The next step in benchmarking in science: Clarivate Analytics launches Publisher Analytics Reports

At the beginning of June, Clarivate Analytics, vendor of the Impact database Web of Science, among others, informed about the launch of the Publisher Analytics Report. The press release mentions the following features prominently:

  • “The ready-to-use reports provide a snapshot of journals’ performance and inform competitor analysis. They will help publishers to easily plan robust, evidence-based strategies, based on the publisher-independent”.
  • “the report includes information on publication output, Journal Impact Factor trends, contributing countries, organisations and funders, and article-level citation analysis”
  • “The report benchmarks a journal’s published papers and explores the fate of the papers it rejects. It is designed to identify opportunities for new journals and journal sections and to help journals stakeholders better understand the influence of editorial decisions.”

Remarkably, the market and competition metaphor, which I had previously noticed from the benchmarking of scientists, is now being applied to journals and publishers. This means that the data sources on the basis of which scientists were evaluated are now suddenly evaluated themselves. This, in turn, points to the loss of relevance of the classic publication business in favour of the benchmarking and research intelligence business, which I have repeatedly expected.

Surprisingly data on rejection rates are included in the reports. I am puzzling at the moment where this information might come from, perhaps from publons. Less surprising is the same choice of words when it comes to evoking competition between scientists on the one hand and publishers on the other, e.g. “competitor” or “strategy”.

Steering science through Output Indicators & Data Capitalism

I just published a paper on “Steering science through Output Indicators & Data Capitalism” on Zenodo. It will be part of the Proceedings of the 23rd Congress of the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ESVCN 2019) held in Turin/ Italy, 17-20 September 2019.


The paper describes how commercial companies create operating systems with highly integrated services, which scientists use in every phase of their daily work and which by the way produce data about this work. These data, in turn, are processed by the commercial providers and converted into further products, which are now offered to the science bureaucracy as a tool for recruitment and research planning. The structure and marketing of both the tools for scientists and the controlling tools for the administration have features that are widely known from electronic environments (compliance through convenience, vendor-lock-in), but also features that show at the same time elements of the centrally planned economy and (although at first sight incompatible with it) a strong competitive connotation. The presentation also discusses the possible consequences of such a data-driven science control for individual researchers as well as for science as a social enterprise.

Read more here:

Ulrich Herb (2019). Steering science through Output Indicators & Data Capitalism. Proceedings of the 23rd Congress of the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition, Turin 2019.

Crowdfunding: Survey on Open Access at universities and research institutions

Open Access LogoCurrently I am planning to offer the development of a questionnaire on Open Access at universities and research institutions.

Some of the topics would be the acceptance of Open Access by researchers, the acceptance of in-house Open Access services, and gaps in the service portfolio.

Since the offer is intended for libraries or other institutions at universities, readers are asked whether their institutions are interested in having such a survey developed by an external expert.

The advantages:

  1. If enough funding institutions can be found, a standardised questionnaire will be developed.
  2. The design of the questionnaire is developed together with the clients.
  3. The reports per client are provided by scidecode.
  4. The questionnaire (the instrument) will be open for further use and be licensed under an open license.
  5. The clients will get data and information on Open Access at their institution without having to set up their own technology and without investments in human resources.
  6. All this would be cheaper and faster to produce results than a third-party funded project.
  7. Compliance with data protection regulations is guaranteed, based on experiences from past online surveys.

Reactions are welcome at or by telephone at 0049 157 30306851.

Updated list of highly cited open-access journals

Yesterday the National Contact Point Open Access OA2020-DE (Germany) published an updated list of of frequently cited open-access journals.

The list comprises 800 Open Access journals; it is based on data from the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) that is enriched with SNIP-Scores (Source Normalized Impact per Paper). SNIP relies on citation information from Scopus and measures contextual citation impact: It weights citations based on the total number of citations in a subject field and therefore balances differences in citation practices between scientific fields.


Germany: Implementation of a competence and networking platform in the field of Open Access

On the 20th of May, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) announced a funding programme for implementation of a competence and networking platform in the field of Open Access.

Here is some information from the call for proposals…


“With the funding initiative for the competence and networking platform in the area of Open Access, the BMBF is aiming to

  • bundle provision and communication of information on Open Access;
  • offer training opportunities for audiences from different locations and disciplines;
  • improve networking and cooperation between the actors involved from the scientific community.”


“Public and private universities as well as non-university research institutions, scientific institutions and comparable institutions are eligible to apply. (…)

Research institutions that receive basic funding from the Federal Government and/or the federal states can only be granted project funding for their additional project-related expenses or costs under certain conditions in addition to their institutional funding.

