Operationalizing Bibliometrics as a Service in a Research Library.

Author:Makar, Susan
Position::CONTRIBUTED PAPER - Report


This paper shares the research and methodologies behind ISO's expanded portfolio of bibliometric tools and demonstrates a range of services that can be adapted for use in both academic and special libraries. Bibliometric analysis services can support research objectives from strategic planning to impact assessment, enhancing ongoing efforts to build collaborations with stakeholders.

NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). NIST's mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve the quality of life. ISO is responsible for creating, maintaining, organizing, and disseminating information to support the research and programmatic needs required to fulfill the scientific and technical mission of NIST.

ISO's path to operationalizing bibliometrics as a service involved responses to a series of customer requests in 2017, often related to strategic planning, that required quantitative analysis beyond traditional citation analysis and research impact assessment. ISO staff already had some experience with co-author network analysis, but had done little with topic or text analysis. The following projects helped ISO expand its bibliometric analysis services to include topic and text analysis, and more customized services.

* ISO's first collaborations involved the identification of emerging research areas relevant to NIST. Program staff became interested in ISO's work searching for "white space" or research opportunities in the strategic areas relevant to the Material Measurement Laboratory (MML).

* The MML, collaboration led to a more detailed and focused study of NIST research in the interdisciplinary area of greenhouse gas metrology for a researcher in NIST's Special Programs Office.

* Several researchers have requested analyses of collaborations and co-authorship in their area of research, with a focus on how their specific laboratory contributes to NIST's body of work.

* Staff in NIST's Program Coordination Office wanted to create a network visualization of NIST co-authorship to understand how agency researchers collaborate across organizational lines.

* Materials scientists wanted to understand the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to identify potential authors for a special issue of a journal, and to later write a perspective paper on AI and machine learning.

Each of these requests presented its own set of challenges. Sometimes the challenge was identifying the right body of literature; other times it was using the right analysis tools to show meaningful results. Close collaborations with researchers were necessary to ensure the project stayed on track and that ISO answered the requests with on-target deliverables. ISO staff met several times with each researcher or research group and emailed or spoke with them on a regular basis.

This paper looks at each type of request listed above and describes the challenges of each while sharing the methods and tools for delivering targeted results.


Bibliometrics is broadly defined by the American Library Association as "the use of statistical methods in the analysis of a body of literature to reveal the historical development of subject fields and patterns of authorship, publication, and use." (Young 1983). Bibliometric activities by library practitioners have focused primarily on citation analysis and research impact assessment until very recently.

The papers written by library practitioners have maintained this narrower focus on the "quantitative measure of research output" (Bladek 2014, 330). For example, the bibliometric services described in Bladek (2014) and Leiss and Gregory (2016) include citation counts, h-index calculations, and impact factor measurements along with customer training and engagement.

This pattern in the literature mirrors actual practice in research libraries, at least in the early part of this decade. Correll, Kerman, and Afzal (2013, 650) surveyed the bibliometric activities of 140 academic libraries and found that the dominant forms of support offered, after training, were citation reports and calculations of research impact. Cox et al. (2017) develop a competency model for bibliometric practitioners through a survey of 92 practitioners. Many of the "core tasks" emphasized by...

To continue reading