VOSviewer goes online! (Part 2)

VOSviewer goes online! (Part 2)

Last week, CWTS colleagues Nees Jan van Eck and Ludo Waltman published a post in which they announced the launch of VOSviewer Online. Today, they discuss a new update of the regular stand-alone VOSviewer tool, offering additional possibilities for making VOSviewer visualizations available online.

Toward integration of data, computing, and tools

Bibliometrics is often equated with straightforward numerical indicators like publication and citation counts, journal impact factors, and h-indices. Without any doubt these are indeed the most often used items in the bibliometric toolbox.

However, the bibliometric toolbox is expanding in a number of important directions. Bibliometric data sources are becoming more open and more comprehensive in terms of the scholarly outputs they cover. Cloud computing offers flexible ways to perform complex large-scale bibliometric analyses. And bibliometric tools increasingly run on the web, often with a direct connection to the underlying data sources.

These developments are still in a relatively early stage, but they clearly show what is ahead of us. We are moving toward an increasingly integrated ecosystem of bibliometric data sources, computing platforms, and end-user tools, all operating in a fully online environment.

The launch last week of VOSviewer Online, a web-based version of our VOSviewer tool for visualizing bibliometric networks, contributes to the above developments. Today we released version 1.6.17 of the regular stand-alone VOSviewer tool, which is another step in the same direction. The new version of VOSviewer makes use of the opportunities offered by VOSviewer Online to provide an easy way to share visualizations online. It also offers support for the Lens, a freely accessible bibliometric data source that is becoming increasingly popular. 

Sharing VOSviewer visualizations online

VOSviewer has a new share feature that allows interactive VOSviewer visualizations to be made available online. This feature can be used to upload the network visualized in VOSviewer to a cloud storage service. At the moment three services are supported: Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Dropbox. The network will be uploaded in a VOSviewer JSON file, a new file type supported by VOSviewer. Using the JSON file available in the cloud, the network will then be opened and visualized in VOSviewer Online, the new web-based version of VOSviewer that we released last week.

A next step is to use the share feature in VOSviewer Online to obtain a link to the interactive network visualization in VOSviewer Online. This link can be used to share the visualization with others. In addition, as discussed in last week’s blog post, it is also possible to embed the visualization in a web page.

Support for the Lens

VOSviewer provides support for constructing bibliometric networks based on data from a broad range of open data sources, including Crossref, Europe PMC, Microsoft Academic, OpenCitations, and PubMed. Some of the other data sources supported by VOSviewer, such as Dimensions, offer free access to (parts of) their data, but they do impose restrictions on how the data can be used.

VOSviewer version 1.6.17 offers support for constructing bibliometric networks based on data exported from the Lens. Data from the Lens is freely accessible for personal use with very few restrictions. Institutions need a subscription to use the institutional tools provided by the Lens or to use data from the Lens commercially. However, the Lens has an equitable access policy promising that “no one will ever be disadvantaged by lack of access to Lens.org institutional tools”. Importantly, the export feature in the web interface of the Lens is very generous. It enables users to export data for up to 50,000 records, which compares favorably with other data sources.


Below we show a visualization of a co-authorship network of researchers at Leiden University and their external collaborators. This visualization illustrates the new features introduced in VOSviewer version 1.6.17. We used the new version of VOSviewer to construct the co-authorship network based on data from the Lens and to make the network available in the cloud by uploading it to Google Drive. VOSviewer Online is used to present an interactive visualization of the network. While this example is based on data from the Lens, any data source supported by VOSviewer can be used to create interactive online visualizations.

More detailed information is provided in the video below.

What is next?

There is an increasing demand for new forms of bibliometrics that provide richer and more contextualized information than traditional one-dimensional bibliometric indicators. New forms of bibliometrics for instance play an important role in the development of more responsible approaches to research assessment. We see the trend toward an integrated ecosystem of bibliometric data sources, computing platforms, and end-user tools as a key enabling factor for these new forms of bibliometrics.

Last week’s release of VOSviewer Online and today’s update of the regular VOSviewer tool represent two small steps within the broader trend toward integration of data, computing, and tools. One of the next steps that we are working on is the integration of VOSviewer visualizations in the Dimensions platform, as announced at the recent ISSI 2021 conference.

In the longer term, we envision the emergence of online platforms in which bibliometric data sources, facilities for cloud storage and cloud computing, algorithms for large-scale data analysis, and a broad range of tools for end users will all be connected to each other. We see VOSviewer Online as a building block for such platforms. It seems likely that stand-alone tools such as the regular version of VOSviewer will become obsolete in the longer term.

The integration of bibliometric data sources, computing platforms, and end-user tools is in an early stage of development. There is still a lot of work to do. We look forward to joining forces with colleagues and partners in the bibliometric community to take next steps on this exciting journey!


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