The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

Pairing to increase efficient research

Drexel University and Thomson Reuters, a leading technology information company, entered into a partnership earlier in the year to create faculty profiles for University professors and researchers in order to increase the efficiency of University researchers. The first round of faculty profiles are being created now, and the first pilot profiles are scheduled to be up and running by early 2013.

Thomson Reuters’ Research Analytics Suite, which includes products such as InCites and Research In View, is the platform on which the faculty profiles are being built. The company provides the technological capabilities, but it is up to Drexel employees to input the data and make sure the system works for their needs.

“Our partnership with Drexel is a true win-win in that Drexel benefits from our focus and attention on its specific requirements. In our case, Thomson Reuters benefits by learning firsthand the most important needs of this diverse academic enterprise, enabling us to shape our solutions for Drexel and other universities,” David Kochalko, vice president of product and market strategy for the intellectual property and science business at Thomson Reuters, said.

Often, there are professors conducting similar research, whether they are employed at the same university or not. By creating faculty profiles, it allows for researchers to be aware of what their peers are doing. This opens the door for potential collaboration and at the very least helps professors avoid doing similar or identical projects.

The faculty profiles will also allow for program and performance reviews. “[The system will] create a comprehensive database of our faculty output, … [including] citations in publications, creative expressions [like] performances and exhibitions, civic engagement, services to associations, [and] grants. … In a way we want to ultimately celebrate and honor our faculty’s work,” Danuta Nitecki, Drexel’s dean of libraries, said.

Even within the same department or college, there is often a lack of communication that leads to research inefficiency. Murugan Anandarajan, who is a professor in the LeBow College of Business and head of the Department of Management, explained that knowledge is an asset and should be managed like one.

“A tool like this is basically like an enterprise resource planning tool, where it’s a centralized thing and everyone can find out what everyone else is doing. The other thing is that the University will know who’s doing what. … It’s an asset management tool, a knowledge management tool,” Anandarajan said.

Especially with researchers around the world all conducting individual projects, it is easy for people to be working on similar things. The main problem with this is that the research isn’t documented until it’s published in a journal, and the submission, editing and reviewing process can take years.

“You have no idea if someone is working on the same thing. And then, quite a few times, when I’m in the first review or the second review, … a [similar] article gets published. Then I have to find out how to tweak it to make it different, and that’s pretty common because you have no idea what other people are doing,” Anandarajan said.

With all of the data now organized and available, it will be easier to conduct program and performance reviews to see which professors, departments and colleges at Drexel are the most successful. Drexel will also be able to be compared with other universities and colleges.

Drexel will now also have access to all of Thomson Reuters’ citation information, which will help calculate the impact that Drexel researchers are having on the rest of the academic community.

“It’s not enough to just say, ‘I published an article.’ But what kind of journal was it in? How many people have cited it? Where has it been cited? And there are ways to quantify that?” Nitecki said.

Even though the system is designed for professors to create faculty profiles, students will feel some residual benefits of the partnership. Drexel is focused on becoming a strong research institution, and with an organized collection of research data, Nitecki thinks that will help the University tell its story.

“[It will enable Drexel to] broaden our partnerships globally, … to recruit and retain the best faculty and the best students, … and in the long run I would claim that will make [Drexel degrees] more valuable because people will be associating the worth of Drexel … with innovation and research,” Nitecki said.