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Lifting the fog of scientometric research artifacts: On the scientometric analysis of environmental tobacco smoke research



Previous analyses identified research on environmental tobacco smoke to be subject to strong fluctuations as measured by both quantitative and qualitative indicators. The evolution of search algorithms (based on the Web of Science and Web of Knowledge database platforms) was used to show the impact of errors of omission and commission in the outcomes of scientometric research. Optimization of the search algorithm led to the complete reassessment of previously published findings on the performance of environmental tobacco smoke research. Instead of strong continuous growth, the field of environmental tobacco smoke research was shown to experience stagnation or slow growth since mid-1990s when evaluated quantitatively. Qualitative analysis revealed steady but slow increase in the citation rate and decrease in uncitedness. Country analysis revealed the North-European countries as leaders in environmental tobacco smoke research (when the normalized results were evaluated both quantitatively and qualitatively), whereas the United States ranked first only when assessing the total number of papers produced. Scientometric research artifacts, including both errors of omission and commission, were shown to be capable of completely obscuring the real output of the chosen research field.