What kind of scientometrics and bibliometrics do we need in Poland? (in Polish)


  • Michał Kokowski Instytut Historii Nauki im. L. i A. Birkenmajerów PAN




scientometrics, bibliometrics, informetrics, methodology of scientometrics, abuses of scientometric methods, science of science, science policy, Polish and international context,


The aim of this research study and review article is to examine the scientific basis of scientometrics and bibliometrics, i.e. to show their real “detection and measurement” capabilities. The analysis is conducted from the author’s perspective of the integrated science of science and the history and methodology of the science of science following this perspective. Particular emphasis is placed on the history and methodology of scientometrics and bibliometrics and the history and methodology of science. This perspective is a new approach to the subject matter and determines a) how to select publications and their interpretations and b) which hierarchy the analyzed issues should follow.

The article describes the view, dominant both in the world and in Poland, on the basics of scientometrics and bibliometrics and their numerous serious scientific restrictions, such as: a) the incompatibility of the so‑called scientometric laws and the Garfield law of concentration with the empirical data; b) the domain bias, the language bias and the geographical bias of indexation databases; c) various practices of scientific communication; d) the local (national or state‑ level) orientation of humanities, social sciences and citation indexes; e) the disadvantages of the impact factor (IF), the manipulations with its values and the “impact factor game”; f) the numerous problems with and abuses of citations, e.g. the Mendel syndrome, the “classic” publication bias, the palimpsestic syndrome, the effect of the disappearance of citations, the so‑called Matthew effect, the theft of citations, the so‑called secondary and tertiary citations, negative citations, “fashionable nonsenses”, forced citations, the pathologies of the so‑ called citation cartels or cooperative citations, the guest authorship and the honorable authorship; g) the distinction between the “impact of publication” and the “importance of publication” or the “significance” of publication; h) the effectiveness of indexation of publications in electronic and Internet databases and the technological modernity of publications. The discovery of such restrictions regarding scientometrics and bibliometrics has led to the creation of, among others, biobibliometrics, alternative metrics (“altmetrics”) and the open science movement.

The analysis of this information results in a general conclusion that is relevant to the current scientific policy in Poland, i.e. it is necessary to resist the “tyranny of bibliometrics”, because it does not serve the development of science. As a consequence, the use of scientometric methods in evaluations of scientific activities should be limited, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.

The article also advocates for implementing the idea, considered as priority, of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, which is the promotion of the achievements of Polish humanities and social sciences at home and abroad. In order to achieve this aim, the following is proposed: a) developing the integrated science of science (as protection against the numerous errors of scientometrics and bibliometrics); b) expanding indexation databases of publications, digital libraries and digital repositories; c) intensifying the participation of Polish scientists in international research, including becoming actively involved in the international project aiming at building a European indexation database for humanities and social sciences, d) developing open access to scientific contents and e) modernizing Polish scientific journals and scientific publishing.

Author Biography

Michał Kokowski, Instytut Historii Nauki im. L. i A. Birkenmajerów PAN


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