More than a hundred of our recent titles are now part of the Thomson Reuters Book Citation Index. As the “Thomson Reuters” part of that name implies, this is a commercial service, a large resource which has taken considerable investment to set up. The Science end has been flourishing for some years, and Humanities are coming next, concentrating mainly on output from 2005 to the present.
We’re very pleased to have so many of our books chosen for early inclusion, and to have the research of our authors recorded by the Index. You can see it in action at this slideshow-and-voiceover tutorial. (This is hosted at www.brainshark.com, a name I find a bit alarming. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think “brain” and “shark” go together as well as “legenda” and “books”. Unless the idea is that our brains hark.)
The Index is a semantic-web approach to the problem of keeping track of how scholarly authors cite each other. It provides hard numbers on how collaborative scholarship really is, and which books change the world. You have to take those numbers with a pinch of salt – the Index measures lip service (i.e., citation), not genuine engagement – but it gives us a massive data set which we couldn’t possibly have assembled thirty years ago. It also makes online tools better for academics: it means search engines which understand our domain better, and it helps citation tools such as Endnote. Like Google Books, the Book Citation Index makes the difference between paper and Internet publication a little blurry. Every printed footnote will be a link some day.
We see all of this as very positive, and hope to participate further. For further details, here’s our press release announcing the news.