Beyond borders: Examining the role of national learned societies in the social sciences and humanities

Authors : Elina LateRaf GunsJanne PölönenJadranka StojanovskiMimi UrbancMichael Ochsner

The aim of this paper is to examine the status of national learned societies in social sciences and humanities (SSH) in Europe. Previous research shows that learned societies serve diverse roles in higher education and suggests that national societies come under pressure given different developments, such as internationalization or open science adoption.

We investigate a comprehensive range of aspects within national learned societies: primary goals, activities, internationalization, organization, funding, membership, and recent changes, addressing potential pressures arising from them. Using a cross-national survey involving 194 learned societies across eight European countries, we study: (a) do the previous findings from individual countries or small selections of national societies hold for a broad range of learned societies in SSH across Europe, and (b) are national learned societies coming under pressure due to internationalization and commercialization processes?

Our findings confirm previous results from single countries and single disciplines and expand them as our results show that national learned societies in SSH play an important role in Europe in promoting multilingualism in science, collaborating with many stakeholders, and fostering interdisciplinarity. Contrary to previous research, most SSH societies in our study have not undergone significant changes in the past 5 years, challenging expectations of their declining role.

URL : Beyond borders: Examining the role of national learned societies in the social sciences and humanities


The Uptake and Impact of a Label for Peer-Reviewed Books

Authors : Eline Vandewalle, Raf Guns, Tim C. E. Engels

This article presents an analysis of the uptake of the GPRC label (Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content label) since its introduction in 2010 until 2019. GPRC is a label for books that have been peer reviewed introduced by the Flemish publishers association.

The GPRC label allows locally published scholarly books to be included in the regional database for the Social Sciences and Humanities which is used in the Flemish performance-based research funding system. Ten years after the start of the GPRC label, this is the first systematic analysis of the uptake of the label.

We use a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods. Our two main data sources are the Flemish regional database for the Social Sciences and Humanities, which currently includes 2,580 GPRC-labeled publications, and three interviews with experts on the GPRC label. Firstly, we study the importance of the label in the Flemish performance-based research funding system.

Secondly, we analyse the label in terms of its possible effect on multilingualism and the local or international orientation of publications. Thirdly, we analyse to what extent the label has been used by the different disciplines.

Lastly, we discuss the potential implications of the label for the peer review process among book publishers. We find that the GPRC label is of limited importance to the Flemish performance-based research funding system.

However, we also conclude that the label has a specific use for locally oriented book publications and in particular for the discipline Law. Furthermore, by requiring publishers to adhere to a formalized peer review procedure, the label affects the peer review practices of local publishers because not all book publishers were using a formal system of peer review before the introduction of the label and even at those publishers who already practiced peer review, the label may have required the publishers to make these procedures more uniform.

URL : The Uptake and Impact of a Label for Peer-Reviewed Books


Tracing the context in disciplinary classifications: A bibliometric pairwise comparison of five classifications of journals in the social sciences and humanities

Authors : Linda Sīle, Raf Guns, Frédéric Vandermoere, Gunnar Sivertsen, Tim C. E. Engels

Despite the centrality of disciplinary classifications in bibliometric analyses, it is not well known how the choice of disciplinary classification influences bibliometric representations of research in the social sciences and humanities (SSH).

This is especially crucial when using data from national databases. Therefore, we examine the differences in the disciplinary profile of an article along with the absolute and relative number of articles across disciplines using five disciplinary classifications for journals. We use data on journal articles (2006–2015) from the national bibliographic databases VABB-SHW in Flanders (Belgium) and Cristin in Norway.

Our study is based on pairwise comparisons of the local classifications used in these databases, the Web of Science subject categories, the Science-Metrix, and the ERIH PLUS journal classifications.

For comparability, all classifications are mapped to the OECD Fields of Research and Development classification. The findings show that the choice of disciplinary classification can lead to over- or underestimation of the absolute number of publications per discipline.

In contrast, if the focus is on the relative numbers, the choice of classification has practically no influence. These findings facilitate an informed choice of a disciplinary classification for journals in SSH when using data from national databases.


Which aspects of the Open Science agenda are most relevant to scientometric research and publishing? An opinion paper

Authors : Lutz Bornmann, Raf Guns, Michael Thelwall, Dietmar Wolfram

Open Science is an umbrella term that encompasses many recommendations for possible changes in research practices, management, and publishing with the objective to increase transparency and accessibility.

This has become an important science policy issue that all disciplines should consider. Many Open Science recommendations may be valuable for the further development of research and publishing but not all are relevant to all fields.

This opinion paper considers the aspects of Open Science that are most relevant for scientometricians, discussing how they can be usefully applied.


Open access at the national level: A comprehensive analysis of publications by Finnish researchers

Authors : Janne Pölönen, Mikael Laakso, Raf Guns, Emanuel Kulczycki, Gunnar Sivertsen

Open access (OA) has mostly been studied by relying on publication data from selective international databases, notably Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus.

The aim of our study is to show that it is possible to achieve a national estimate of the number and share of OA based on institutional publication data providing a comprehensive coverage of the peer-reviewed outputs across fields, publication types, and languages.

Our data consists of 48,177 journal, conference, and book publications from 14 Finnish universities in 2016–2017, including information about OA status, as self-reported by researchers and validated by data-collection personnel through their Current Research Information System (CRIS).

We investigate the WoS, Scopus, and DOI coverage, as well as the share of OA outputs between different fields, publication types, languages, OA mechanisms (gold, hybrid, and green), and OA information sources (DOAJ, Bielefeld list, and Sherpa/Romeo).

We also estimate the role of the largest international commercial publishers compared to the not-for-profit Finnish national publishers of journals and books.

We conclude that institutional data, integrated at national and international level, provides one of the building blocks of a large-scale data infrastructure needed for comprehensive assessment and monitoring of OA across countries, for example at the European level.