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Visualizing Research Performance

Bringing Strategic Insight to Research Management

Neal Katz, Elsevier | Jan 01, 2009

Today’s academic institutions are continuously looking for ways to improve their standing as world-class research bodies. Gaining a leadership position in research helps institutions recruit and maintain high-quality research staff. This, in turn, helps institutions compete for grant money.

To recruit the best faculty and improve grant proposal outcomes, administrators try to get the best data available to benchmark their strengths against peers, spot trends in interdisciplinary research where new strengths can be created, and evaluate potential staff candidates and collaborators. These efforts are labor-intensive and often inefficient due to a lack of comprehensive and objective information on these topics.

Painting a clearer picture

Recognizing the need for a high-quality and cost-efficient solution to this analytical problem, Elsevier has teamed with the academic research group SciTech Strategies to develop a strategic tool to measure research leadership and identify emerging trends where future leadership can be established.

Based on cocitation analysis and an innovative visualization technique, this tool uses the Scopus database to present a graphical view of an institution’s research performance from an interdisciplinary perspective. Rather than show individual subject areas, this visualizer creates a map or “Wheel of Science” that illustrates research performance across scientific areas (Figure 1). Each area of distinctive competency is presented as a circle within this wheel.

In addition, the reported information can be compared with the same type of information from top competing organizations. Thus the tool provides the following multifold benefits:

  • Identify specific areas of research excellence, and emerging strengths, to use as a benchmark of performance among other institutions.
  • Identify new research opportunities, by displaying areas of expertise in a multidisciplinary view.
  • Review competitive standing, by benchmarking performance against major competitors for each area of research (Figure 2). Also, determine areas of research leadership that are at risk of being overtaken by competition.
  • Search for collaborators, by determining potential sources for research collaboration.

This new research performance visualization tool is scheduled to be launched in 2009. Elsevier is actively engaging opinion leaders, like Library Connect readers, in order to fully understand the challenges you face when it comes to analyzing and evaluating your institutes’ research performance and positions. If you’re interested in being involved in the development process, please contact Research-performance@elsevier.com.

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