Measuring the Value of Research Data: A Citation Analysis of Oceanographic Data Sets

Published on Mar 26, 2014in PLOS ONE2.78
· DOI :10.1371/journal.pone.0092590
Christopher W. Belter5
Estimated H-index: 5
(NOAA: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Evaluation of scientific research is becoming increasingly reliant on publication-based bibliometric indicators, which may result in the devaluation of other scientific activities - such as data curation – that do not necessarily result in the production of scientific publications. This issue may undermine the movement to openly share and cite data sets in scientific publications because researchers are unlikely to devote the effort necessary to curate their research data if they are unlikely to receive credit for doing so. This analysis attempts to demonstrate the bibliometric impact of properly curated and openly accessible data sets by attempting to generate citation counts for three data sets archived at the National Oceanographic Data Center. My findings suggest that all three data sets are highly cited, with estimated citation counts in most cases higher than 99% of all the journal articles published in Oceanography during the same years. I also find that methods of citing and referring to these data sets in scientific publications are highly inconsistent, despite the fact that a formal citation format is suggested for each data set. These findings have important implications for developing a data citation format, encouraging researchers to properly curate their research data, and evaluating the bibliometric impact of individuals and institutions.
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