Terje Tüür-Fröhlich: The Non-trivial Effects of Trivial Errors in Scientific Communication and Evaluation, Glückstadt: Hülsbusch, 2016

Ghoneim, Andrea Terje Tüür-Fröhlich: The Non-trivial Effects of Trivial Errors in Scientific Communication and Evaluation, Glückstadt: Hülsbusch, 2016., 2018 [Review]

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English abstract

Unreserved criticism and learning from mistakes is, according to Karl Popper, part of the scientific discourse required to ensure scientific endeavour. The trend towards automated data analysis seems to take this requirement into account. However, what is the case if the results of the data analytics rely on automated data collection which is riddled with trivial errors? Terje Tüür-Fröhlich pursues this question in her dissertation, which has now been published in the series "Schriften zur Informationswissenschaft" published by the Hochschulverband für Informationswissenschaft (HI). On the basis of thorough and systematic literature research, Tüür-Fröhlich documents each step of her research. In a separate chapter, she gives valuable insight into the genesis of Citation Indexing on the basis of a content analysis of the correspondence between Joshua Lederberg and Eugene Garfield. Using case study as method, the author highlights the effects of "not deleted, not shared or retracted errors", which not only determine the careers of scientists, but also the scientific communication and evaluation of results. For this detailed study, which is the bulk of the work discussed here, the author focuses on the Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) of the database provider Thomson Reuters. Tüür-Fröhlich admitted the research was limited due to the data access restriction which is more than ever dependent on an institutional affiliation. The results are presented as qualitative and quantitative case studies.The core of the investigation, which is based on innovative methods like "ping-pong method" and „chain referral sampling“ for "Pierre Bourdieu", lead to n = 85 mutated name variants and missings for Pierre Bourdieu in the SSCI. The case studies read like a mix of detective novel and science fiction. The works of one author contain error phenomena for which Tüür-Fröhlich develops her own terminology. Examples are "UBO" for "unidentifiable bibliographic object" or "Zombie References", which are explained in a chapter heading as "Anything Is Wrong But Something Has Been Indexed". The conclusions of the study clearly state that all these "trivial" mistakes distort the citation counting and thus affect the impact factor - this not only applies to the authors, but also to their institutions, research fields and countries. Summarising, this book clearly shows how urgently qualitative methods are needed - at least in the evaluation of scientific performance as well as in science itself - as a supplement to quantitative methods. Some of the errors analysed are beyond the scope of quantitative research, which in addition does not take into account the genesis of the errors - and thus does not contribute to minimizing errors. The present book is highly recommended for data scientists, librarians and provides good impulses for a critical examination for database research and scientific knowledge processes.

German abstract

Lernen aus Fehlern ist nach Karl Popper erforderlich, um wissenschaftlichen Fortschritt zu gewährleisten. Automatisierte Datenanalysen scheinen dieser Forderung Rechnung zu tragen. Wie aber sind die Ergebnisse von Analysen, wenn sie auf automatisierter Datenerfassung beruhen, die mit trivialen Fehlern gespickt ist? Dieser Frage geht Terje Tüür-Fröhlich nach. Anhand von Fallstudien zeigt die Autorin Auswirkungen von „not deleted, not publicly eliminated or retracted errors“ auf. Für diese Untersuchung fokussiert die Autorin auf den Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) und beginnt mit einer Recherche nach „Pierre Bourdieu“. Mit der „Ping-Pong Method“ findet sie „n=85 mutated name variants and missings for Pierre Bourdieu“ im SSCI (S. 52 f.). Auf Basis eines „Snowball sampling“ bzw. „chain referral sampling“ untersucht sie dann die SSCI-Einträge mit den cited references „PIERRE B“ oder „PIERRI B“ (beide stehen für Pierre Bourdieu). Diese SSCI-records enthalten Fehler-Phänomene, für die Tüür-Fröhlich eine eigene Terminologie entwickelt, z.B. „UBO“ für „unidentifiable bibliographic object“ oder „Zombie References“ („Anything Is Wrong But Something Has Been Indexed“). Schon die Pioniere des kommerziellen Citation Indexing kannten die Probleme mit unterschiedlichen Sprachen und Gepflogenheiten für Quellenangaben. Doch “severe missings / mutations / mutilations and phantom authors / works / references ... due to OCR and text parsing programs [...]” sind noch immer offensichtlich. Tüür-Fröhlich zeigt deutlich, wie dringend qualitative Methoden zumindest als Ergänzung zu quantitativen Methoden benötigt werden.

Item type: Review
Keywords: Scientometrics Citation Indexing Science Studies Philosophy of Science Information Ethics Error Ethics Errors Typos Pierre Bourdieu
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information > BA. Use and impact of information.
B. Information use and sociology of information > BB. Bibliometric methods
Depositing user: BA. Ingrid Ott
Date deposited: 14 Jun 2018 16:46
Last modified: 14 Jun 2018 16:46
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10760/32978


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