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CHEM 6611: Scientific Communication in Chemistry

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Evaluate Your Search Results

Evaluate Your Search Results

Scope of Your Topic (Quantitative Evaluation)

Make sure the number of results you use matches the purpose of your literature search. A thesis or dissertation literature review is based on a comprehensive search of multiple databases. For a short paper, a smaller list of highly targeted references is more appropriate.

  • If your searches return too many results, identify a subset of the topic as the focus of your assignment
  • If you are not finding enough literature to support your work, use a broader or less specific approach to your topic

Quality

By article

Use database citation search features to see if a paper is cited by other authors. Ideally, you can find articles which get cited in newer journal articles written by

  • A variety of authors
  • Authors from other labs and institutions
  • Experts on the broad or parent topic(s) of the article

You can also look at various metrics for assessing the impact of an article

By journal

Commonly used surrogates for journal quality include:

Only compare surrogate measures across journals covering the same discipline and sub-discipline. The 2019 JIF for Journal of the American Chemical Society (14.612) is much lower than the 2019 JIF for World Psychiatry (40.595), but JACS is clearly a much better chemistry journal! The median 2019 JIF for physical chemistry journals is slightly higher than the 2019 JIF for organic chemistry journals. but this does not mean physical chemistry journals are "better."

Problems with quality measures

  • Many metrics are not available if a journal is very new
  • Journal prestige can vary over time
  • "Review journals" (which publish mostly review articles) will typically have higher JIF rankings since review articles are usually heavily cited.
  • JIF values do not determine the quality of any particular article within a journal, and they do not predict whether a particular article will be heavily cited (or not)
  • Social factors affect citation counts