The New Competencies Model for Bibliometrics

LIS-Bibliometrics Committee members Barbara S. Lancho Barrantes, Hannelore Vanhaverbeke and Silvia Dobre discuss the new bibliometrics competencies model, why it was updated, and the changes made to it.

The “Competencies for bibliometrics” paper was first published online in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science in 2017 and informed the original Competencies Model for Bibliometric Work, which was created to ensure that practitioners, e.g., bibliometricians, research support librarians, and research officers, were prepared to perform their work appropriately and responsibly. This framework also helped to identify potential knowledge gaps. Principally the model was intended to help: a) individuals to assess their own bibliometric skills and identify training needs to fill the gaps in their knowledge; b) organisations to develop training programmes and support their staff in developing the necessary bibliometric skills; c) Information Schools plan programmes of study to ensure tomorrow’s information professionals have the necessary bibliometric skills. The “Competencies for bibliometrics” paper described the work needed to create the competency model for those supporting bibliometric work. They presented the results of a survey sent to practitioners where they could rate bibliometric tasks as entry level, core or specialist. One of the most remarkable results from that study was the majority of staff currently working in bibliometrics did not receive any formal training during their LIS qualification. Therefore, in order to keep up to date in the field they used a variety of sources to develop their knowledge.

It must also be recognised the model has been well accepted by the bibliometric community and applied to different contexts. For example, Stellenbosch University has used it as a basis to assess their librarians’ competencies. The authors of the 2017 “Competencies for bibliometrics” study identified that most improvement was needed at the core level for advocacy and training and technical knowledge. In a recent publication the researchers mentioned how the model could classify tasks carried out by practitioners when evaluating the production of bibliometric reports to promote best practice in the responsible use of metrics.

The model was intended to be a living framework exposed to regular evaluations and updates, especially linked to the constantly evolving and changing research contexts. For this purpose, the competencies development officers of the LIS-Bibliometrics Committee together with Andrew Cox (University of Sheffield) decided to evaluate it to adapt it to the current needs of practitioners. They created a survey which was sent to several lists of LIS professionals (e.g., LIS-Bibliometrics, IWETEL, ISSI), and in addition to this gathered feedback from participants at the LIS Bibliometrics conference 2020. With both results in hand, they evaluated the responses and updated the model.

The New Competencies Model for Bibliometric Work updated in July 2021 helps:

  • to identify skills gaps
  • to support progression through career stages for practitioners in the field of bibliometrics
  • to prepare job descriptions

Similar to the previous one, the new model has three main levels: Entry, Advanced, and Expert, and the model is structured into three sections: Knowledge in the Field, Responsibilities & Tasks, and Technical Skills. Professional integrity is a cross sectional requirement, which means all practitioners are expected to work under these principles regardless of their level of expertise.

We have produced visualisations this year so that the community can easily engage with the model. The visualisations use colour gradients to emphasize that those who are working in the Advanced level have already acquired the knowledge of Entry. Likewise, according to the model and the visual gradients, those considered Expert are expected to have acquired the knowledge of Entry and Advanced.

Knowledge in the field section of the Competencies Model: Entry, Advanced, and Expert Levels
Colour gradients on the 2021 Competencies Model reflect the previously acquired knowledge, skills, and responsibilities in bibliometric work; the above image shows the Knowledge in the Field section.

We are currently working on a peer reviewed publication that will analyse the data extracted from the survey and the responses at the conference using statistical techniques. Our hope is that this model will help improve metric literacy to enable the use of indicators in a responsible way.


Competency model for bibliometric work at Stellenbosch University. Available:

Cabezas-Clavijo A., & Torres-Salinas, D. (2021). Bibliometric Reports for Institutions: Best Practices in a Responsible Metrics Scenario. Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics. 6:696470. doi: 10.3389/frma.2021.696470

Competency model for bibliometric work. (2017). The Bibliomagician. [Web blog post].

Cox, A, Gadd, E, Sbaffi, L & Petersohn, S. (2019). Competencies for Bibliometrics. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. 51(3). doi:10.1177/0961000617728111 Project sponsored by Elsevier Research Intelligence.

Barbara S. Lancho Barrantes is a Bibliometrician leading the Bibliometrics service at the University of Leeds. She has a PhD in Bibliometrics developed within the SCImago research group. In her previous role she has been a Postdoctoral researcher in Scientometrics at Tecnologico de Monterrey (Mexico). Her scientific production mainly focuses on citation flows among countries and disciplines. She has published in journals and participated in conferences in the bibliometrics area. She is a member of the Metrics Toolkit Editorial Board.

Hannelore Vanhaverbeke is head of the Data Analysis Unit at KU Leuven’s Research Office (Belgium). This unit manages and monitors research related data (publications and citations, PhDs, research expenditures, projects). She is also repository manager and science policy advisor on scholarly communication, focused on impact through dissemination, and research assessment methods. She is co-founder and co-chair of the Flemish Interuniversitary WG on Research Data Management and Open Science, member of the LIBER RDM WG and of LERU’s Information and Open Access Policy Group

Silvia Dobre is Research Information Manager at the University of Kent, where she is leading on sourcing, analysis and visualisation of research-related data, aiming to maximise the use of bibliometrics, altmetrics and scientometrics data, platforms, and intelligence tools. Her work is focused on promoting the responsible research assessment, advising on international collaborations, business engagement and monitoring the progress in implementing the research strategy through key performance indicators. Silvia has an MBA from the University of Warwick and she previously worked in market research and business intelligence roles.

Unless it states other wise, the content of the Bibliomagician is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

One Reply to “The New Competencies Model for Bibliometrics”

  1. Thank you for including our reference in this blog post. “Competency model for bibliometric work at Stellenbosch University”. I just noticed that this link doesn’t work anymore, I think it’s because the conference where this was submitted as a poster, only shared the content temporarily. Herewith a link to Google slides, could you please add this link? Thank you!


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