Reflections about Garfield’s algorithm


  • Laura Sinay Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro
  • Maria Cristina Fogliatti de Sinay Universidade do Grande Rio
  • Rodney William University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Aurea Martins Universidade do Grande Rio



Science, Garfield’s algorithm, Logic behind the algorithm of science, Reflection and critical study


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to critically analyze the influence of the algorithm used on scholarly search engines (Garfield’s algorithm) and propose metrics to improve it so that science could be based on a more democratic way. Design/methodology/approach – This paper used a snow-ball approach to collect data that allowed identifying the history and the logic behind the Garfield’s algorithm. It follows on excerpting the foundation of existing algorithm and databases of major scholarly search engine. It concluded proposing new metrics so as to surpass restraints and to democratize the scientific discourse. Findings – This paper finds that the studied algorithm currently biases the scientific discourse toward a narrow perspective, while it should take into consideration several researchers’ characteristics. It proposes the substitution of the h-index by the number of times the scholar’s most cited work has been cited. Finally, it proposes that works in languages different than English should be included. Research limitations/implications – The broad comprehension of any phenomena should be based on multiple perspectives; therefore, the inclusion of diverse metrics will extend the scientific discourse. Practical implications – The improvement of the existing algorithm will increase the chances of contact among different cultures, which stimulate rapid progress on the development of knowledge. Originality/value – The value of this paper residesin demonstrating that the algorithm usedin scholarly search engines biases the development of science. If updated as proposed here, science will be unbiased and bias aware.


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