Navigating the rising metrics tide in the 21st century: which way for academic librarians in support of researchers in sub-Saharan Africa?

Keywords: Research metrics, academic librarians, sub-Saharan Africa, bibliometrics, altmetrics, research support


Academic librarians in sub-Saharan Africa, just like their counterparts in the rest of the world, are under pressure to provide relevant information services to satisfy varied client needs. Research administrators, grant offices, researchers, students and university managers, among others, are increasingly turning to academic librarians for information to meet their myriad research-related information and metrics needs. Sub-Saharan African countries’ emphasis on strengthening science, technology and innovation has exerted further pressure on information professionals and other stakeholders to develop and appropriately apply bibliometrics and altmetrics to inform decision-making and policy-formulation processes. Research output and impact metrics are not only quickly evolving but their volume has been unprecedented. This paper’s focus is the application of bibliometrics and altmetrics by academic librarians to support researchers in their respective universities. The paper argues that there is need for up-skilling or re-skilling the 21st-century sub-Saharan African academic librarian to select and apply appropriate metrics, tools and strategies to support researchers as they execute their responsibilities. The paper offers possible areas of training for academic librarians.


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