Ranking by Relevance and Citation Counts, a Comparative Study: Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, WoS and Scopus
Future Internet 2019, 11(9), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/fi11090202 (registering DOI) - 19 Sep 2019
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Search engine optimization (SEO) constitutes the set of methods designed to increase the visibility of, and the number of visits to, a web page by means of its ranking on the search engine results pages. Recently, SEO has also been applied to academic
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Search engine optimization (SEO) constitutes the set of methods designed to increase the visibility of, and the number of visits to, a web page by means of its ranking on the search engine results pages. Recently, SEO has also been applied to academic databases and search engines, in a trend that is in constant growth. This new approach, known as academic SEO (ASEO), has generated a field of study with considerable future growth potential due to the impact of open science. The study reported here forms part of this new field of analysis. The ranking of results is a key aspect in any information system since it determines the way in which these results are presented to the user. The aim of this study is to analyze and compare the relevance ranking algorithms employed by various academic platforms to identify the importance of citations received in their algorithms. Specifically, we analyze two search engines and two bibliographic databases: Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic, on the one hand, and Web of Science and Scopus, on the other. A reverse engineering methodology is employed based on the statistical analysis of Spearman’s correlation coefficients. The results indicate that the ranking algorithms used by Google Scholar and Microsoft are the two that are most heavily influenced by citations received. Indeed, citation counts are clearly the main SEO factor in these academic search engines. An unexpected finding is that, at certain points in time, Web of Science (WoS) used citations received as a key ranking factor, despite the fact that WoS support documents claim this factor does not intervene.