University reputation and ranking — getting the researchers on board

In the first of this series of blog posts about the OCLC Research Library Partnership June meeting in San Francisco, Jim compared the US to other parts of the world in terms of their engagement with research reputation and ranking.  He highlighted one of the things that was common to all of the geographic areas represented at the meeting:  the need for a balance between compliance and service goals.  The library does not want to be seen by researchers as a cop enforcing mandates and gathering assessment data, but rather as a source of support for, if not collaboration in, their research.  As Google Scholar’s Anurag Acharya put it, “Conflicting imperatives abound.”

RRRTo ensure that researchers are motivated to participate in activities that contribute to university reputation and ranking, the services we design to meet reputation and ranking goals need to deliver benefits to researchers.  Some of the ways libraries can offer benefits that resonate with researchers are:

  • Reduce the number of times they have to input data.  Register them with ORCID and ISNI.  Assign DOIs for their outputs.  And libraries should speak with a unified voice in attempting to get key research workflow tools to output information as input to other systems.
  • Leverage the library’s mastery of data by populating the profile system, creating personal bibliographies, helping them to find collaborators.  Make sure to accommodate multiple contributors and their roles.  Automate processing, but allow researcher to edit.  Look at how popular Google Scholar is and emulate some of its features locally.
  • Offer guidance on increasing the impact of their work and deploying their outputs where they will receive better exposure.

Measurement of impact favors the sciences by focusing on citation in high-impact STEM journals.  The library can be an ally in providing a more complete record of scholarship by:

  • Including monographs, performances, and other forms of output for arts and humanities disciplines.
  • Considering how awards, tech transfer, and altmetrics fit into the picture.
  • Finding ways to highlight interdisciplinary and global studies.
  • Considering including staff and student research.
  • Working with other libraries to get vendors to incorporate other sources (humanities and social science indexes, WorldCat, etc.) into their systems.

The Library is often seen as a neutral party and therefore could be instrumental in promoting reputation, ranking, and related services on campus. Here are some ways to grease the skids:

  • Take advantage of the library’s space and the library’s power to convene
  • Talk about what you can do, not how you can do it (i.e., don’t use words like: hydra/fedora, infrastructure, IR)
  • By streamlining processes, turn the IR into an institutional bibliography into which/from which all data about research outputs flows: consolidate infrastructure, eliminate redundant work, embed the OA Policy / data management requirements within known processes, include restricted content, promote good metadata practices (full names, contributor roles, etc.), integrate data-tracking activities…
  • Be sensitive about faculty perceptions about assessment.  You may need to overcome researcher distrust of productivity measures and their anxiety about how the data will be combined and used – and who will have access to it.
  • Make your goal to tell the story of your university’s contributions to society.  Connect researchers to that story and to university ranking, both of which are based on researcher reputation.

By doing these things the library will be seen less as an “instrument of compliance” and more as a Partner in achieving the institution’s research goals.

See the presentations by Peter Schiffer, Ginny Steel, David Seaman, Catherine Mitchell, and Amy Brand from whence all these good ideas and more.  And stay tuned for our next installment of outcomes from the meeting.