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Saturday, June 8 • 9:00am - 10:00am
Compelling Evidence: New Tools and Methods for Aligning Collections with the Research Mission

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Research problem

Libraries are constantly evaluating and adjusting their activities to best align with the mission and priorities of the communities they serve. More recently, greater emphasis has been placed on using evidence-based decision making for collection development-related projects. As an administrative member of Northwestern University’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center is particularly interested in how the library’s collection meets the needs of the CTSI in translating research and discoveries from the lab to real world solutions for patients and the larger community. This unique mission has led librarians at Galter to focus on resources related to translational research, such as clinical trials, patents, and policy documents, and to try to determine how effectively the library’s collection covers these resources.

Research Methodology

Previously, librarians identified and documented a scalable and semi-automated workflow for analyzing citation information from faculty publications sourced from Web of Science, and combined this with COUNTER data for a contextual examination of Galter Library's collections and Northwestern's scholarly outputs. This new project expands on past work by utilizing Digital Science Dimensions as a data source to capture unexplored publication types. Dimensions allows librarians to identify clinical trials with Northwestern-affiliated investigators, and patents where Northwestern authors are patent holders. Publications cited by the patents or trials will be analyzed to determine whether the journals are in the library’s holdings. Librarians will also review policy documents that cite papers where there was at least one Northwestern-affiliated author, and analysis will be done of the journal title breakdown.

The decision to utilize Dimensions as a data source stems from the ability to search clinical trials, patents, grants, and policy documents using its interface. Perhaps even more importantly, Dimensions establishes links between all content types, allowing one to establish interlinked research-output timelines. This allows the identification of journals on the cited reference lists of these unique document types, and thus the investigation of the journals’ coverage in the library’s collection.

Preliminary Results

A small pilot investigation of Northwestern-affiliated clinical trials on topics related to dermatology identified 193 clinical trials, which contain a total of 859 cited references. De-duplication of the data resulted in 730 unique references with 329 unique journal titles. Librarians reviewed all journal titles with more than one reference, and found that the majority of these titles exist in the library’s collections. Moving forward with a larger study, the group plans for a more granular analysis of a wider selection of subject areas, comparing dates of holdings coverage against the dates in which the journals were cited in the patent, clinical trial, or policy document, whether these journal titles are licensed through big package deals or available as open access publications, and how the findings compare to traditional e-resource metrics such as full-text retrievals and journal cost-per-use. As in the previous study, librarians are looking to identify gaps in the library’s holdings and other citation patterns of interest.


Joelen Pastva

Head, Collection Management & Metadata Services, Northwestern University

Saturday June 8, 2019 9:00am - 10:00am EDT
Monongahela - 17th Floor