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Easily generate bibliometric insights—without coding


Susan Jenkins

Two librarians share how they leverage the versatile power of Scopus and Data Fetcher to generate insights into collections and researcher impact.

Often librarians miss the power of customized data from platforms they subscribe to because they don’t have programming skills. Providing insights into the impact of your institution’s research is an important part of supporting faculty and evaluating library collections, but assembling the most insightful data can require a lot of manual copying and pasting.  Two librarians recently shared how they are harnessing the flexible, easy to use Data Fetcher API tool to generate data sets that help them illustrate impact—from analyzing the value of collections to building researcher portfolios, all without needing to code. 

Data Fetcher打開新的分頁/視窗 is the name for a free API打開新的分頁/視窗 query tool available for users associated with institutions that subscribe to Scopus and/or SciVal. An API, or “Application Programming Interface” is an intermediary software program that gives users the option to pull datasets from a given platform (like Scopus) in a custom format that’s not available through the main platform interface. This comes in handy if you want to analyze bibliometric information from a platform like Scopus but the dataset is too large, or you have a set of linked metadata you want to query from different platforms – combining Scopus and SciVal data, for example. 

Helping researchers tell their story

Researchers “Increasingly need to demonstrate impact when they are preparing for promotion or tenure reviews” says Lori Ostapowicz-Critz, Associate Director of Scholarly Communication and Open Strategies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. To “help research faculty tell their story,” she recently demonstrated how she uses Data Fetcher to generate reports that support researchers with more than just citation numbers.

“We’ve found that social media data has become a critical component of this impact story that they’re trying to tell.”–Lori Ostapowicz-Critz

Lori uses Data Fetcher to create Scopus queries that pull both the citation data for the researcher and the PlumX打開新的分頁/視窗 metrics for each article, showing where and how the research is being engaged with through social media platforms. Before Data Fetcher, capturing this was a painstaking manual process – copying the PlumX data for each of the researcher’s articles, then pasting them one by one into her report.  But then, “Data Fetcher came to the rescue!” The tool did all that manual work for her. The tool allowed her to automatically include PlumX metrics for each article alongside the citation data. “It felt like I won the lottery,” she says—“what used to take hours of work is now produced in minutes!” Lori’s customer consultant at Elsevier introduced her to Data Fetcher. At the time, she had heard about API’s but had never used one. To get started, she simply had to: 

  • Download the Data Fetcher client 

  • Request an API key (and an Institutional key, if you work off-campus) to add to the client file 

  • Launch the app and build a query 

Because you can use the same commands as in Scopus Advanced Search to build a query in Data Fetcher, the learning curve was minimal.

In Data Fetcher’s Output selector, Lori could select what information she wanted to export about the records in the query from a list of options. The output was easy to import into Excel for further tweaking. 

Data Fetcher can combine data from several other sources as well. Lori is planning to add SciVal data into future reports to show collaboration information, which she can turn into a network modelling graphic using a visualization tool like VOSviewer. She’ll also add CiteScore data for metrics at the journal level, to show the quality of the journals where WPI’s researchers are publishing. 

So far the faculty have been really pleased with the additional insights that these reports provide, seeing much more of their research story in the metrics that Lori is able to include. 

Lori Ostapowicz-Critz is the Associate Director for Scholarly Communication and Open Strategies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s (WPI) Gordon Library, in Worcester, Massachusetts. In that role, she is responsible for delivering information resources and discovery services and innovative uses of technology and assessment strategies that advance WPI research, teaching, community engagement, and other library programs and initiatives. Lori has been a science/engineering librarian for over 20 years, with extensive experience in information literacy instruction, reference, research, and collection management.  Before joining WPI in 2018, Lori was the Assistant Dean for Collections Strategy at the Georgia Tech Library in Atlanta. 

Evaluating the importance of a library’s collections to research output 

With the current pressures on library budgets, “there is an urgency to come up with creative ways to look at our collections, so when the time comes to make decisions, we’re better prepared,” says Julie Morris, Collections Analysis & Bibliometrics Librarian at the University of New Brunswick. Typical tools for this are COUNTER reports, but they don’t tell you the whole picture: how the collections are being used (and who is using them) doesn’t appear in the download numbers.  

Julie is leveraging Data Fetcher‘s capabilities for a multi-year project that reveals these kinds of insights to show how the library’s collections are directly supporting the research published by UNB’s researchers and graduate students. By “combining the powers” of collections analysis and bibliometric citation analysis, they are able to show a fuller picture of how the collections are being used. Because UNB research represents around 70% of the province’s sponsored research, knowing what collections are cited, where, and how can help the library understand the importance of various collections to UNB’s role in the research landscape. 

Julie used Data Fetcher to first extract a list of publications by UNB researchers from Scopus, and then extract the citations in those publications. Overlapping this citation data with library holdings data, Julie was able to identify which citations drew on UNB’s collections. After some cleanup steps, they were able to create charts from the data to illustrate several aspects of how the collections were being used. The charts analyze citations by publisher, journal, journal package, and what journals were cited that are not in the collections. They also showed what fields in the collection were cited most frequently – this was important because “in collections analysis we want to make sure that our collection is balanced in terms of who we’re supporting.” 

In making the value of different journal packages clearer, Julie’s research has created a foundation for making decisions about purchases and possible unbundling measures. It revealed several additional applications and insights, including that “there is an appetite from our researchers to use library collections,” with the collection represented in a majority of the citations. In the project’s next steps, Julie will enrich the data with corresponding COUNTER and ILL records and gather faculty input, among other things. Being able to access and combine this data in a flexible format is where Data Fetcher helps Julie build the understanding that can inform collection management decisions. 

Julie Morris (they/she) is the Collections Analysis/Bibliometrics Librarian at the University of New Brunswick. In this role, they identify and employ novel uses of data for collections management, research, and administration. They are an early career librarian, holding an MLIS from Western University, and a Certificate in Project Management from the University of Toronto. Their diverse interests include library assessment, scholarly communications, knowledge mobilization, text data mining, equity and inclusion in institutions, and cats.  

The power of API data in the library

Data Fetcher was initially developed as an in-house tool by Customer Consultant Eric Livingston a few years ago. He soon realized that rather than relying on it himself to address customer queries, he could place its power in their hands directly. Over time he’s seen many ways librarians can leverage the tool to gauge research impact, identify networks, and generate other insights.

Moving forward, Eric says Data Fetcher will be more than an “extra arrow in the quiver” for users, but a way to explore use cases together with customers and contribute to future development of Scopus or other solutions.

Watch the Beyond Bibliometrics webinar 

Anyone interested in hearing the full story on using Data Fetcher can see it in the recent Choice/ACRL webinar on which this article was based, “Beyond Bibliometrics: Using Scopus to Assess Collections and Support Faculty"打開新的分頁/視窗 from May 9, 2023.  

Watch recording 打開新的分頁/視窗 | Download presentation打開新的分頁/視窗


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