What Do Faculty Think About Researcher Profiles, Metrics, and Fair Research Assessment? A Case Study from a Research University in the Southeastern United States


How to best disseminate one’s research and get credit for one’s work? How to best and fairly assess the quality and impact of a given individual, group, or institution’s research? These are questions with which many are struggling, from individual researchers to departments, to a global world of research institutions. Recently, the Faculty Senate and University Libraries surveyed the faculty of our large, public research university to explore their perspective on these questions and more. In this presentation we present a summary of results from 501 respondents (out of 4451 faculty in total) representing different types of faculty (both within and outside of tenured and tenure-track positions), at different ranks, and from different disciplines. Results shared will indicate trends within the faculty on topics such as, the current most commonly used profile systems (top 5: Google Scholar, ORCID ID, LinkedIn, Elements (internal system), and ResearchGate); which profile systems are used most for: networking and connecting with colleagues (top 3: LinkedIn, Twitter, and ResearchGate), tracking research impact metrics (top 3: Google Scholar, ORCID, Elements (internal system)), showcasing one’s work to increase visibility (top 3:Google Scholar, ResearchGate, self-published sites); what types of research metrics are relied on (top 3: journal reputation (separate from impact factor), number of publications, and citation counts to individual works); the perceived fairness of evaluation by level of review (e.g., department, college, and university levels) and how they differ; and summaries of qualitative responses to questions such as why faculty rely on certain profile systems or research metrics, and perspectives on how fair research evaluation could be accomplished, within or across disciplines. Results will be summarized at the institutional level with breakout analysis of results from some disciplinary fields or other subsets.

For us, these results from faculty across a range of disciplines will help inform institutional policy and practice discussions about research tracking and evaluation, such as a responsible research assessment policy. Results will also inform our in-process implementation of an institutional researcher profiles systems, and training offerings on disseminating research and assessing its impact. As movements such as DORA (Declaration on Research Assessment) and the Leiden Manifesto for Research Metrics demonstrate, faculty, institutions, and funders are re-examining the way metrics are used and methods for demonstrating impact. This presentation on a university-wide survey that includes summary data and the survey questions used offers an example that could be adapted and repeated elsewhere to gauge current practices and faculty perspectives on how to change or move forward with research assessment across a range of disciplines and levels within a large, research institution.

Researcher Profiles, Research Metrics, Profile Systems, Networking Tools, Collaboration Tools, Research Impact, Research Assessment