The staff of the St Petersburg University Scientific Library have been working to increase the number of University members registered in the RSCI and Science Index. During the last six months it has increased by one third to 5,039. There have also been associated increases in the number of publications registered in the RSCI from 84,600 to 98,900, and cited works published by University members from 299,000 to 411,000.

A St Petersburg University associate professor had been publishing papers in the Pravovedenie scholarly journal. In April 2015, she informed the University administration that her papers had not been registered by the Russian Science Citation Index database (RSCI). She checked whether the Index registered the publications written by her Department colleagues. Her Faculty came to the conclusion that there was a system error. Similar requests concerning errors in the registration of publications in the RSCI had occasionally been submitted previously to the University’s personnel department. They were connected with applications to competitions for filling academic positions. However, the issues had been solved on a case-by-case basis. The request from the associate professor of the Law Faculty, however, concerned the existence of a system error.

The problem

According to the Director of the St Petersburg University  Scientific Library M. Karpova, “The Russian Science Citation Index was created in 2005 on the platform of the Scientific Electronic Library eLIBRARY.RU. It covers over 5,000 Russian academic and scientific journals. The RSCI also draws reference and citation information about publications of Russian authors from the Scopus database. Using the information from the publications, the RSCI links the academic papers to the profile of a particular author and the organisation specified by the author as his or her place of work. When an academic or scientific publication is indexed, the list of works cited in the publication is also analysed. Each reference is linked to a specific paper if this paper is registered in the RSCI.” As of April 2015, 3,899 members of the University were registered in the RSCI and the Science Index System for authors. This included University staff, University employees, and students.  

Experience shows that errors sometimes occur during the indexing process when papers are linked to author profiles or organisations, and when citations are linked to specific papers. Such errors appear when: names of organisations are written incorrectly; reference lists contain errors or inaccuracies; and the names of Russian authors or colleges and universities are transliterated differently for foreign-language publications. Errors can also occur when publications are linked to profiles of authors bearing the same family names.

These errors may occur in any citation index. In order to correct them, special systems of author registration are created such as: the Science Index for authors within the RSCI; ResearcherID for the Web of Science; and the ORCID system for identification of scientific and other academic authors. There are also various feedback and analysis services for authors and organisations, in particular: the Science Index for organisations within the RSCI; and Systems of authors registration.

The solution

Following the decision of the Rector of St Petersburg University, the “correction of errors” was carried out to cover both the Science Index for authors and also the Science Index for organisations. The Science Index System for authors was launched by the RCSI several years ago. It is designed to create the author’s profile (see Personal profile of the author). After registering, the authors have the option to review and update the list of their publications and citations. They can delete publications and citations of their namesakes that have been linked to their profile by mistake. They can also add their publications that for some reason have not been previously linked to their profile as well as the references to them. Moreover, the authors can specify the organisation that they have indicated as their place of work if the system has failed to detect it automatically.

“Registration in the Science Index for authors can be performed only by the authors themselves. It requires time and effort,” M. Karpova explained. “There is also a considerable advantage. The list of authors includes University employees and students with information on the start/finish dates of their work or study at St Petersburg University. They have access to full texts of all journals indexed in the RSCI and signed by the University. The majority of electronic resources signed by the University is through the EZProxy system on the webpage of the Maxim Gorky Scientific Library. It can also be through any online search query.”

Members of the University academic staff need to register and revise personal details in the RSCI author’s profile. They are reminded regularly about this at seminars, training sessions on the use of electronic resources, and in internal University documents. Personnel department staff also regularly remind the academic staff that each author of a publication needs to be registered in the Science Index System. Each author should also verify the information on his or her publications in journals registered in the RSCI and references to these publications. If necessary, they should seek assistance from the University staff responsible for working with the Science Index for organisations. These responsibilities have recently been entered into the employment contracts of the University academic staff members. However, many are not yet accustomed to performing these duties. They think about the need to register their publications only when applying for the competition to fill the academic position…

As a result of the “awareness-raising” efforts, more than a thousand University members registered in the Science Index System for authors in 2015. As of 28 December 2015, there were 10,500 authors who had since the 1950s cited St Petersburg University as their place of work or study in their publications. 5,039 of them were registered in the Science Index for authors (i.e. have a SPIN-code). The dynamics of University members registering in the Science Index during 2015 was: 3,899 in April; 4,289 in September; and 5,039 at the end of December.

Both the authors and Library staff have put effort into identifying publications of the University members registered in the RSCI and correctly linking these publications to the University. They used the Science Index for organisations, which is a service designed both for analysing publications of an organisation and for correcting errors in linking citations to papers. It also registers those publications of the University authors which have not been included in the RSCI for one reason or another (see Information and services for organisations). However, this can only be done for those authors who were included in the list of St Petersburg University authors during the registration. In order to use both features (analysis and error correction), the Science Index System generates the organisation’s structure and the list of its authors, with information on the start/finish date of employment, the exact place of work, and the job title of each author. Staff from the personnel department and the University Academic Affairs Department have helped the Library staff to identify authors who are currently working and studying at St Petersburg University.

