Convening the OCLC RLP around bibliometrics and research impact (BRI)

Bibliometrics and research impact (BRI) is an emerging area of interest for research libraries, as well as for their parent institutions. The OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP) recently conducted a brief, high-level survey of our partners, to learn more about BRI activities and interests. The purpose was operational rather than investigatory, as we sought information to help us with programmatic planning. The short poll was comprised of only seven simple questions. We received 48 individual responses, representing at least 27 institutions in three regions (North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific).

We sought more information about BRI activities in partnership with the research impact team at the Syracuse University Libraries, comprised of Emily Hart, Brenna Helmstutler, Anna Kuiken, and Stephanie HJ McReynolds.

Here are some of the key things that we learned

Libraries are providing BRI services and they expect to continue investment

Seventy-five percent of respondents reported that their library supports individual researchers, and only slightly fewer, at 65% indicated that their library also supports academic and research units.

Three quarters of respondents indicated that their library is considering either expanding existing BRI services or beginning to offer—for both individual researchers and for academic and research units.

Library leaders are keenly interested in this space

Most poll respondents reported some familiarity with BRI and BRI tools, but only about 13% reported significant expertise. Many of the survey respondents were senior library leaders, often at the University Library level, who are responsible for making strategic decisions about BRI services. Their engagement in this informal poll serves as a quiet signal of their significant interest in this area. 

“What is your own level of expertise in BRI?”

We also had a couple of free-text responses that indicated that additional support was welcome as institutional BRI activities were launching. An example of one such response:

“We are about to recruit our first BRI post in the university; it will be based in the library but also work in partnership with the business intelligence unit. I’m therefore very keen to connect our new person with others in similar posts.”

Library leader, United Kingdom

RLP affiliates want to learn from peer institutions

We asked what types of activities would be of greatest interest to our membership, in order to inform future RLP undertakings. Respondents indicated interest in an array of different activities, but with the strongest interest in webinar presentations about BRI offerings at peer RLP institutions, followed by informal discussions. There was less uniform interest in more resource-intensive working groups or reading groups.

Furthermore, in a similar question about respondents’ primary goals for engaging with the RLP in this area, 98% of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that a primary goal for RLP engagement in this area was to learn about the BRI activities of peer institutions. Ninty-two percent of respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that a primary goal for RLP engagement in this area was to discuss the array of tools (such as Dimensions or Tableau) that could be used to support BRI activities. Seventy-five percent of respondents also expressed an interest in building their professional networks through the RLP.

Drawn from conversations I’ve had with the BRI team at Syracuse, we also asked if RLP affiliates would be interested in some specific collaborative activities. Seventy-four percent of respondents indicated they would be interested in working with others at RLP to institutions to collect and document BRI tools. Another 72% also indicated an interest in collecting and documenting BRI use cases. These activities could potentially lead to presentation and publication opportunities, of which 72% of respondents indicated they would be interested in.

So what’s next? The RLP BRI Roadmap

Works in Progress webinars—come to learn and to share

Survey respondents indicated a strong interest in webinar presentations that offer case studies of the BRI developments at other RLP institutions, such as a previous offering by the University of Waterloo and a webinar coming up Wednesday, February 9 featuring the BRI team at Syracuse University.

I invite other RLP institutions to share about their BRI activities in our webinar series. With so many institutions still looking to develop services in this area, I acknowledge that many of you may not feel you have enough for entire webinar, or you are nervous for other reasons. No worries! I still invite you to share a lightning talk about your efforts—we can coordinate a short “show and tell” session representing the efforts of many institutions in a single webinar–helping us all to learn together. This is, after all, why we call this the “works in progress” webinar series! Send me an email.

We also heard from participants that they are hungry to learn more the array of BRI tools that institutions use, and this will be a specific topic addressed in our webinars.

Discuss BRI uses

Photo by airfocus on Unsplash

We heard that RLP institutions are interested in collecting and describing BRI use cases. I’ll be working with folks at Syracuse University to frame the discussion, and I invite others within the Partnership to contact me if you are interested in helping to organize this effort. I expect these to be relaxed, informal conversations that support sharing and networking.

RLP affiliates should watch our Research Support Listserv for invitations to participate in these discussions virtually. Stay tuned.

Synthesizing and sharing

As we have more discussions and webinars, I also expect to synthesize and share what we are learning with the entire library community here, through the OCLC Research Hanging Together blog, and the relevant blogs on BRI topics will accumulate here, under a unique tag.

I also invite our RLP affiliates to consider guest blogging.

I have a great deal to learn about bibliometrics and research impact–how libraries are responding, what services they are offering, how they are managing resources, and how they are also addressing the ethical complexities. I’m looking forward to these discussions, and I hope you will join me, so we can all learn together. Interested in sharing and participating? Just drop me an email.