Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Countdown to Korea

I've booked my trip to Korea for the IPCC Working Group III 5th Assessment Report meeting in Changwon City. I'll also be giving a presentation on 18th July at the Korea Energy Economics Institute. My former student Sung-Kyun Kim started working there earlier this year after getting his PhD from RPI in economics. Work is starting up on the first draft of our chapter, known as the "Zero Order Draft". First task is to read Chapter 3 from the 4th Assessment Report and the guidelines for writing our chapter and connecting our work to the other chapters in the report. We are using some nice tools to coordinate our work which I hadn't used before. One is Dropbox which installs a virtual folder on your computer (on Windows, Mac, or Linux) which is shared across a collaborative team. You can also use it of course, to simply store your own stuff in "the cloud". Another is Doodle which you can use to schedule a meeting. Each of us enter the times we are available to the website. The nice thing is that it automatically gives you the times in your own time zone. This is very useful for a group spanning the time zones from Canberra to California via China, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.

Monday, May 30, 2011

ARC to Abolish Existing Journal Ranking System

The Australian Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr put out apress release today describing changes to be made in the 2012 ERA research assessment exercise compared to the 2010 ERA. One of the changes is: "The refinement of the journal quality indicator to remove the prescriptive A*, A, B and C ranks". This follows consultation on changes to the ranking scheme. "The Australian Research Council (ARC) will use a refined journal quality indicator for ERA 2012." In other words:

"Evaluation committees will assess the appropriateness of the journals used as publication outlets for research, taking into account any regional or applied focus of the disciplinary unit concerned. For this purpose, evaluation committees will be presented with a profile of the journals (or other relevant publications) used most frequently by the unit under evaluation. The change empowers committee members to use their expert judgement to take account of nuances in publishing behaviour. This approach will allow experts to make judgements about the quality of journals in the context of each discipline.” said ARC CEO, Professor Margaret Sheil.

This is a further step away from quantitative assessment in disciplines such as economics, whereas I think they should move further towards quantitative assessment. On the other hand, this is likely to be a plus for institutions such as the College of Asia and the Pacific at ANU, which have a regional focus.

I think it is to some degree true that:

"There is clear and consistent evidence that the rankings were being deployed inappropriately within some quarters of the sector, in ways that could produce harmful outcomes, and based on a poor understanding of the actual role of the rankings. One common example was the setting of targets for publication in A and A* journals by institutional research managers.

In light of these two factors – that ERA could work perfectly well without the rankings, and that their existence was focussing ill-informed, undesirable behaviour in the management of research – I have made the decision to remove the rankings, based on the ARC’s expert advice."

I don't think that ANU has been overly prescriptive on this, but definitely there has been a feeling that we should try to avoid publishing in journals ranked B or C if possible. I have heard rumors that other universities were telling researchers that it was better not to publish than to publish in a B or C journal. This is diametrically opposed to the previous Australian tendency to publish lots of papers in low ranked journals.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

SNIP and SJR: Two New Journal Ranking Indicators from Elsevier

SNIP - Source Normalized Impact per Paper and SJR - are two new indicators provided by Elsevier based on the Scopus citation database. The indicators are available from the Journal Metrics website.

SNIP takes into account citation practices in the field of interest. A journal's field is the journals citing that journal and the average length of reference lists in papers in that field are taken into account. Also taken into account is the number of those references in the reference lists that are in the database. This defines the "citation potential". This potential is measured relative to the median paper in the dataset which is assigned a potential of 1.0. The ratio of the citations per paper of a journal and its citation potential is its SNIP. This is supposed to allow comparison of citation impact factors across different academic fields. SNIP analyses citations in a given year to articles published in the three previous years (The ISI impact factor uses citations in either the previous 2 or 5 years).

So here are some SNIP scores over the last decade for several environmental and energy economics journals:

I dropped the 2010 SNIP figures as these are all very strange. These are not so different to ISI's impact factors. In particular, we can see the rise in the absolute and relative ranking of the energy journals: Energy Journal, Energy Economics, and Energy Policy. Also JEEM is the top environmental economics journal with Ecological Economics ranked second.

SJR is an eigenfactor type indicator similar in principle to the article influence score produced by eigenfactor.org using the ISI database. I found that these indicators were very volatile on a year to year basis for most of the journals in the sample above and so I'm not sure how useful they are.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Enhancements to Scopus

Elsevier have introduced some enhancements to Scopus, their citation index. I'll discuss a couple of these in future posts when I've learnt more about them.

