Research ∕ Learning

Reputation enhancement

Lorcan 3 min read

Reputation management on the web – individual and institutional – has become a more conscious activity for many, as ranking, assessment and other reputational measures are increasingly influenced by network visibility. In particular, it raises for academic institutions an issue that has become a part of many service decisions: what is it appropriate to do locally? What should be sourced externally? And what should be left to others to do?
Think, for example, of faculty profiles: the managed disclosure of expertise and research activity. This has often been an informal personal or departmental activity. However, there is now a variety of institutional initiatives which may pull together data about expertise, experience, publications, grants, courses taught, and so on (see OSU Pro at OSU, or Vivo at Cornell, for example). Such initiatives may sit between between several organizational units on campus: Research Support, PR/Communications, IT, Library. They are also at the intersection of different systems: enterprise (Peoplesoft, for example), course lists, research/grants management, bibliographic. At the same time, researchers may have presences in emerging network level research social networks (Mendeley or Nature Network for example), in disciplinary resources (Repec, for example), and, of course, in general use services (Linkedin, for example). There are also commercial services which support such activity in different ways, Community of Science or Symplectic for example.
In this context, here is a note about several unrelated initiatives which I have come across in the last week or so. I don’t try and create a single narrative around them, but together I think they point to this emerging sense of reputation management (or enhancement) as an important if not yet fully clear service category.
We are exploring such a service category in our Research Information Management theme. It looks at the intersection of library services and research administration on campus, and we are thinking about the variety of library services which might emerge (which include, in the context of this entry, bibliographic support, bibliometric advice, effective disclosure of expertise and research to the web, advice about SEO and copyright, and so on).
VIVO: research and expertise across Cornell. Some colleagues from Cornell visited last week (see details and video of Anne Kenney’s presentation here) and VIVO came up in discussion.

VIVO (not an acronym) brings together in one site publicly available information on the people, departments, graduate fields, facilities, and other resources that collectively make up the research and scholarship environment in all disciplines at Cornell. [About VIVO]

Managed within the Library, it draws together a lot of data from various sources. Interestingly, it is based on Vitro, an ‘Integrated Ontology Editor and Semantic Web Application’.
Bibliometrician. The University of Leicester Library advertised for a ‘bibliometrician’ whose role would be “to provide high-level expertise and advice to the University on the use of bibliometrics and related policies in the external and internal evaluation of the quality of the University’s research”
Mendeley. My colleague John MacColl wrote a blog entry about Mendeley last week. Mendeley describes itself as being like “iTunes for research papers”: “Organize, share, and discover research papers! Mendeley is a research management tool for desktop & web. You can also explore research trends and connect to other academics in your discipline.” John contrasted Mendeley and institutional repository incentives and user experience for researchers. Mendeley is one of several social networking sites aimed at researchers.
Manchester escholar. The University of Manchester launched its repository service. The first line of its mission reads: “sustain and enhance the research reputations of individuals and organisations affiliated with The University of Manchester”. It is also interesting to read the ‘project business case and benefits‘ which have a strong reputation management focus. The first benefit for the research is “increase the visibility of your research findings, your work is easier to disseminate, easier to find and easier to read”. The second emphasizes convenience: “make it easier to manage your list of publications on your personal website and your organisations website”. For institutions, the first-listed benefit is “demonstrate to its employees, in particular the academic community, that individuals and their work are valued, by supporting mechanisms that reduce workload and maximise the benefits to them of their efforts” and the third is to “increase the visibility, reputation and prestige of the institution”.
Ranking economists and Repec. Greg Mankiw is a Harvard economist, text-book writer, high profile blogger and sometime chair of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors. He refers from time to time to a ranking of economists generated by Repec. He wrote a note about this year’s Nobel prize last week, and pointed to the Repec ranking, noting that 6 out of the top 10 on the list had already won. The rankings are based on data about authors who have registered with the Repec Author Service, which aims “to link economists with their research output in the RePEc bibliographic database”. Authors get a profile page and also receive statistics about downloads of their papers and citations to them. Many rankings are generated from the system.
Finally, I noticed the following tweet from Danah Boyd “It pains me when academics don’t take care of their search engine presence. RateMyTeacher should never be an academic’s top result”.
Search engine presence is increasingly important to people and to institutions … reputation management is emerging as a new service category which should be of interest to libraries.

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