The funding of economic activities is excluded.”

Duration and amount of funding:

“A joint project is to be funded over a project duration of up to 36 months by means of full financing. A total of up to 800,000 euros p.a. is available for this purpose (distributed over all sub-projects). (…) The planned start of funding is 1 January 2020.”

Präsentation zum Workshop “Publizieren wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten” online

Ab heute stehen die Folien zum gestrigen Workshop “Publizieren wissenschaftlicher Arbeiten” an der Universität des Saarlandes (UdS) online. Wie sich auf dem Bild unten erkennen lässt, war die Teilnehmergruppe recht gemischt, auch wenn die Fächer aus dem Bereich STM überwogen.

Die Themen, an denen die TeilnehmerInnen zu Beginn des Workshops besonderes Interesse bekundeten, waren die Wahl des richtigen Publikationsorts, Finanzierung von (Buch-)Publikationen und Open Science. In der Diskussion spielten allerdings Verfahren der Qualitätssicherung und -messung eine mindestens ebenso große Rolle.


Ich bedanke mich beim GradUS-Team der UdS für die tolle Unterstützung und die Einladung zum Workshop.

Die Präsentation ist via Slideshare verfügbar, kann aber auch hier eingesehen werden:

Der Inhalt ist nicht verfügbar.
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ReseachGate is granted a patent for (semantic) citation analysis

The Library Journal two days ago informed about an interesting patent granted to the Social Network ResearchGate: “ResearchGate Granted U.S. Patent 10,282,424: ‘Linking Documents Using Citations’“. The abstract describes the patent as follows…

“Aspects of the present disclosure relate to linking documents using citations. A server accesses a stored document in a data repository. The server determines a set of candidate citing documents that cite the stored document. The server obtains, for each candidate citing document from the set, first information representing an impact of the candidate citing document taken as a whole and second information representing a citation context within the candidate citing document. The server determines a subset of citing documents, from the set of candidate citing documents, based on the obtained first information and the obtained second information. The server provides a digital transmission of the stored document, including visible indicia of the subset of citing documents, for display at a client device.”

Sounds to me like automated citation analysis enriched with semantic intelligence.


Workshop on scientific publishing at the Saarland University

On 16 May I will be holding a workshop at my home university, Saarland University, on “Publishing scientific texts” in the GradUS Graduate Program. On the GradUS website you can find more information and also a registration form.

Young scientists are at the beginning of their research careers, which at the same time are publishing careers. The latter is more than important for professional advancement and promotion; it is no coincidence that in science the motto “publish or perish” is used – those who do not publish will find it difficult to make professional progress.

This workshop therefore provides an orientation on the possibilities, mechanisms and current developments of scientific publishing as well as on the legal pitfalls that scientists will face throughout their lives.


  • Publications as the key to scientific success
  • Publication processes in various disciplines
  • Quality assurance and measurement in publishing
  • Open Access: How and why you might publish your results Open Access
  • how to find a suitable publication venue
  • Outlook: Text, Data, Software and Social Media



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Use and Usefulness of bibliometric and scientometric Data for Knowledge Management

On 11.05.2019 I will give a visiting lecture at the department of Information Science of the Hochschule für Technik und Wissenschaft in Chur (University of Applied Sciences, Chur/ Switzerland) on the use and usefulness of bibliometric and scientometric data for knowledge management. The focus is not only on classical citation data, but also on altmetrics and data from social networks such as ResearchGate or the recommender functions of commercial services for science management.

Springer Nature reaches £9.6 million agreement in the UK – not included: Nature-branded titles

According to a press release by Springer Nature there is a new contract of the group with Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC).

The deal is based on the principle of  “read and publish” and shall fulfill the requirements of Plan S. As noted by Springer Nature the “agreement limits the costs of publishing all UK articles open access (OA) while maintaining access to all of Springer’s subscription articles. The deal converts the previous subscription agreement to one based on OA.” One could also phrase it more critically: The agreement allows Open Access only against continued subscription.

Steven Inchcoombe, chief publishing officer at Springer Nature, emphases in the press release: “By making it easy for researchers, 77% of our UK corresponding authors’ work is now available for free immediately at the point of publication (Gold OA) showing that real progress in advancing open research can be achieved.”

Since in my opinion only articles by corresponding authors from the UK are published Open Access and the rest of the publications are not, I would rather speak of Hybrid Open Access.

According to the press release the new agreement makes it possible that 99.8% of all articles covered by the deal will be published under a Creative Commons ‘Attribution’ licence (CC BY).

As the Times Higher Education states the “three-year agreement, valued at £9.6 million, excludes Springer Nature’s prestigious Nature-branded titles”.

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