Introduction

Although the databases of the ISI have universal application, because of its international and multidisciplinary character, it presents certain thematic, geographic, and linguistic biases that should be taken into account when used for evaluative purposes. These have been described in different publications: in favour of the English language, in favour of publications in countries with predominantly Anglo-Saxon populations, in favour of certain disciplines, especially experimental at the expense of social sciences. Spain undergoes these biases; thus, of a potential population of some 600 of Spanish scientific journals in the social sciences, the ISI database includes only two journals (Psicothema and European Journal of Psychiatry).

IN-RECS (Impact index of Spanish social-science journals) emerges with the immediate objective of rectifying this bias. IN-RECS is a bibliometric index that offers statistical information from a count of the bibliographical citations, seeking to determine scientific relevance, influence, and impact of Spanish social-science journals, of the authors publishing in these journals, and of the institutions with which the authors are affiliated. Also, this provides an individualized way of knowing the bibliographical citations that published works receive in Spanish scientific journals, and thus it becomes possible to determine the real impact that such works have in the scientific community to which they are directed.

Almost all Spanish researchers in the social sciences regularly publish in Spanish journals, while only a few publish in foreign journals, with the exception of Psychology, where foreign publication is far more frequent. The databases of the ISI represent only 10% of the Spanish scientific production in the social sciences. In consonance with these practices, Spanish researchers in the social sciences cite more national publications and positively value publication in Spanish journals.

In addition, we know that 70% of the citations received by works published by Spanish researchers in foreign journals are made by Spanish researchers. Among these, some 40% are citations made by the 44 Spanish journals indexed in the ISI. At the same time, between 70 and 90% of the citations that Spanish journals receive in the ISI databases are made by Spanish journals.

An example of this would be the case of a journal such as Papeles de Economía Española. While this journal has received 1052 citations in 19 Spanish journals in 9 years (1994-2003), it has received only 239 citations from the 8900 ISI journals between 1945 and 2003. The conclusion could not be clearer: the best way to ascertain the real audience of Spanish research as a whole is to construct databases with the bibliographic references made by the articles published in the Spanish journals to complement international and existing databases.

In general lines, the works originating in the sphere of social sciences attract the attention fundamentally within the ambits where the discoveries are made. They are used by national scientific communities, as this research is highly influenced by cultural peculiarities, where context is foremost, local problems are predominant, and an applied orientation is adopted.

Finally, we believe that an initiative of this nature will have other positive consequences. With the quantification of the influence of journals and works, the periodical publications that gain better ranking will prove more attractive for the researchers and will eventually improve the quality of the works published there. The indicators will be more precise and the national scientific production will receive the recognition it deserves and will be able to be evaluated on a plane of equality with international works. Paradoxically, today we know that work by researchers in Spain has international impact, but we do not know what part of it has national impact; that is, we do not know which works are really used in the sphere of social sciences in Spain. This index resolves this problem.

Furthermore, this index is potentially useful for researchers (both by authors as well as by readers), editors, librarians, documentalists, managers, administrators, and those responsible for agencies of scientific evaluation.

In addition, we believe that the scientific policy of Spain will benefit from having more information to identify the equipment, research lines, etc. which are currently poorly known because they remain within the national orbit.

Methodology

In the construction of the index, the following steps were followed.

  1. Identification of the population of Spanish scientific journals in the social sciences
    For this task, the main national and international directories specialized in the monitoring of periodical publications have been used: the journal directory LATINDEX, Spanish Directory of Journals of the Social Sciences and Humanities (Directorio Español de Revistas de Ciencias Sociales y Humanidades), Ulrichs Periodicals International Directory, and the collective catalogue of the network of university libraries.

  2. Distribution of journals by discipline and specialty
    In thematic terms, a prerequisite for a non-biased construction of the impact index is for the main specialities and sub-specialities be represented in the database. Consequently, at least two specialized journal from each area appears in the index as a source journal.
    For this task, two procedures were used:
    • The thematic classifications that the databases used for categorizing the indexed journals: C.D.U., Classification of Unesco, Dewey, and Ulrich's thematic classification.
    • The method of co-word analysis for constructing thematic clusters of journals. For this, the records of the source journals processed by the ISOC database 1993-2002 were analysed.

  3. Selection of source journals
    It has been widely known ever since the description by S. C. Bradford that a relatively small number of journals publish the substantial core of the significant scientific results, in any field of knowledge considered. Bibliometric studies based on the count of citations in the ISI databases have demonstrated that only 150 journals concentrate half of what is cited and a fourth of what is published on a given theme.
    Consequently, our aim has been to identify the core of the most influential Spanish scientific journals in the social sciences. For this, four criteria were used:
    • Survival or age.
    • Editorial quality in two senses: quality in the editorial process (use of a rigorous selection and evaluation system) and reputation and prestige of the editor and editorial committees.
    • Scientific impact of Spanish journals in the social sciences both at the national as well as the international level.
    • Polled opinion of Spanish researchers on the perceived quality of journals in their speciality.
    The first two criteria act as prerequisites for entering the database-that is, those journals that do not satisfy the requirements are automatically eliminated. The second two criteria are definitive for the selection.

  4. Sphere of development
    For reasons of security, robustness, efficiency, scalability, and interconnection, the management system chosen for the database (SGBD) was version 8.0.1 of the PostgreSQL system. The SGBD was run under the platform SuSe Linux 9.3.

  5. Generation of indicators
    1. Journals: from each journal title the index offers the following information:
      • Annual scientific impact, following the standard methodology.
      • Number and percentage of self-references and self-citations per year.
      • Evolution of impact and position of the journals by quartiles and in graphs.
      • Ageing curves.
      • List of journals citing and cited, arranged in descending order.
      • Citation rate per article published for the entire period.
      • Number of 'hot papers' per journal.
    2. Works: a ranking is offered by speciality of the most cited works in the database, with an indication of the citing and cited works.
    3. Authors: a list is offered by speciality of the most cited authors in the database, with an indication of the citing and cited works (in progress).
    4. Institutions: A list will be offered by specialities of the most cited institutions in the database, with an indication of the citing and cited works (in progress).

    We estimate that when the database covers all the disciplines projected, it will have some 70,000-75,000 citations to Spanish journals made by some 30,000 articles published in 100 journals that serve as the source for the generation of the impact indicators. Annually, the volume of information increases by some 12,000 bibliographical citations.
    The project is financed by the Plan Nacional I+D+I (SEJ 2004/08027SOCI,CSO2008-00174/SOCI, SEJ2007-68069-CO2-01/SOCI) and by the Dirección General de Universidades (Proyectos EA2003-086, EA2004-0119, EA2005-0068, EA2006-0018, EA2006-0027, EA2007-0138), and offers free and open access.

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    Fecha publicación: 14/10/2004 - Fecha última modificación: 15/11/2006  Optimizada para MS-Explorer con resolución 1024 x 768 pixeles