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Showcasing our institution's research: A look at UTA Libraries’ new consultation service

By Andy M. Herzog | June 18, 2018

University of Texas at Arlington Libraries

Student graffiti wall at University of Texas at Arlington Libraries entrance



At University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, we have developed a consultation service to help faculty understand their research metrics and expand their “resonance” — a term we use to mean both their digital identity and the dissemination of their research.  While some components of this service will be familiar to librarians, the combination of research metrics and resonance strategies has proven to be a successful new model.     



Before discussing the service in detail, it is important to explain why we are developing it. It is due to a combination of factors, some unique to the University of Texas at Arlington and others common to many universities.  UT Arlington has seen a vast amount of growth both in student population and in research productivity.  In 2016, UT Arlington reached the “R-1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity” category in the Carnegie Classification, yet our reputation has not increased as quickly as our growth.  Because of this, our university’s strategic plan emphasizes the promotion of faculty and their work.  At the same time, universities, governments, and grants are placing greater emphasis on research productivity and impact.  Many faculty are not aware of the various metrics, nor do they have time to retrieve them.  As one faculty member told me, they are spending their winter breaks trying to figure out what an h-index is. 



University of Texas at Arlington Libraries entrance 



Our service model consists of a consultation and a customized metrics report.  Influenced by the Becker Model for Assessment, the consultation involves a series of open-ended questions that touch upon an individual faculty member’s needs, research metrics, and impacts beyond academia.  At some point during the consultation, we discuss author-level metrics, journal-level metrics, and item-level metrics.  The most important question we ask is how they want to tell the story of their impact. This question goes beyond their interest in certain metrics and gets to a larger goal: what they want to say about themselves and their research. For example, one faculty member wanted to show their increased productivity at different stages of their career.  Another wanted to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of their work.



The discussion around metrics and their impact provides a great segue to discuss what faculty can do to increase their resonance. We will discuss Google Scholar profiles, ORCID, how to archive in our institutional repository, author’s rights, social media, open access, open education, and services such as SlideShare.  And because getting post-print and pre-print versions of articles from faculty can be difficult, we have found that collecting them during the consultation is a more successful strategy than requesting them after the fact.



After the consultation, we compile a customized report of the faculty member’s metrics. (See a short sample report.)  While faculty generally consider citations and journal impact factors the most important metrics, they are often also interested in usage metrics, captures, and sometimes even social media metrics.  The main tools we use are Plum Analytics, Publish or Perish, Journal Citation Reports, and SCIMago Journal and Country Rank.  Besides the standard usage metrics pulled in by Plum, we also have Plum integrated as a widget in our institutional repository to gather data there. See an example of the institutional repository widget above.



We strongly encourage the use of a Google Scholar profile, which makes the publish-or-perish pursuit less time-consuming.  While UTA Libraries subscribes to Plum, Plum does have a more limited free tool, as does Altmetric. For Plum, you add the DOI to end of this URL Our university is in the process of implementing Digital Measures, a type of faculty activity reporting software. When it is complete, we will have Plum data integrated into our faculty profile system, making it more widely available and findable. We also have a LibGuide, created by my colleagues Brooke Troutmen and Carol Byrne, for those who don't want a full consultation and report. (We do require the consultation in order to generate a report.)     



Throughout two years of offering this consultation service, we have had a positive response from faculty, both in satisfaction and in usage of the data we provided.  A key reason for the service’s success is how we structured it around faculty needs.  When UTA Libraries first explored Plum Analytics, I brought up the topic of altmetrics in passing conversation with a faculty member. Their initial confusion turned into annoyance as they wondered why we would introduce another tool to “judge” their productivity. However, this same faculty member’s perceptions changed when they encountered our marketing, which emphasized how the tool could support faculty promotion and the tenure approval process.  They reached out to us for a consultation and ended up including both usage metrics and social media metrics in their promotion and tenure application packet.



Andy Herzog is Department Head of Faculty Services and Online Engagement, University of Texas Arlington Libraries. You can contact him via email at or follow him on Twitter