In a day of a Bibliomagician (Shannon Gordon)

Kick starting the series of “In a day of a Bibliomagician” we focus on what it is like to be a Bibliometrician in Canada. Shannon Gordon who is a Bibliometrics and Reseach Impact Librarian at the University of Waterloo, shares with us her experience. Here is her interview.

Shannon, thank you very much for agreeing to be the first interviewee for this series. I would like to start off with asking you, how long have you been in post?

This July, it will be 2 years and a half…time flies

Where are you located (Library, Research Office, etc)? 

The Library

How did you come to work in bibliometrics, Shannon?  

In 2006 I entered academic librarianship, and spent much of 2006-2015 as a liaison librarian in the health sciences. I originally joined the University of Waterloo as an embedded Pharmacy liaison librarian, and spending time in an embedded role really opened my eyes to the world of researchers and research administration. Working closely with units external to the library, while at the same time representing the library, is a satisfying role and it is fun to be the bridge between these different groups. While my previous portfolios were very influential to my career, I also believe that I very much ‘stumbled’ into the research impact realm, and I am very happy to have done so!

So… what is your typical work day like? 

While there is no ‘typical day’, there certainly is variety as I report to the Library yet work closely with Institutional Analysis and Planning, and the Office of Research. My portfolio was created to support the Transformation Research Theme of the University of Waterloo’s Strategic Plan, which results in a diverse range of projects, and I typically begin each day by checking my inbox to see if any time-sensitive requests are waiting! Once email is tackled, the various areas I offer insight into include: supporting institutional & discipline level bibliometric analyses, supporting InCites data requests, giving InCites training for groups on campus, validating university rankings data & answering questions relating to ranking methodologies, supporting competitive grant applications, collaborating on publication data quality assurance for our University’s current Pure implementation, and supervising Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) co-op students. I also participate on other committees such as the University’s Working Group on Bibliometrics, Pure Implementation Group, Rankings Steering Group, our local Research Impact Group, and one of our library’s current renovation-focused committees.  And I just finished my term as President of the Librarians’ Association of the University of Waterloo (LAUW).

What you working on at the moment? 

Like most people, I am currently working on several things! A few of these include supporting quality assurance exercises taking place as part of the University’s Pure implementation, and working with colleagues to explore what the newly formed ORCID Consortium in Canada could mean for authors at our University. I am also teaming up with Canadian colleagues to offer the first-ever Bibliometric & Research Impact Community of Practice happening later this spring which is very exciting! Additionally, I will be spending time documenting processes connected to my role as I will soon be starting a one-year parental leave—a big piece of this is coordinating early stages of several discipline-level bibliometric analyses that will be happening over the next 3-4 months.

What would you say has helped you the most in your job? (people, courses, websites, social media, etc.,) 

As this area of support is still new to Canada, I have been lucky enough to attend the 2015 course Measuring Science and Research Performance offered by CWTS, as well as the 2016 European Summer School for Scientometrics (ESSS). Both experiences were incredible learning opportunities and offered a unique opportunity to connect with colleagues from around the world. I also regularly monitor these email lists: LIS-BIBLIOMETRICS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK and res-impact@googlegroups.com. Through my job, I have discovered that it truly takes a village to support research impact requests! I am very fortunate to work with a great team at the University of Waterloo, the success of my role is very much a direct result of their collaborative nature and support.

What is the most challenging thing about your job?

As the area is still growing, this naturally means that change is constant in so many ways: new indicators, new data sources, new questions, etc. Given daily demands of any role, it can become challenging to stay most current in the area as the day-to-day tasks take priority over things like reading new literature in the field, exploring the newest data source, etc. Financial resourcing is also a challenge as data sources are typically subscription-based and each institution is therefore naturally limited by what is available locally. Similar to the work of any other position (liaison librarian, analyst, etc), this role is a constant juggling act!

And finally… What would you say is the best thing about your job? 

There are several! I love to learn new things and ask questions, it is for these reasons that my job is such a great fit for me as a librarian, and as a person. It is also refreshing to connect with units across campus, this includes the units I work closely with through my role and the other groups that I communicate with as various questions and requests come up. I also enjoy working closely with Masters of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students who work at our Library via co-op placements, their fresh energy and perspective on research impact issues is always inspiring and keeps me inspired about the work that I do.

If you would like to get in touch with Shannon, please see below her contact details.


Shannon Gordon, Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian
University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo ON, N2L 3G1, Canada. shannon.gordon@uwaterloo.ca, 519-888-4567, x36860

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