Reflection on librarians and bibliometrics

Mar 25 2017 Published by under bibliometrics

I only attended a few of the sessions related to bibliometrics at ACRL2017, but I talked with a bunch of new people and I saw what was presented. This confirmed my view that:

Librarians are sophisticated and nuanced producers and consumers of bibliometrics

Last Fall, as I sat in  a presentation by Ludo Waltman (slides pdf) in which he talked of librarians as "citizen" bibliometricians who are, essentially, only able to uncritically use the JIF and h-index because they are all we understand. We are only able to look up metrics when carefully handed to us by vendors.

I was irate, because I do not see myself in that category at all. Nor do I see my colleagues at CMU, NYU, UIC, Northwestern, ARL, NIH, Cornell, and CWRU that way. But maybe I live in a bubble?

No. It was clear from ACRL that there are librarians everywhere who follow these things, care deeply about them, think critically about them, and who are sophisticated in creating and using metrics.

So I'm blowing a raspberry at your "citizen" bibliometrics. We are not the citizenry; we are the insurgency.   Ok, that's too dramatic. Let's say we're the army of the less-well funded ally that nevertheless has lots of troops in the battle.

2 responses so far

  • Elizabeth Gadd says:

    Interesting to get the view from across the pond on this. In the U.K. we are developing a set of bibliometric competencies to define what an entry/core/specialist library or research office practitioner might be expected to be competent in with a view to professionalising this area; support training and recruitment, etc. Love to discuss with US colleagues if of interest?

    • Christina Pikas says:

      I filled out a UK survey a few months ago about competencies. There's no similar move here because our funding is done so differently. Most of the librarians seem to have gotten into bibliometrics because they observed a need and had an interest. Very few seem to have it as an official job title. Still, the UK's competencies effort perfectly illustrates the professionalism and expertise of library practitioners.

      I would love to learn more about how it's done in the UK.