Research evaluation – is it our business? The role of librarians in the brave new world of research evaluation

A guest post from Louise Skelding, Senior Publishing Editor based in London

Earlier this week I attended the JIBS event at the University of Birmingham on ‘Research evaluation – is it our business? The role of librarians in the brave new world of research evaluation’.

Andria McGrath’s (KCL) keynote set the scene for the day, describing how many librarians in a research support role managing their institution’s repositories are increasing moving into research evaluation in order to support preparations for the REF and provide bibliometric analysis for external benchmarking and internal evaluation. This has led to the need to develop systems to collect relevant research data and the importance of using bibliometric data in order to make sense of it.  Current Research Information Systems (CRIS), common in mainland Europe, are now increasingly being adopted in the UK.

Other speakers throughout the day talked about the challenges of using commercial databases and systems such as Thompson Reuters’ Web of ScienceSM and InCitesTM and Elsevier’s Scopus for citation evaluation and analysis given the cost of subscribing to these products and understanding the context and limitations of the data (for example gaps in coverage, making sure you normalise the data).

Isobel Stark and Michael Whitton (Southampton) debated whether Google Scholar could be used for bibliometric analysis given that it is freely accessible and fills in some of the gaps in coverage of other databases. They found that the data is not robust enough and so GS is better used in addition to other products.

As Jenny Delasalle (Warwick) concluded in her presentation on Supporting Bibliometrics, be “sceptical and informed”!

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