‘The application process for the Ulam NAWA Programme itself is really good,’ asserts Zehra Taşkın, a NAWA fellowship holder under the Ulam NAWA Programme.
For almost a decade at Hacettepe University (Turkey), she has studied researcher performance evaluations, bibliometrics, data visualisation and scholarly communication. But to design a new system, Taşkın chose Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, where she is a visiting scientist and NAWA fellowship holder under the Ulam NAWA Programme.
NAWA: What is the problem with the current method of evaluating scientific publications?
Zehra Taşkın: Policymakers use citation indexes to evaluate researchers, but there are data quality issues. They use numbers provided by these indexes, but the meanings of the numbers are different for each person in academia. For example, I work in the social sciences and it is impossible to compare my scholarly outputs to the outputs of medical science researchers, but most of the systems we have today claim that everyone in academia is equal.
Why is this wrong?
Because the publication and citation potentials of each scientific field are different. Scholars working in the medical sciences have more journal alternatives in their fields; they have the possibility to publish more papers, and can get more citations of their papers. The social sciences are a completely different story. I can give examples using my own research. I work in a relatively small field of social sciences: Library and Information Science. This field has different subfields covering librarianship studies, scientometrics, management and information sciences and health information. I am working for scientometrics and this provides me with the opportunity to publish English-language publications in prestigious international journals, however, some of my colleagues, who deal with narrower subfields like library history of Turkey, can only publish in Turkish language journals. My aim is to prove that all fields, subjects, publications and citations are not equal. The whole system must change. We should care about quality, not quantity..
So, you want to change the system, but why did you choose Poland as the place to do it?
I chose Adam Mickiewicz University because, at this university, there is a really important research group headed by Emanuel Kulczycki. I was one of the followers of his studies and projects on research evaluation before I came to Poznań. Kulczycki's team has a very good network and connections in my field. I knew I wanted to go to Poznań because if I want to change something, I have to be in a good and effective research group. When I saw that Emanuel Kulczycki was looking for a new member for his research group on Twitter, I contacted him and applied for the Ulam Programme.
How can the project you are doing at Adam Mickiewicz University help you achieve your aim?
The main aim of my project is to develop a content-based citation analysis system for English and Polish library and information science citations using semantic and syntactic structures. It will help to classify citations in terms of their meanings, purposes, shapes and arrays. With my project, it will be possible to understand the citation motivations of authors who cite each other. In addition, I hope I will be able to propose an alternative solution to database producers to change their methods. I am very happy to announce that the first publication based on my project was accepted to Scientometrics journal in November 2020. I hope to publish more good papers related to my project.
What does your daily work in Poznań look like?
I came to Poznań with my family in November 2019 and 4 months later, the world was facing COVID-19. Since then, I have often been working from home. Fortunately, I am doing my research using computer science techniques, so I don't need a special office or laboratory, etc. But, I should add that I have a really good office at Adam Mickiewicz University. In addition, I have access to all the databases I need through the university. Most importantly, here in Poznań, I have the opportunity to work with experts in my field. In our research group, we have been organising great weekly seminars to discuss how to analyse data, how to do research, what others do in our field, what are the current research subjects, etc.
Also, the people here are helpful and super nice. They helped me a lot to organise everything in my daily life, including finding a school for my 10-year old son and making the right choices.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to apply for the Ulam NAWA Programme?
They should first find a good place to work. It could be a research group or institute. They should follow their studies and think about what they can add to the work being done and what value the research group can bring to their research. The application process itself is really good. I really like it as a scholar working for research evaluations, because NAWA asked me for my top 10 papers in the last few years during the application process. It's a great approach to publications because they were interested in my top publications, not just how many of them there were.
Thank you for your time.
Zehra Taşkın is visiting professor at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań within the Scholarly Communication Research Group (Poland). Her main research interests are research/er performance evaluations, bibliometrics, data visualisation, research data management, scholarly communication and social network analyses. She designed a content-based citation analysis model for the Turkish language and is involved in various national and international projects, including at the NASA Astrobiology Institute and Tokyo Institute of Technology, TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and the Libraries for Everyone project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Currently, she is working for a project entitled “Creating a content-based citation analysis system for English and Polish” funded by NAWA Poland’s Ulam NAWA Programme.