Change is the only constant (Heraclitus) – Bibliometric practices and activities at the University of Vienna RELOADED

“The beginning is the most important part of the work”

Once upon a time – in 2009 to be more precise – a bibliometrics department was implemented within the realms of the Vienna University Library. This was a remarkable move, given that bibliometrics had not yet gained momentum in Austria at that time. Moreover, no library in Austria had previously dedicated itself to this field in such depth.

“The real secret to success is enthusiasm”
Walter Chrysler

The strategic foresight to incorporate bibliometrics as an additional research support service quickly proved beneficial. Within just three years, our bibliometrics department became extensively involved in various practices and activities. It extended its consultancy and expert analysis services to our in-house research administration and researchers, and external customers. Moreover, our department actively engaged in teaching endeavors (successfully launching the European Summer School for Scientometrics (esss) in collaboration with international partners in 2010), established strategic development partnerships with the industry, engaged in multiple projects, and contributed to the scientific discourse by organizing and attending events and conferences, while also producing scientific output.

“Do good and talk about it”
Popular German saying, likely the oldest PR quote

In 2012, the department aimed to share its success and inspire others to follow suit.  Consequently, we published an article detailing our bibliometric practices and services in an international journal (Gumpenberger et al., 2012), which garnered considerable attention and continues to do so.

“Pantha rhei – everything flows”
concept in the philosophy of Heraclitus

More than a decade has elapsed since then. Quantitative research assessment has gained momentum, with peer review facing limitations due to the continuously expanding research output. However, several initiatives, such as the San Francisco Declaration, the Leiden Manifesto and COARA, increasingly criticize unfair bibliometric practices.

The portfolio of commercial bibliometric data sources has expanded with Dimensions, and citation metrics have been complemented by altmetrics. Persistent identifiers like DOI, ORCID iD and ROR now enhance data quality and increase individual and institutional visibility. Moreover, the Open Access movement has evolved to a more diverse Open Science universe.

Lastly, the world has grappled with a pandemic, transforming academia and society in various ways.

So, what has happened to our bibliometrics department in the meantime?
It is a good time to take stock again.

“Success comes from curiosity, concentration, perseverance and self-criticism”
Albert Einstein

The good news upfront: our department not only survived but thrived. It has been rebranded as the “Department for Bibliometrics and Publication Strategies,” emphasizing proactive utilization and benefits, especially for our researchers. We pride ourselves on applying a responsible and multi-dimensional approach to bibliometrics in research assessment.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of developments since the publication of our article in 2012:

  • Our analytical standard portfolio has significantly expanded, providing extensive bibliometric reports for individual assessments, faculty evaluations, professorial appointment procedures, and tenure track procedures.
  • Moreover, we regularly support our rectorate with our expertise in manifold ways (SDGs, cooperation analyses, reputation management, media attention, analyses and visualizations for the university’s Development Plan, etc.) and still provide expert analyses for external customers.
  • In addition to the Web of Science Core Collection (complemented with InCites Benchmarking & Analytics) and Scopus, we have licensed Altmetric and Dimensions from Digital Science as additional bibliometric data sources. Google Scholar has recently been replaced by OpenAlex.
  • The exploratory use of altmetrics has finally transitioned to standard application.
  • ORCID has been embraced as an international standard for persistent identification of researchers, with the University of Vienna joining as an institutional member in 2018 and now co-leading the ORCID Austria consortium, which came into being in 2019 and has grown from initially 11 to 24 members in 2024. The Works section in the ORCID record is a crucial means for standardized publication lists, which are the basis for bibliometric analyses of external applicants in professorial appointment procedures and tenure track procedures.
  • Since 2020, our department has heavily relied on meticulous process documentation, with manual Excel-based analysis procedures shifting to R-based automated routines for greater efficiency.
  • Our department played a leading role in creating the “Recommendations of the Rectorate to increase the visibility of academic publications” and revising our affiliation policy.
  • We actively participated in big national projects, such as e-infrastructures Austria resulting in a report, which has received widespread attention (Bauer et al., 2015). We are currently in charge of sub-project 5 of AT2OA2, which investigates among others, whether Open Access contributes not only to enhancing the accessibility of scientific literature but also to fostering increased visibility. The primary focus will be on new forms of scientific communication that generate so-called online attention and can be measured by altmetrics.
  • Consultancy services regarding bibliometrics and publication strategy for researchers have gained more prominence.
  • Last but not least, the European Summer School for Scientometrics (esss) now enjoys a high international reputation. Registration will open soon, and Vienna is looking forward to many interested attendees.

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is to not stop questioning.”
Albert Einstein

Our lessons learned thus far:

  • Demand: There is an increasing demand for expanded and customized bibliometric services.
  • Zeitgeist: We face the challenge of increasingly complex and multidimensional research assessment, necessitating up-to-date and responsible quantitative approaches.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration with researchers, research administrators, peers, and industry is essential for added value.
  • Standardization & automation: Standards for bibliometric approaches and methods, alongside increasingly automated processes, will be indispensable in the future.
  • Recognition: Growing expertise and reputation have led to increasing appreciation and positive feedback from researchers, research administrators, and peers.



