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The Temptations of Bibliometry: measure and excess

12 September 2004
Denise Pumain
Cet article est une traduction de :
Les tentations de la bibliométrie : mesure et démesure

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1Writing in order to be read, displaying oneself on the screen/canvas in order to be seen, and then measuring the size of one’s audience.  From now on, everything invites us to this attitude, to judge by the space given to the honours list of citations by the special edition of Papers in Regional Science, which in the beginning of 2004 celebrated the fiftieth year of this Association well-known to geographers, in addition to initiatives by the CNRS in France and by the European Foundation for Science in Europe to create a system of reference and evaluation of journals in order to give a better account of the present situation in the social sciences than the one given in the Philadelphia Citation Index.

2At this counting, Cybergeo comes behind no one.  Since the creation of the journal in 1996, more than 400 publications have been put online.  Over the past four years, the number of published articles has continued to increase (14 in 2001, 16 in 2002, 23 in 2003, and 31 for the first eight months of 2004).  All the columns in the journal are regularly supplied with material.  Cybergeo also hosts colloquia, with a considerable variety of themes on the list this year:  Scale and Territories, Urban Offerings and the Experience of Mobility, Management of Mountain Countryside for Durable Development, a seminar on water, and two international colloquia on Theoretical and Quantitative Geography.  The latest, and sometimes hottest, issues are discussed in ‘Hot Points’:  the enlargement of the European Union, new spatial practices in companies, the French elections, languages, the sciences and the market, etc...

3All in all, we have been ‘seen’ through 300,000 visits and ten million requests per year, which represents a doubling of the figures for 2002.  But...!!! the international public for journals is measured by the number of citations!  Duly counted by a private American organization, which is in no hurry to list European journals, even if they have a committee of readers and have gone to the trouble of translating their presentations into English, and even to publish in other languages!  Are we then going to contribute to this galloping inflation and ask our readers, our authors, not to forget to cite Cybergeo in their references?  Perhaps after all!  

4But we will ask all of them, members of the international editorial board, and faithful or occasional readers, to continue to keep a vigilant eye over the quality of the articles, the reliability of information, and the appropriate respect for antecedents, and to give us the benefit of their knowledge of the best work being done at the present time.  The maintenance of true scientific quality depends on this active participation of all of us.  It is a matter of seeing to it that, on the Internet as elsewhere, bad money doesn’t drive out the good.  Between the local individual and the global world, we need intermediate institutions.  Today anyone can publish his or her writings, as this other happy initiative of the CNRS proposes in the CCSD site (  But there will always be a need for collective enterprises like Cybergeo, and the work of evaluation by peers in a committee of readers—in sum, an intermediate structure—in order to give meaning and reference to this output.

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Denise Pumain, « The Temptations of Bibliometry: measure and excess », Cybergeo : European Journal of Geography [En ligne], Éditoriaux, mis en ligne le 12 septembre 2004, consulté le 22 juin 2018. URL :

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Denise Pumain

Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne,UMR Géographie-cités,

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