Recap of Bibliometrics & Research Assessment Symposium

Last week I attended Bibliometrics & Research Assessment: A Symposium for Librarians and Information Professionals, which was jointly organized by the National Institutes of Health Library and the SLA Maryland Chapter. Side note: I’m really impressed by whoever designed the logo for the banner and handouts.

There were a number of people tweeting throughout the event using #bibliometrics or #nihbibres16. Here’s my complete list of tweets, but major takeaways include:

Keynote addresses are archived for both Ludo Waltman (video; slides) and Katy Börner (video; slides), and available as tweets (thanks to PF Anderson for compilation). They’re both definitely worth watching if you have a couple hours to focus on bibliometrics and data visualization.

The poster session was a great opportunity to see what others in the same line of work are doing. Unfortunately, posters are not yet available online, but here’s the handout with the titles and authors. It was announced later that they will be collecting them after the symposium.


[2016/12/1] Update: Posters are up on the SLA Maryland Chapter’s website!

Takeaways from the afternoon discussion:

  • There are a lot of tools out there! Notable mentions: Sci2, Tableau, Cytoscape, Pajek, IN-SPIRE, BibXL, NodeXL, D3.js, histcite, R, Python, VOS Viewer
  • For cleaning data, OpenRefine is great for author or organization names. Gephi can also be used to clean but it’s more time consuming. VantagePoint, while not free, can do fuzzy matching.
  • For full text mining and analysis: NVivo, R (tm and topicmodels packages), Quosa (but confined to this platform)
  • Caution: pick peer comparators that are actually comparable.
  • On tracking publications of a researcher in different positions/institutions: make sure they have an ORCID. Use citation alert services. Search academia.edu, researchgate, NIH RePORTER.
  • Go to research team meetings to talk about bibliometric/research assessment services rather than wait for them to come to you or your workshops. Be (pro)active. Important to meet with directors to clarify what metrics mean to address misinterpretation or misuse.
  • IN-SPIRE was actually designed to identify research gaps. Else, you can also search for “surprising” or “world changing” which may give some insight.
  • Altmetrics shows early impact, attention, and gives a nice visual (i.e. the donut). It’s useful to show you’ve reached the public.
  • Someone mentioned there’s a moderate relationship between Mendeley readers and citation count. I’ll have to verify that claim another day.

After the reception, I had a great dinner and conversations with Kris Alpi, Karen Gutzman, and Abby Adamczyk at a local Spanish tapas place. Kris and Karen both presented posters and are much deeper in providing bibliometric services at their institutions. Abby used to work at Eccles!

Chris Belter and Ya-Ling Lu held a hands-on training session the next day. Materials from the workshop are here. The focus was on where to find bibliometric features and learning/practice using the tools (VLOOKUP in Excel, Sci2, Gephi). Email me if you want my annotations on the workshop slides. NIH Library is planning to publish their workflow next year.

After the workshop ended, I popped over to check out the NIH Library and had the good fortune to meet Josh Duberman who gave me a personal tour. Then I had a lovely time catching up with Kathel Dunn at the National Library of Medicine. She was my mentor when I did my ARL CEP Fellowship at NLM over 5 years ago.

Overall, it was a great trip and learned a lot about bibliometrics, what tools to use for analysis and visualization, and what others are doing at their institutions. Plus, networking!