Bauer, B., Ferus, A., Gorraiz, J., Gründhammer, V., Gumpenberger, C., Maly, N., Mühlegger, J. M., Preza, J. L., Sánchez Solís, B., Schmidt, N., & Steineder, C. (2015). Researchers and Their Data. Results of an Austrian Survey – Report 2015. Zenodo.

Gumpenberger, C., Wieland, M., & Gorraiz, J.I. (2012). Bibliometric practices and activities at the University of Vienna. Library Management, 33, 174-183.

Photo of author

Dr Christian Gumpenberger

Dr Christian Gumpenberger (ORCID) serves as the Head of the Bibliometrics and Publication Strategies Department of the Library and Archive Services, University of Vienna.

24 thoughts on “Change is the only constant (Heraclitus) – Bibliometric practices and activities at the University of Vienna RELOADED”

  1. It is a pleasure to benefit from the bibliometric expertise of Christian Gumpenberger and his team in evaluations that we perform at the University of Vienna. In applicable fields and in addition to peer review, their multi-dimensional scientometric analyses provide an important quantitative in-depth look. I enjoy our cooperation very much!

    Michael Hofer, Head of Quality Assurance at the University of Vienna

  2. Thank you very much for providing this excellent overview of the bibliometric services at the University of Vienna. I have been observing the developments at the University of Vienna for quite some time and am impressed by the level of competence and expertise that has been established within this department. The department serves as a benchmark and goal to aspire to for our own services.
    We look forward to collaborating on research support services in the future!
    On a personal note: I like the quotes a lot. 🙂

  3. The department is an essential pillar of the research support services at the Vienna University Library. It provides important impulses, including the use of the ORCID iD in repositories. Thank you for the many years of constructive and enriching collaboration!

  4. As a researcher at the University of Vienna, I got so much continuous support from the bibliometric team over the last years – this is highly appreciated. You contributed to my success, and your inputs have been eye-opener for years. Your input is marvellous, and so important for us researcher. THANKS for that! Please keep going!!!

  5. The team of the bibliometrics department is a great asset for the University of Vienna, especially for the Faculty of Chemistry. The department headed by Christian Gumpenberger supports the faculty with its bibliometric expertise in many areas. The bibliometric services include good cooperation in various appointment procedures, tenure track procedures as well as faculty evaluations. Many thanks for the great support. Keep up the good work.

    Ingrid Brunner-Sauermann, Head of Dean’s office of the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Vienna

  6. As a research analytics provider, we deeply value our collaboration with the bibliometrics team at University of Vienna. Whether it’s partnering on AT2OA2, scientometric projects, Altmetric access provision during ESSS, or feedback on using Dimensions and Altmetric, we believe their expertise benefits the research community greatly!!

  7. I remember when I started at Altmetric in 2014, the bibliometrics colleagues of Vienna were inescapable. They were at every conference, very often speaking in the same events as me. They wrote many of the major bibliometric studies. This update from Christian redoubles my impression – they were not only the first in Austria, but they are among the leaders globally of bibliometric work. Congratulations on this huge renovation!

  8. I can personally attest to Bibliometric Department’s significant contribution to the development of bibliometric best practices and research support services, which extends well beyond national borders. Their inspiring and reproducible operational models led us to launch a bibliometric unit at our university in 2015. As a matter of fact, despite the stark differences between the institutional contexts in Italy and Austria, they have served as our role model for everything we did in the realm of “real-life” bibliometrics (as opposed to the fictional version of it available in countless articles and books on the subject). Thank you.

    Nicola De Bellis, Head of the Bibliometric Office, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy

  9. Very impressive achievements! Well done, Christian. It is great to see your continued engagement around scientific publishing, open access, and bibliometric practices. You have always been at the forefront of these initiatives. Already back in your Novartis’ days 15-20 years ago you were the driving force behind establishing an Institutional repository for Novartis research publications and promoting open access.

  10. I would like to mention/add the department’s initiatives with regard to the Social Sciences and Humanities: for years the Department of Bibliometrics and Publication Strategies has been involved in inquiring the multiplicities and specificities of research and publication cultures in SSH fields, e.g. by fostering debates and discussions in this regard within the University of Vienna [1] and through contributing to existing scholarship on the issue [2]. It was a great pleasure to participate in these endeavors, trying to bring in an STS perspective. I have been further pursuing related issues in my PhD at the Department of Science & Technology Studies at the University of Vienna. I want to use this opportunity to publicly thank Christian and the Vienna University Library for their continuous support in this regard and I am looking forward to our future work that intends to closely combine quantitative blibliometric analyses and qualitative approaches on the matter.