Actually, these might be not new at all, but I only just noticed them. One is the ability to make RSS feeds from Scopus searches and also to embed them on webpages. I've embedded a search for the most recent papers citing my work on my citations page on my website. To do this you'll need to register for both a username and password for ScienceDirect/Scopus and for the feeds. They are two different usernames for some reason. Both are free assuming that you have institutional access to Scopus. Then you need to be logged into to Scopus and do a search. Click on the orange RSS button and then follow instructions to create an embedded code.*

I think it would be great for a department or school to embed a Scopus search of their latest publications on their homepage.

* For ANU users, yes you need to be on campus for this to work.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Castro e Silva and Teixeira

An interesting paper by Castro e Silva and Teixeira reviews the evolution of themes and types of papers in Ecological Economics over the first 20 years of its existence. The paper joins other bibliometric analyses of the journal including Luzadis et al. (2010), Costanza et al. (2004), and Ma and Stern (2006). Two of their main findings are that:
  • There has been an increase in the number of empirical papers over time together with a decline in formal and "appreciative" papers (these include "theoretical arguments, appreciations, [critique], and judgments").
  • There have been increases in the number of papers on valuation and most other substantive categories together with a decline in "theory-building" papers.
They also compare "seminal papers" with more than 100 citations to others. Theory building and global environmental issues papers are more represented among the highly cited papers.

Castro e Silva and Teixeira argue that these trends indicate that ecological economics is becoming a "post-normal" science. I don't think that the evidence presented says much about the post-normal aspect of ecological economics. I would argue that instead they show that it is becoming a normal science dominated more by empirical problem-solving and less by critiques of existing science and radical new theories.

Invited to Publish a Chapter in an In-Tech Book

Open Access chapters in books with pay to publish fees seems to be a new trend. I got an invite to contribute a chapter to a book published by In-Tech. The publication fee is Euro 590. The book is available for free online but a hardcopy is mailed to each author. What I found to be even weirder is this statement:

"To preserve the integrity of the review process the identity of the editor will be disclosed upon final chapter submission."

In most cases chapters in edited volumes get very few citations except in some cases of respected handbooks and the like (at least in economics). So there is no reason why I would do this, rather than send my paper to some low-end journal. But if this (open access) was done by a reputable press maybe book chapters would get more citations in future?

Visit these blogs for more info on In-Tech.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Links to Working Paper Versions

I've added links to working paper versions of my publications where those exist to me to publications pages. For the most recent publications that aren't yet in RePEc the main link is to the working paper. My older publications, of course, don't have online working paper versions and neither do most of my natural science publications.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


There is a global system for unique identification of electronic publications: DOI. But so far there is no unique system to identify researchers. Thompson/ISI has Researcher ID but it is dependent on authors registering themselves and is still of limited utility. Databases such as RePEc or SSRN use their own systems. The problem is that though there is only one published academic called D. I. Stern there are lots of people called David Stern or D. Stern. And I'm relatively lucky to have even one unique version of my name. Chinese names are particularly problematic given the high frequency of such names as Liu or Wang. Scopus has an author search system which is quite effective but still makes lots of mistakes in combining and splitting the contributions of different authors. They allow one to contribute corrections but this is again only as useful as Researcher ID in fixing the database. And all these systems are proprietary. Google Scholar has no such system.

So I was interested in hearing of the ORCID initiative to standardize electronic author attribution. One concern is that Google is not a participant. But otherwise this sounds promising.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The ANU Energy Change Institute Launches Website

The Energy Change Institute at the ANU is launching its website. As you can see from the website, the Institute brings together researchers from many different areas across the ANU from artificial photosynthesis to energy economics and policy and from enhanced oil and gas extraction to solar photovoltaics. Several of my colleagues in the Crawford School and Research School of Economics are involved.

Not only is the Institute aimed at fostering interdisciplinary collaboration across the ANU but it also is planning a strong educational program including professional short courses and a proposed masters by coursework. I am a member of the education committee, representing the energy economics, policy, and governance area. I am also developing a proposal for a course in my areas of research interest.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Landmark Papers Boost Citations of Authors' Existing Papers

In an article titled "How Citation Boosts Promote Scientific Paradigm Shifts and Nobel Prizes", Amin Mazloumian et al. analyse the citation records of 124 Nobel Prize winners of the last two decades. They find that following the publication of a landmark highly cited paper, the existing papers of these authors receive increased citations. This effect was stronger for the Nobelists than for a randomly chosen sample of published scientists. Of course, this is an example of Robert Merton's Matthew Effect. Here highly cited authors are more likely to be cited as support raising their citation counts further.