Establishing a bibliometrics and research impact team at Syracuse University

The following post is part of a series related to bibliometrics and research impact (BRI) services.

One of the things the OCLC Research Library Partnership (RLP) learned from a recent survey of our partner institutions was that librarians are eager to learn about the bibliometrics and research impact (BRI) practices of other institutions. 

The Research Impact Team at Syracuse University Libraries shared lessons learned from their institution in a recent presentation in the OCLC RLP Works in Progress webinar series. The slides and recording are now available: 

A highly collaborative, team-based approach

Like many RLP institutions, Syracuse University is keen to attain and retain top positions in national and global classifications and rankings, such as the Carnegie Classification, which designates Syracuse as one of 146 “Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity.” Colloquially known as “R1” status, this denotes the top tier of doctoral research universities in the United States. Supporting research and researchers is a strategic goal at Syracuse, and it has led to a team-based effort in the Syracuse University Libraries to support bibliometrics and research activities for a variety of stakeholders. 

A team of four subject librarians led by Research Impact Lead Emily Hart have been working since 2020 to define and pilot services, build relationships with stakeholders across campus, and develop skills and capacity to serve researchers and campus units.

Timeline of Research Impact service development in Syracuse University Libraries

To achieve their goal, the team has developed expertise in an array of products and services, with future skills development on the horizon:

BRI use cases by broad audience

One of the things that greatly impresses me about the work at Syracuse is their articulation of BRI use cases, sub-divided into three categories:

In their presentation, they provided rich examples of some of the ways they’ve been piloting services to support each of these groups. I’m including a short selection–you’ll find more in the recording: 

Individual researchers

Members of the Research Impact Team have worked closely with individual faculty members preparing for tenure and promotion by compiling reports about the impact of their research, using standard bibliometric indicators as well as altmetrics. In the future, they would also like to support reports that detail international impact and collaboration. This is a completely new offering from the Libraries, available only since 2020. 


The team has been engaged in education and outreach activities on topics like responsible research assessment and value-based research evaluation. Anita Kuiken, the Librarian for the Falk College of Sport & Human Dynamics, described their efforts to support interdisciplinary research institutes, such as the Aging Studies Institute. Because this type of interdisciplinary research institute brings together researchers from numerous campus units and departments, it can often be difficult to understand, quantify, and promote the institution’s research (and ultimately to ensure its success). The institute needed a better way to see and understand its affiliates, their grants, and the resulting publications. 

Through its role managing the campus RIM system, Experts@Syracuse, the team added an institute level profile into the system, along with its researchers. On the front end, this can provide much more transparency about the research activities of the institute, and they plan to use the Pure API to keep content updated on the institute website. They are now working to link research outputs to the relevant grant through database relation. It’s an ongoing process, but offers a way to answer questions that interdisciplinary institutes struggle to address. 


Incorrect authorship and affiliation information in citation databases like Scopus and Web of Science can negatively impact institutional rankings, and the library team has assumed responsibility for addressing these errors. This seems to be a common, early role for libraries when assuming BRI services. 

The library has also taken an active role in advocating for system-to-system interoperability, particularly between the multiple RIM systems on the campus. While the library maintains Experts@Syracuse, which primarily supports public portal, strategic reporting, and metadata reuse use cases at this time, the campus is also implementing a new faculty activity reporting (FAR) system, which is designed to support annual academic progress reviews and/or promotion and tenure (P&T) processes for academic staff. 

These systems support different workflows and needs, and having multiple systems makes sense in many cases. However, they do share a great deal of overlapping information, particularly as it relates to scholarly outputs, and this is why I consider them all RIM systems (I talk more about the multiple RIM uses cases in a previous blog and in last year’s OCLC Research report entitled Research Information Management in the United States). Syracuse University Libraries, through its BRI efforts, is well positioned to contribute to conversations about how bibliographic and potentially other data can and should move between campus systems, with the potential to support data sharing and reduce burdens of data entry and administration for faculty. As a result, the Libraries have had a seat at the table for the discussion and implementation planning of the new FAR system. 

Technical and social interoperability for the win

The Syracuse University Libraries team is interested in improved technical interoperability, and it is achieving this through strong social interoperability–the creation and maintenance of working relationships across individuals and organizational units that promote collaboration, communication, and mutual understanding. In particular, SU Libraries have developed a strong, trust-based relationship with other campus units, particularly the Office of Research, which they shared in another previous RLP webinar. In fact, this may be the most important part of the ENTIRE story–because without these trusted, collaborative relationships (what we call Social Interoperability here at OCLC Research), I would probably have had little to write about today. Many thanks to our presenters, Emily Hart, Brenna Helmstutler, Anita Kuiken, and Stephanie JH McReynolds, for sharing about their terrific work.

Tell us what’s happening at your institution

We know there is tremendous interest in the topic of bibliometrics and research impact. We invite our RLP partners to share their BRI activities through our Works in Progress webinar series.  With so many institutions still looking to develop services in this area, you may not feel you have enough for an entire webinar. If so, we invite you to share a lightning talk about your efforts—we can coordinate a short “show and tell” session representing the efforts of many institutions in a single webinar–helping us all to learn together. This is, after all, why we call this the “works in progress” webinar series! Send me an email (my contact details are below).