You are here

Not long ago

Not long ago, even in developed countries it was difficult to have broad access to (printed) knowledge. When I was young in my birthplace in a small city of the North of Spain, I liked to spend spare time scanning the almost only source to universal knowledge available there, the Espasa, the world largest Encyclopedia. When I went to the University, there were small changes, as my target was Britannica, an encounter long time awaited. That granted me not only a new perspective, but also helped me to improve my English reading. Still today I am a big fan of the encyclopedias and enjoy clicking on the “random article” option of the Wikipedia.

During eighties I start to compile a small personal library and become an avid visitor of bookshops trying to fill gaps of the topics I was interested. This came abruptly to an end when I discovered first the Gopher and later the Web in the nineties. Suddenly you can have access to a large amount of information, more or less free, coming from every corner of the world. Hyperlinking offered also a completely revolutionary way to navigate this new sea of knowledge. Soon not only my personal interest but my professional career oriented to the Web.

In 1996 I introduced, at the EASST Conference at Bielefeld, invited by Paul Wouters, to a small group of attendees (later I discovered that one of them was Prof. Sylvan Katz) the idea of using links as citations to describing the academic web. This predates the seminal article of Brin & Lawrence that gives origin to the PageRank algorithm and then to Google. Neither this idea nor the name Cybermetrics were coined by me, but since then I strongly tried to consolidate this new discipline.

Quantitative analysis is not only the most powerful tool for describing scholarly communications through the Web but also very useful to make evaluation. Exploiting this possibility, my current research is to provide evidence on the capabilities of webometrics to describe the overall performance of academic institutions and scholars considering not only research output but the rest of their missions: teaching, divulgation, industry connections or community engagement among others.

“Web Publish or Perish” is the new slogan, but also a compelling reason for increasing the commitment to electronic publication, particularly in light of new Open Access initiatives. Not only a fashion. but a paradigm shift in the way scientists communicates their research results.

Not very surprisingly the Ranking Web of Universities is already strongly correlated with the other ones based on bibliometric data (ARWU, Shanghai Jiaotong University) or surveys (Times Higher Education/QS). Web indicators are useful for a wide diversity of tasks and they have an impact on scientometrics, with an important role played by several of my friends. Hildrun Kreschmer has published papers on the web visibility of cooperation and the gender factor in the academic web presence. In fact, we jointly published a couple of papers that actually predate the “altmetrics” manifiesto. Co-link methodologies have been explored by Liwen Vaughan. My colleague José Luis Ortega is applying these techniques to visualize the academic webspace. And Mike Thelwall is opening new doors every year.

I was born in the beautiful city of Haro (La Rioja), but living in Madrid now for more than 30 years. I am a former ornithologist, now a holiday birder and made many trips to observe birds in many close and remote places like the Amazon rainforest, the African savannahs, high mountains in Central Europe, the Argentine Chaco, the Cuban forests, the deserts of Namibia, Israel or the Australian Outback, among other destinations . My life-list includes more than 2,000 different species observed in nature.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer