New Webinar@AIMS: Under-representation of local needs in the global south in mainstream bibliographic databases. The case of rice research

Under-representation of local needs in the global south in mainstream bibliographic databases

Although the main bibliometric databases (Web of Science (WoS) and Scopus) claim to include journals on the basis of scientific and publication standards, there have long been concerns that its coverage is biased in favour of journals from industrialised countries and towards topics relevant to these countries. This webinar presents an investigation of this claim for research on rice, comparing the database CAB Abstracts with the mainstream databases. We find clear evidence that for a field such as rice, statistics based on WoS and Scopus strongly under-represent the scientific production by developing countries, and over-represent production by industrialised countries. More importantly, we also find a substantial bias in coverage of different research topics. The study suggests that statistics based on mainstream databases provide a significantly distorted view of the amount of research and diversity of agendas in most countries. Given that bibliometric statistics are often used for benchmarking and evaluation purposes, the database biases may translate into policy framings that undervalue domestic capabilities and research agendas more attuned to local needs in the global south.

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