This fall, I attended the Bibliometrics & Research Assessment Symposium for Librarians and Information Professionals. Over 150 librarians and information professionals attended the 2-day symposium at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Ludo Waltman was the first keynote speaker from the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS)  of Leiden University in the Netherlands, where bibliometric and scientometric research has been studied for over 25 years. His presentation was  on “Citation Analysis: State of the Art, Good Practices, and Future Developments”. Dr. Waltman provided a balanced perspective of the limitations of the impact factor and the h-index. The Leiden Manifesto for research metrics articulates 10 principles of good practice for research evaluation.

Professional bibliometrics is mainly focused at the institutional level, where field normalization is essential. Commercial resources such as InCites and SciVal adopt a standard field normalization approach, which also has its own limitations such as dealing with multidisciplinary journals and fields that are too broad. For example, although clinical neurology studies may be cited many times, neurosurgery publications are typically not cited as much. Alternative approaches have been designed by CWTS (Leiden Ranking), Scopus (Source Normalization or SNIP), and NIH (Relative Citation Ratio).

Katy Börner, Distinguished Professor of Information Science, from Indiana University-Bloomington, spoke on “(Network) Data Visualization Literacy”, which she defined as the “ability to read, make, and explain data visualization.” She developed the Sci2 Tool Interface, which was covered in the hands-on training workshop on the second day of the symposium. I am excited to learn more and have registered for Dr. Borner’s MOOC on “Information Visualization” for next spring semester.

Many academic and federal librarians have started offering research assessment services to their patrons. The poster session featured librarians from over 25 institutions such as the NIH Library, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Central Library, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, Emory, N.C. State, Georgia State, and so forth.

Librarians from N.C. State, Duke, and UNC Health Sciences Library also attended this symposium, and I look forward to meeting with them locally to exchange ideas about best practices.