May 19, 2022

Research Preprint: “The Prevalence and Impact of University Affiliation Discrepancies Between Four Well-Known Bibliometric Databases”

The article (preprint) linked to below was recently shared on arXiv.


The Prevalence and Impact of University Affiliation Discrepancies Between Four Well-Known Bibliometric Databases


Philip J. Purnell
Leiden University


via arxiv


Research managers benchmarking universities against international peers face the problem of affiliation disambiguation. Different databases have taken separate approaches to this problem and discrepancies exist between them. Bibliometric data sources typically conduct a disambiguation process that unifies variant institutional names and those of its sub-units so that researchers can then search all records from that institution using a single unified name.

Source: arXiv:2107.04887

This study examined affiliation discrepancies between Scopus, Web of Science, Dimensions, and Microsoft Academic for 18 Arab universities over a five-year period. We confirmed that digital object identifiers (DOIs) are suitable for extracting comparable scholarly material across databases and quantified the affiliation discrepancies between them. A substantial share of records assigned to the selected universities in any one database were not assigned to the same university in another. The share of discrepancy was higher in the larger databases, Dimensions and Microsoft Academic. The smaller, more selective databases, Scopus and especially Web of Science tended to agree to a greater degree with affiliations in the other databases. Manual examination of affiliation discrepancies showed they were caused by a mixture of missing affiliations, unification differences, and assignation of records to the wrong institution. 

Direct to Full Text Article
40 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.