The Science Index for organisations was launched by the RSCI at the end of 2013. St Petersburg University has worked under a license agreement authorising the use of this system since early 2014. The work has included verification and correction of lists of publications and citations of University authors. Since the end of 2013, authorised users have added more than 8,000 new descriptions of papers, monographs, and chapters in monographs. They have also reviewed and amended about 13,000 existing descriptions by identifying the affiliation, and linking the citations. During this time, the increase in the number of publications in the RSCI was from 67,000 to 98,900, and the number of citations of the University members’ works has increased from 232,000 to 411,000.

The proportion of St Petersburg University authors registered in the Science Index is almost twice as large as Moscow State University (46% against 24%). The rate of change for this indicator is also almost twice higher. This suggests that St Petersburg University works more actively to register authors. We get a similar result if we analyse the average number of publications for each author (9.3 against 7.6). This also indicates a positive impact of working with the Science Index for organisations that represent University publications in the RSCI.

This work is very labour-intensive. The average time needed to register a new description is approximately 0.3-0.5 hours; while the time needed to introduce changes in a description requires 0.3-0.25 hours. This does not seem much... However, according to the Director of the Research Library, about 1,038 working days have been spent on working with the Science Index for organisations since the beginning of the effort. The average workload per authorised user for the 2014-2015 period amounted to 48 working days. This is approximately 1/5 of the total annual working time on a 40-hour workweek basis!

It is difficult to assess the financial costs because the Scientific Library staff have been performing this work “to answer the call” of their organisation. They understand the importance of the task, and have to plan their working day more efficiently. The authorised users from other schools and departments of the University started this work in 2014 as volunteers, also understanding the importance of the task. The amount of work varies depending on the number of authors and publications in a particular school or department.

 

The prospects

The standard report on the publication activity of an organisation is automatically generated by the RSCI. It shows that there are now 10,532 authors who have registered in the Science Index System for authors and indicated their affiliation with St Petersburg University in their publications, or specified St Petersburg University as their place of work or study. As of 28 December 2015, there were 7,294 authors with publications for the period from 2010 to 2014. Out of those, only 5,039 authors were registered in the Science Index for authors (see Analysis of the St Petersburg University research publication activity). The total number of authors is constantly increasing due to the appearance of new authors from among undergraduate and graduate students. There are also new St Petersburg University staff, who begin to cite St Petersburg University as their place of work.

In order to adequately reflect the St Petersburg University publication activity in the RSCI, all authors currently working in the University need to get registered in the Science Index for authors (i.e. get a SPIN-code). They should also be included in the list of authors in the Science Index for organisations. Detailed instructions for authors can be found on the Scientific Library webpage of the St Petersburg University Internet portal: Registration of authors in the Science Index [Author] of the Russian Science Citation Index (RSCI) for obtaining a SPIN-code. M. Karpova stated that “There are some St Petersburg University faculties and schools where more than 90% of authors are registered in the Science Index. These include: the Graduate School of Management; the Institute of History; the Faculties of Arts, International Relations, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies; and the Faculty of Law. However, there are also those where less than 70% of the authors included in the list are registered in the Science Index. These include: the Faculty of Oriental Studies; the Faculty of Physics; and the Institute of Chemistry.”

Information about publications and their citations registered in the RSCI is used in: various reports submitted to higher government and statistical authorities; in applications for grants; and for the establishment of dissertation councils. The information is normally provided for the last 3-5 years. It is therefore highly important that the list of the staff members of the organisation should include the maximum possible number of authors from among its students and employees who have had publications in recent years.

It is not possible to directly monitor or control the independent activity of St Petersburg University authors in the Science Index system. It is a question of self-control and fulfilment of responsibilities specified in the employment agreement. M. Karpova suggests that “Apart from the requirement to register in the systems of author identification (and to provide the SPIN-code as proof of registration), the employment agreements with University staff should contain the responsibility to update (edit) the author’s profile on a quarterly basis.”

There are other possible “levers”. Starting from 2015, salary supplements paid to the University members for academic publications have been calculated on the basis of the information directly retrieved from the Web of Science Core Collection and Scopus. It uses information on IDs provided by academic staff to the personnel department (see Minutes of the Rector’s Meeting held on 25 January 2016, clause 6). It would also be possible to take into account regular work in the Science Index for authors when making a decision on sending a particular staff member to a conference or a training visit or when awarding a research grant.

The University has designated staff members authorised to work with the Science Index for organisations. These authorised users include: Scientific Library staff reporting to its Director; and University academic staff who have volunteered to update and verify the information on publications of their friends and colleagues. The list of authorised users can be found on the Scientific Library webpage of the St Petersburg University portal: Individuals responsible for work in the Science Index for organisations.

Evgeny GOLUBEV