Summary of different institutions’ approach to rolling out SciVal and support services. Guest post by Jenny Coombs.

A few months ago I asked the lis-bibliometrics list how institutions that had purchased SciVal had rolled it out across their respective universities.  We have recently taken out a subscription to SciVal at my own institution (De Montfort University in Leicester, UK) and we are starting to think about the services and support we want to provide.

The Repository_AJC1

From the responses received, it is clear that some institutions are further down the road than others in the development of a suite of services.  However, there was a general theme running through the responses suggesting that initially the roll-out of SciVal is probably likely to be fairly low key and that a straightforward uptake or interest in SciVal should not be expected. Instead, a phased/gradual approach seemed to be the experience of most institutions and the advice was to offer SciVal services based on your university strategy and target groups and to get buy-in from Directors of Strategic Planning, Directors of International, PVC for research etc. One institution commented that by embedding SciVal data into university KPIs, bibliometrics analysis and the use of SciVal had become an invaluable tool.

In some institutions, a first step was the development of a service for creating reports based on SciVal data.  These reports are generated for the institution, either on behalf of individuals, departments, research groups, or REF Units of Assessment groupings.  Some institutions suggested that the uptake of SciVal data has mainly been by university management.  Those institutions that are further down the road with their services are also producing reports that benchmark the university or department’s publishing output. Enabling the library team to build a reputation as experts in both the system and with metrics in general was one of the reported advantages of providing this type of service.

Training activities on the whole seem to have developed from the initial report service.  In many cases, training provision is still fairly low key, directed at specific individuals or research groups that have shown interest and in some cases 1:1 appointments are offered as a service.  The general feeling is that the overall ‘offer’ is still evolving with the ultimate aim of enabling academics and administrators to use the system themselves. Interestingly, one institution responded that they did not limit training to data derived solely from SciVal, particularly where the data did not reflect the interest and needs of staff in arts disciplines, focusing instead on other sources of intelligence.

Of course, who provides these services varies between different institutions.  Does it sit within the research office, within the library, or within the planning department? Do services differ depending on who ‘owns’ bibliometrics?  From the responses received, it appeared that training activities were mainly carried out by library staff even where roll out or responsibility for creating reports rested with the research office.  Perhaps this is due to the library having always had a remit for training within the institution?  This may also vary depending on whether a library has introduced a dedicated research team within their structures.

At DMU, the subscription for SciVal has been purchased from our Research Business and Innovation Directorate.  However, support for the software will mainly come from the library.  Based on the comments received, we are planning to start small scale with the provision initially of online guidance via a website and setting up a generic email account for queries.  We then plan to introduce training to research groups where an interest in citation analysis has been demonstrated.  As yet we haven’t planned a more formal report/analysis service but depending on the scale of enquiries we receive and as awareness grows, this service may be something that we introduce at a later stage.  However, at present we do not have a dedicated research team within the library so our support comes from one full-time repository officer and a portion of my time as team manager for our academic liaison team.

As interest grows we would hope to get ‘subject librarians’ involved in support also, but we see support for this area being very much a collaboration between Library and Learning Services and the Research Business and Innovation Directorate, each of us being able to bring different expertise to the services provided.


Disclaimer: Reference within this article to any specific commercial or non-commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer or otherwise does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favouring by the Bibliomagician. This article gives the views of the author, and not the position of the Bibliomagician blog, nor of the Lis-Bibliometrics Committee.


Author Profile: Jenny Coombs has been working as Academic Team Manager at De Montfort University, Leicester for 3 years, managing the Academic Liaison Team supporting the Faculties of Business and Law and Health and Life Sciences.  Previously she worked at the University of Nottingham for 18 years in various subject librarian and team leader roles.  Key aspects of these roles include engagement and partnership building with faculty and she is particularly interested in library support for the research agenda and in particular the use of bibliometrics to inform research decisions and activities.

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