On the use of databases about research performance: comments on Karlovčec and Mladenić (2015) and others using the SICRIS database
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The accuracy of interdisciplinarity measurements depends on how well the data is used for this purpose and whether it can meaningfully inform about work that crosses disciplinary domains. At present, there are no ad hoc databases compiling information only and exclusively about interdisciplinary research, and those interested in assessing it have to reach out to existing databases that have been compiled for other purposes. Karlovčec and Mladenić (Scientometrics 102:433–454, 2015) saw an opportunity in a national database that brings together information meant to be used for assessing the scientific performance of the Slovene academic community, which they used to obtain information that was then applied to measure interdisciplinarity. However, the context and purpose for which databases are produced have certain implications on their use. In their study, the authors overlooked the social and political context within which that specific database was created, is maintained and is used for (evaluation of research performance). This resulted in an incomplete interpretation of the results obtained and description of the current situation. This commentary addresses two aspects that warrant further consideration: one pertains to the limitations of the dataset itself and the measures used to debunk these, while the second pertains to the line of reasoning behind the integration and use of IDR measures in this study.
KeywordsInterdisciplinarity Measurements of interdisciplinarity SICRIS Scientific collaborations Policy tools Research evaluation
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