, Volume 101, Issue 2, pp 1195–1213

Which role do non-source items play in the social sciences? A case study in political science in Germany


DOI: 10.1007/s11192-014-1433-1

Cite this article as:
Chi, PS. Scientometrics (2014) 101: 1195. doi:10.1007/s11192-014-1433-1


Publications that are not indexed by citation indices such as Web of Science (WoS) or Scopus are called “non-source items”. These have so far been neglected by most bibliometric analyses. The central issue of this study is to investigate the characteristics of non-source items and the effect of their inclusion in bibliometric evaluations in the social sciences, specifically German political science publications. The results of this study show that non-source items significantly increase the number of publications (+1,350 %) and to a lesser extent the number of citations from SCIE, SSCI, and A&HCI (+150 %) for evaluated political scientists. 42 % of non-source items are published as book chapters.Edited books and books are cited the most among non-source items. About 40 % of non-source items are in English, while 80 % of source items are in English. The citation rates of researchers taking non-source items into account are lower than those from source items, partially as a result of the limited coverage of WoS. In contrast, the H-indices of researchers taking only non-source items into account are higher than those from source items. In short, the results of this study show that non-source items should be included in bibliometric evaluations, regardless of their impact or the citations from them. The demand for a more comprehensive coverage of bibliometric database in the social sciences for a higher quality of evaluations is shown.


Non-source items Social sciences Publication patterns Research evaluation Political science 

Mathematics Subject Classification

01 94 

JEL Classification


Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Research Information and Quality AssuranceBerlinGermany

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