  11. From the perspective of the Rector’s Office of the University of Vienna, I want to extend my sincere appreciation for the remarkable work of the Bibliometrics team. Their expert analyses are indispensable for our Rectorate’s strategic research development. Christian and his team, not only provide invaluable insights and in-depth analyses for us but also actively contribute to the scientific community through high-level publications and conference participation. Their connections with key industry players ensure they keep us informed on the latest trends, enhancing our decision-making. I’m grateful for our ongoing collaboration and the exceptional expertise and professionalism of Christian and his team. Thank you for your dedicated service and contribution to our university’s success. I look forward to many more years of collaboration.

  12. The bibliometrics team at Universität Wien has played an important role as scientific pole in Central Europe. Christian and his colleagues are enthusiastic supporter of the community, newcomers and old timers alike. Their organization skills have been on regular display when they warmly welcomed us at ISSI, STI, and ESSS. I have found memories of these events which were always first rate and among the best opportunities to make progress in the field.

  13. Christian and his team has helped us tremendously at the Environment and Climate Research Hub (ECH) with questions around organising publications and fundings from Hub Members across Faculties. They have been extremely pro-active and professional and given valuable bibliomtetric expertise to the ECH. I can also personally attest that they do their work with a good sense of humor!

  14. In my opinion, the early investment into scientometrics at Vienna has paid off. Not only are Christian and colleagues leading their field, they are also in the vanguard of developing data led publication strategy

  15. What an interesting read! As part of the corporate communications team at the University of Vienna, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Christian and his colleagues. Their insights, proactive approach, and commitment to excellence have immeasurably enriched our projects. Excited for what’s ahead! : )

  16. For the past five months my team and I have been implementing a CRIS, and we have benefited immeasurably from generous advice and guidance from Christian and his team. The expertise they have developed over more than a decade makes them a treasure, particularly now, as the very nature of quantitative evaluation of research is increasingly coming under scrutiny. There is no easy answer to this debate but it is encouraging to know that the team in the Department for Bibliometrics and Publication Strategies at the University of Vienna offer a deeper understanding than most, of the pros and cons of quantitative evaluation. Their voices are important and are needed now more than ever.

    Dr. Kenning Arlitsch, Director of the Library, Central European University, Vienna

  17. We are grateful for the bibliometrics team’s expertise and specialized knowledge, which are portrayed very accurately in this article. The support and competence shown in managing ORCID Austria deserve the highest compliments.
    Your services have undoubtedly helped strengthen the research community in Austria.
    We are already looking forward to your future activities.

  18. My experience with the bibliometrics department has been exceptionally positive. Some time ago, I created a guide to help our researchers increase the visibility of their research work. Seeking ideas and deeper insights, I turned to the bibliometrics department, renowned for their exceptional support. Christian invested a significant amount of time to explore a wide range of options with me. Moreover, he introduced me to altmetrics which are important to the humanities as they extend the visibility and impact of academic work beyond traditional citation metrics. The guide has turned out to be a tremendous success. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with them and I sincerely thank the team for their consistent and dedicated help!

    Beate Pamperl, Dean’s office of the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies

  19. Many thanks to the Biblioemtrics team! We have experienced a lot of expertise, support, sincere interest and innovation in our collaboration! In particular, the joint search for more valid measures of social impact as part of our faculty evaluation was very beneficial for us! Thank you very much and we are looking forward to many more joint searches! 🙂

  20. Christian Gumpenberger and his team have achieved something that is unique in Austria so far: They have given bibliometric and scientometric topics a library relevance, thus taking a first step towards opening the service portfolios of libraries to research-related support. This realignment ultimately led to a profound change in the self-understanding of libraries in general, especially at the University Library of Vienna (but not only there).
    Mr. Gumpenberger, his predecessor, and today’s team have capitalized on this new dynamic and, within the framework of a new training format, the “European Summer School for Scientometrics,” developed a widely supported instrument, ideal for sharpening the necessary competencies and skills, as well as enhancing international networking both among researchers and within the field.
    For these achievements and for your future commitment, heartfelt thanks!

  21. The collaboration with the team around Christian Gumpenberger is fantastic.
    The bibliometric analyses are because of their significance and high quality very helpful especially in the tenure track process. Keep up the excellent work.
    Kind regards
    Christian Alpas, Team Tenure Track

  22. You will hardly find another team with as much expertise in bibliometrics like Christian Gumpenberger’s. Their profound understanding of well established as well as emerging standards is remarkable and therefore also highly appreciated in national and international contexts. I value Christian’s opinion, wit and foresight highly and have enjoyed working with him on the ORCID Austria consortium a lot. Keep up the excellent work!

  23. I wholeheartedly agree. Many thanks to Christian for the fascinating content and essential information that every researcher should possess. I am eagerly looking forward to future training sessions.


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