Informatics/Data Services Specialist
Health Sciences Libraries
University of Minnesota
There is a long tradition in academia of developing methods to assess the scholarly output and impact of researchers. Although many such metrics, including the h-index, have been broadly adopted across disciplines, there continues to be a limited awareness of their limitations and true domain of applicability, particularly at the level of administrative review. At the University of Minnesota Medical School, a recent mandate from the office of the dean to keep faculty and departments accountable for their output and impact has stimulated a drive in the University Libraries to redefine how existing measures like h-index, publication count, citation count, and distribution of publications over time are interpreted, as well as identify novel measures of scholarly output and impact that are simple and meaningful. To this end, I have been developing an interface that produces profiles of scholarly output and research metrics for Medical School faculty while exploring new ways to contextualize, through visualization and statistical analyses, these metrics to inform their responsible interpretation. The colossal data maneuvers and resources involved in this project have thrust the University Libraries into much discussion about the architectural and design considerations that must be made to develop a model of Libraries’ support for the evolving landscape of metrics that is sustainable over the long term. In this case, sustainability is defined not only in terms of the human and technological resources required to meet capacity for rapidly evolving needs, but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, in terms of the intellectual framework through which new sources and forms of scholarly data are stewarded to ensure higher understanding.