Below, Barbara answers some questions about herself, her research and her career. A huge thanks to Barbara for taking the time, and for allowing us all to get to know her better!
- Why did you become a researcher?
I have always wanted to be a researcher. My interest in research started in my undergraduate years when I helped a professor as an undergraduate research assistant on a project. I had already fallen in love with bibliometrics during my second year in the Bachelor’s Degree in Library and Information Science in 2002. I thought that pursuing an academic career in this field would allow me to have a role in the contribution to its development.
- Describe a typical day at work
I like to keep myself organised in terms of project deadlines, meetings, and to-do lists. I always make sure to write down what I need to do each day. Usually, I do this the night before so that I am ready for the next day. As a new lecturer, I cannot say too much about that part of my role yet, but I spend some of my time preparing lectures and supervising MSc students on their projects. When I have a day without teaching or administrative tasks, I try to make the most of it and spend time on research. Depending on the project stage, I might spend time searching for literature in databases or doing data analysis. It is always exciting when I stumble upon something interesting and want to explore it further by looking at different angles.
- Who has influenced you most in your career so far and how?
I have to say, I have been really inspired by a lot of incredible women in science in my career. But when it comes to my personal icon in research, it is Marie Curie. Her unwavering dedication, persistence, and raw passion for discovery have shaped my own career as a researcher. I have read countless books about her ground-breaking contributions to her field, and this reflects in my own research trajectory. Her example has taught me the true value of science and has helped me stay focused and resilient even when things were not as expected.
- What is the greatest challenge you have ever undertaken?
Back in 2007, I had my first meeting with my PhD supervisor, Professor Vicente P. Guerrero Bote, where we discussed the research line for my PhD. We both decided that it would be on citation analysis, particularly citation flows among disciplines and countries. To contextualise my research, my supervisor sent me an article he produced in this field called “The Iceberg Hypothesis”. It was definitely a challenge for me to produce a similar analysis with a different database and data range, as I had never researched on my own before. However, I remained determined and did not give up. I was able to replicate the study, and my supervisor was very impressed with my work! The study was published in Scientometrics with me as the first author in 2010, even before I had completed my PhD. I felt incredibly proud of myself and was ready to pursue a career in research! Among all my papers, this one is particularly special to me as it marked the beginning of my research career. It was amazing to see my research results published for the first time and it made me feel more confident in my abilities as a researcher.
If you are interested, you can read the paper here:
The iceberg hypothesis revisited
- What is your greatest achievement?
I consider my greatest accomplishment to be everything I have achieved since I started my research career. There were many hours spent in the libraries of my hometown Badajoz producing papers while I was waiting for new job opportunities. But I persevered, even during the period when I was rejected from research roles. I had the motivation and resilience to continue publishing, and I found the energy to continue contributing to research even when I didn’t have the ideal infrastructure or environment to carry on research properly. All these experiences have contributed to the researcher I am right now. I learned that without settlement and job instability, research work can be very tough, but that taught me that with determination and hard work, anything is possible.
- If you could invite three people to dinner (past or present), who would they be?
I would love to invite some of the people who have had a significant impact on my life and career. Among those I have considered is Professor Miguel Angel Lopez Alonso who discovered me as a student back in 2004, I was an undergraduate research assistant in his national research project on the thesaurus of youth. Professor Maria Reyes Barragan who was my PhD research fellowship tutor and the first person who taught me Bibliometrics in 2002, Professor Felix de Moya Anegon who has been my co-author, founded the SCImago research group and whom I admire deeply.
- What is the best bit of advice you’ve ever received (work or personal)?
If you are looking to become an expert in a particular topic, the key is to be passionate about it. Immersing yourself in the subject matter will help you gain a deep understanding and become a go-to resource for others. Start by doing your research and reading as much as you can about the topic. Remember, becoming an expert is a journey, not a destination, so enjoy the process and keep learning.
- What would be the research project you’d most like to work on?
As someone who is passionate about research, I believe that there is a vast possibility for bibliometrics to be used to its full potential and in a more inclusive way in research assessment processes. It would be incredible to work on a project where we could consider different databases, and more indicators, and link all research achievements together. This could lead to a more comprehensive and accurate evaluation picture of research, benefiting everyone involved.
- My current research:
I am currently focusing on the work about research contributions to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using different bibliometric suites which I have recently presented at the International Society for Scientometrics and Informetrics Conference (ISSI 2023) hosted by Indiana University in Bloomington, USA on July 2-5, 2023. In addition, I have other projects happening concurrently, such as the one about the competencies model for bibliometric work and the code of practice for bibliometrics. It is a lot to juggle, but I am up for the challenge!