Neurol India Home 

Year : 2016  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1399--1400

Author's reply: Cited heavily, taken lightly, matters hardly: What constitutes “Best science?”

Paritosh Pandey1, Venkatesan Subeikshanan2, Venkatesh S Madhugiri3,  
1 Department of Neurosurgery, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 MBBS Student, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
3 Division of Neurosurgery, Tata Memorial Center, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Paritosh Pandey
Department of Neurosurgery, Manipal Hospital, Bengaluru, Karnataka

How to cite this article:
Pandey P, Subeikshanan V, Madhugiri VS. Author's reply: Cited heavily, taken lightly, matters hardly: What constitutes “Best science?”.Neurol India 2016;64:1399-1400

How to cite this URL:
Pandey P, Subeikshanan V, Madhugiri VS. Author's reply: Cited heavily, taken lightly, matters hardly: What constitutes “Best science?”. Neurol India [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Sep 23 ];64:1399-1400
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We thank Vilanilam et al., for their detailed and insightful analysis of the utility of citation metrics in response to our paper on highly cited papers published in Neurology India.[1] The aims of this analysis were to highlight the “best science” published over the years in Neurology India, to trace the origins of these papers, to describe the subjects they pertain to, and to assess the types of papers that receive the most visibility. This, we believed, would provide a reasonable view of the best clinical neuroscience papers originating from India.

There are several caveats to this study, as we have already detailed in the paper.[1] The most important is the fact that many of the neuroscience papers originating from India may actually be published in international journals and not in Neurology India. We readily admit to this issue and point out that the data presented in our paper details the best of the papers published in Neurology India.

The second issue is that of which metric forms the best yardstick to measure the usefulness of a paper. We entirely concur with Vilanilam et al., that citation metrics is not the best technique to measure the impact of a paper but it is the most easily quantifiable one. We readily admit that citation metrics is fraught with several shortcomings, and have also mentioned this in our paper.

The total volume of citations is indeed low in Neurosurgery vis a vis other scientific disciplines. This creates issues when the impact of individual papers or journals is being compared across fields. We have previously described an interfield citation metric in an attempt to overcome these field-specific citation practices.[2] This metric overcomes the issue of varying citation volumes across scientific disciplines to a certain extent.

In a previous analysis, we have described that the average age of cited papers in neurosurgical literature is 8 years (median) and the time taken by a paper to reach its highest cited state is 6.25 years after publication.[2] In order to compensate for this time lag in the rise of citations accruing to a paper, raw citations were normalized to the age of the paper and the citations-per-year metric was generated. However, given that we do not have robust data regarding the rate of rise of citations, we concede that this metric only partly compensates for the late rise in citations.

Altmetrics are an attractive set of metrics based on social media platforms that measure the impact of a paper on users of that platform. Opinion is divided as to whether altmetric parameters correlate well with conventional metrics (such as citation metrics). There is data that finds good correlation between altmetrics and citation metrics as well as data that detracts from such a correlation.[3],[4] These metrics have not been entirely standardized. However, we are of the opinion that most future analyses of published data would almost certainly include altmetrics.

We believe that the disquisition by Vilanilam et al., adds to the value of the data we have published and highlights the perils of blindly using citation metrics and impact factor to gauge the value of a paper or a journal. We have always averred that citation metrics is but one yardstick that can be used to measure this.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1Pandey P, Subeikshanan V, Madhugiri VS. Highest cited papers published in Neurology India: An analysis for the years 1993-2014. Neurol India 2016;64:703-21.
2Madhugiri VS, Sasidharan GM, Subeikshanan V, Dutt A, Ambekar S, Strom SF. An analysis of the citation climate in neurosurgical literature and description of an interfield citation metric. Neurosurgery 2015;76:505-12; discussion 513.
3Moore A. Altmetrics: Just measuring the “buzz”? Bioessays 2016;38:713.
4Scotti V, De Silvestri A, Scudeller L, Abele P, Topuz F, Curti M. Novel bibliometric scores for evaluating research quality and output: A correlation study with established indexes. Int J Biol Markers 2016; Jun 8:0. doi: 10.5301/jbm.5000217.