Mathematics. Note that Applied Mathematics and Computation and Computers & Mathematics with Applications are also on the list of low-quality Elsevier journals with astonishing failures of peer review, so these metrics are clearly worthless.
I really hope this was an April Fool’s Day joke, and I can’t see why they would emphasize the April 1 date several times otherwise, but if it is a joke, then it seems to be a little too subtle for the internet audience.
Searching for it together with “April Fools” got me to this page: http://www.ditii.com/2012/04/01/april-fools-day-pranks-youtube-collection-cloud-api-google-fiber-retro-ro-gmail-tap/. However, that’s not an official Google page (as far as I can tell) and it does seem a little different to the other fools.
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