University rankings and publication figures — Is there something to compare from the library’s point of view?

What really is in the interest of the stakeholders and library directors is to find a way to compare the library’s impact on the success of the university, and if and how the investments of the library — acquisitions and services, staff and collections, equipment and space — affect the success of the university for instance in the different international higher education rankings.

The background information shows some ranking from the years 2011 and 2012. Here are the CWTS Leiden ranking 2015 showing each of our university’s size-independent ranking in biomedical and health sciences in comparison to the other universities in the same country — not in comparison to each other as we have realized that the funding systems and the organizations make direct comparisons difficult and hard to explain.

See CWTS Leiden Ranking 2015 for the explanations of the impact and collaboration factors. The first two pictures show collaboration and impact figures of Belgian universities in biomedical and health sciences, the next two the same figures of Finnish universities, and the last two the same of Norwegian universities.

Did our libraries have any impact on these? We would really like to find collaborators with statistical analysis skills to e.g. dig deep into our biomedical and health sciences electronic collections numbers of usage, to help in finding our if investing in them is worth the money in each university in relation to the figures that the different ranking lists provide.

SciVal is a set of integrated modules that enables institutions to make evidence-based strategic decisions. SciVal consists of three modules: Overview, benchmarking and collaboration. Does using them tell us anything about the libraries’ impact? Or, when we compare the figures, do we see something the library can do better?

The overall pictures of our universities look like this:







We can compare the scholarly output:

The can compare the scholarly output also in the top 10 publications category:

The figures are interesting but how much impact the library and its services has on these figures? How could we know that?

Our next step will be to explore qualitative indicators regarding the libraries’ impact on publications and research.


Preparing to present in Seville

We are very happy for the opportunity to present our project for EAHIL colleagues in Seville – last year some of them participated in a focus group and helped us to move on.


Online meeting in Google Hangouts. Working on presentation slides.


When we wrote the abstract, we had to decide what we wanted to present. We chose to focus on working together and using our project as an example. Luckily our paper was accepted. We started working on the paper. We did not divide the paper between us in order for each to write a part on their own but worked collaboratively on the whole document.

We assumed this would not be easy so, fortunately, we could use a day together in Brussels (after the Board meeting) to plan the process and to draft the paper. It was very useful to have some time together to kick-start the writing process.

Since then we worked online together and between the online meetings each of us filled in the text, commented on text, made corrections, added new ideas, and photos, etc. We had about two hangouts per month in which we edited the text together. As English is not the first language for any of us we had to find someone to proofread our text and got help from Ghislaine’s uncle who was happy to give a hand.


Tuulevi’s two screens. Presentation on the left shared to others in Hangouts.



Collaborative writing. Karen in the big picture.


After the full text of the paper was sent to the conference organizers we started working on our presentation that will take place on Friday in parallel session I Cooperation. We started out with the text from the paper but ended with a quite different structure. When preparing the slides we used the same method as for the paper: collaborative writing, working between meetings and online meetings to agree on content and shape.

As Ghislaine will not be able to travel to Seville, Tuulevi and Karen will present, but we are all together responsible for the presentation. Today we are working on the notes, next week we will practise online.

Our challenges — as always — have been finding the time for the online meetings as well as to work on this in between.

Our advice for this kind of collaborative online writing:

  • Have enough time – start early!
  • Allocate time also for between-meetings-work.
  • Meet on a regular basis, every 7 or 14 days: when meetings are too far from each other, procrastination threats!
  • It helps, if you team spirit is as great as ours.

Working together is fun!



Working on performance indicators and our paper for EAHIL 2016

Last week we had a chance to meet face-to-face in Brussels and to work on two things:

  1. On choosing the indicators to be able to compare our services and their impact. Choosing indicators is not easy but we managed to agree on three ISO indicators. We will write more about them later.
  2. On our paper, titled How to work together on an international project? Experiences from a benchmarking project of three European health libraries, that has been accepted to the scientific programme of the EAHIL 2016 in Seville, Spain, in June. We will present it in Parallel Session I Cooperation on Friday 10th June.

In addition to online meetings, that we have regularly, and sharing and writing documents in Dropbox, as well as collaborative blog posting from three different locations, we consider the possibility to meet in person every now and then necessary for effective and productive project work. This time we had a full day after another meeting we all attended.

International cooperation

A Finn needing local support in using a Belgian keyboard.