Wednesday 15 October 2008

Repository Benefits - Expertise Finding

The UK's continuing focus on research assessment has led some repository managers to offer the repository as the key means of gathering evidence of research outputs for their institutions. The experience of those repository managers has been distilled into a set of recommendations for repository management.

A notable consequence of our obsession with research assessment is an enhanced role for research management within the institution. Suddenly all the senior managers want to know how best to capitalize on our existing strengths to make the most of future funding and publishing opportunities. And that means knowing what our strengths are. And that means knowing what our researchers do. And how they work together to do it best. And that's where the repository comes in - capturing our institution's intellectual outputs and providing services over them.

So my boss has asked for our repository to provide an Expertise Finder - for him to be able to find out what groups of people are working together in any particular area.

As it turns out that was quite easy to do as the repository already creates "communities of practice" focused around each person -the screendump on the left is taken from my school publication page. The cloud of names shows all of my co-authors, and the size of each name is related to the number of times they have written a paper with me.

All we had to do was put that functionality into an export plugin so that the authors from any set of papers can be visualised in the same way. That way you can find out who is involved in a specific topic like "Web Science" by doing a search for "Web science" and exporting the results as an "author cloud". You can try it out on our repository.

Now he wants this as a network diagram so he can see the relationships between the named authors, how they fall into subgroups who work together, and which people link up the different groups. I think we'll have something developed soon, and I hope that it'll be useful to other repository managers!

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