UoL Library Blog

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USTLG Winter Meeting 1

Posted by selinalock on 30 November, 2010

On 25th November 2010 I attended the University Science & Technology Librarians’ Group Meeting at Keble College, University of Oxford. The theme for the day was “The role of libraries in the research process.” I nearly walked straight past the little wooden entrance to Keble College, but was greeted with a magnificent vista on entering…

Keble College

Keble College

An academic perspective on libraries supporting research. Professor Darton, Dept Engineering, Oxford University.

Professor Darton expressed his love of books, talked about his ancestors being publishers of children’s books and having founded the Darton Juvenile Library. He also talked about how he had fought to keep the Engineering Library at Oxford under the control of the Department as he felt it played an important part in their culture.

He had brought in a couple of classic engineering texts and said it was difficult these days for academics to find time to write “classic” types of textbooks and they were hvaing to find other ways of conveying information to students.

In his time as an engineer he thought that libraries/librarians had moved from being a status symbol (the bigger the library the more knowledge) that was protected and guarded by the librarians for their specific patrons, on to being providers of information which encouraged access for all and finally, these days, being more of an online gateway with librarians as web managers.

He then went on to argue that for science and engineering researchers the library is no longer needed – they rarely use physical texts, there is a huge amount of good quality information accessible via Google (as long as you have the skills to judge quality) and more movement towards open access materials online (e.g. in his are of sustainability). He argued that he would be happy, as a researcher, for there to be a subscription team who oversaw journal subsciptions on behalf of the University, a storage/retrieval service for older print items and for the sciences to stop funding the expensive physical libraries needed by the arts. Or even move to a model where all researchers are given a portion of the library funding to “buy individual article on demand” instead of having a central library service! As you can imagine this was a controversial point of view…

The audience asked if he thought the same applied to undergraduates and he thought up until their 3rd year projects that might have different needs, but by project time they might still need a budget to buy relevant articles.

When asked if he saw any role for librarians he thought there was still an important role in training people to be critical of information, and recommends library training to his students. Also that journal subscriptions would be more cost effective than buying individual articles so perhaps librarians should become/be seen as skilled negotiaters. Librarians need to show how they can help researchers.

Professor Darton was also critical of the current peer-review system, and as an editor of a journal it was becoming very hard to find good reviewers. He suggested that publishing the names of the reviewers might improve the quality of the reviwing. He was also suprised to find younger researchers don’t have a concept of what a journal is as they have never held a print copy in their hands.

USTLG Talk

USTLG Talk

 

Update on REF, Kimberley Hacket (REF Team)

Main points of interest:

  • REF will be a process of critical review and some will include bibliometric information.
  • 3 elements: Outputs (research) ~60%, Impact of research ~ 25% and Environment ~15%.
  • 4 outputs per researcher (less if early career).
  • 36 sub-panels looking at different subject areas.
  • Outputs selected by HEI
  • All types of outputs can be selected as long as they conform to REF definition of an output, including open access outputs.
  • Citation information can be used by a sub-panel if they wish. However, it will be used to inform expert review and not on it’s own.
  • If panels request bibliometric information then it will be supplied by REF (not by institution) and will conform to agree simple metric methods.
  • Panels being selected and will be announced early 2011.
  • Impact is not just economic but also social, quality of life etc.
  • Do not want to discourage curiosity-driven research.
  • Data collection will be built on the RAE system – pilot in late 2012, live in 2013.
  • Assessment in 2014 – results by end of 2014.
  • Any bibliometric data used will come from a single supplier appointed by REF.
  •  

    Old Bodleian Library

    Old Bodleian Library

    Research Metrics, Anne Costigan, University of Bradford.

    Anne talked about looking at metrics with researchers and the issues around metrics:

  • Metrics can be used at author, article, journal or institution level – journal level most known.
  • Citation metrics available from Web of Knowledge, Scopus & Google Scholar.
  • Journal Citation Reports (WoK) – impact factors most famous – attempts to measure importance and quality of journal.
  • Citation Reports usually ignore books, conferences and non-journal research information/citations.
  • Researchers tend to get hung up on journal impact factor – seen as “league table of journals”. However, be wary as different subjects have different amounts of journals listed, impact factor can change over time so look at trend, encourage people to also look at ranking.
  • Often asked “what is a good impact factor?” = how long is a piece of string? Varies tremendously by subject e.g. a specialist area might have many citations missing as journals not indexed, or papers in conferences etc.
  • Self-citation can skew figures.
  • Review journals tend to be very highly cited.
  • Editors have been known to insist that articles always cited articles from within the same journal to inflate impact factor.
  • Controversial papers are usually highly cited and can skew figures (could be a “bad” paper).
  • Other options to look at: Eidenfactor (WoK) – complex algorithm where citations from highly ranked journals hold more weight. H -index e.g. 34 papers which have at least 34 citations = H-index of 34. H-index does favour those with a longer career.
  • Article metrics – times cited (WoK, Scopus, Google Scholar) – different results from each. Scopus & Google Scholar tends to include more non-journal citations.
  • Author metrics – WoK can create citation report & remove self-citations. Problems with identifying papers belonging to certain authors (e.g. similar name to someone else.)
  • Can use ResearcherID (free service via WoK) to register articles under your author name.
  • Scimago – uses Scopus data for free.
  • What about repositories?
  • MESUR – combines citation & usage data.
  • Rise of Web2.0 – vote for your favourite article?
  • Researchers like easy to undertsand metrics e.g. H-index.
  • Uses of metrics – where to publish, what to subscribe to, in recruiting researchers, at Dept or Institutional level for marketing…
  • No measure perfect – always look an a combination of things.
  • One Response to “USTLG Winter Meeting 1”

    1. sarahw9 said

      I’m sure Professor Darton is not alone in his views…

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