And They Were There: The Hunter Forum – Journey to Research Impact

hunter forum_2015_ChicagoReported by Tom Gilson

In what is now an ALA Midwinter tradition, the Hunter Forum was held on Saturday, January 31, 2015 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.  Sponsored by Elsevier and entitled “Journey to Research Impact”, the 2015 version featured Christopher Erdmann, Head Librarian, Harvard Smithsonian Center for AstrophysicsEmily McElroy, Director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center; and  Wouter Haak, Vice President of Product Strategy, Elsevier. 

 The program was introduced by Catherine Gold, Director of Marketing, Research Solutions, North America at Elsevier.  Ms. Gold noted that the Hunter Forum started as the Elsevier Digital Library Symposium in 1998and wasre-launched as the Hunter Forum in 2013 in honor of Karen Hunter Karen Hunter, retired senior vice president who initiated the Digital Library Symposiums.

The first speaker Christopher Erdmann, focused his talk “Rewarding the Tool Builders” on tools for research – particularly those related to data, data citation and data curation. He started by referencing a presentation at the White House sponsored event “Data to Knowledge to Action: Building New Partnerships” in Nov. 2013 entitled  Harnessing The Potential of Data Scientists and Big Data for Scientific Discovery by Ed Lazowska, et. al.

He then went on to discuss specific tools including:

  • Github – a place where every developer (or aspiring developer) can share their source code and stories with the world… a huge and highly respected collaboration platform…
  • Zenodo – enables researchers, scientists, EU projects and institutions to share and showcase multidisciplinary research results (data and publications) that are not part of the existing institutional or subject-based repositories of the research communities. Zenodo also offers a GitHub integration.
  • Authorea – a tool for writing and managing scholarly documents intended for technical, scholarly, and scientific writing.
  • Programming Historian – an online, open access, peer reviewed suite of about 30 tutorials that help humanists (though slanted towards historians) learn a wide range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows to facilitate their research.

Mr. Erdmann also discussed the utility of Python a widely used general-purpose, high-level programming language and choosing an open source license that allows software to be freely used, modified, and shared.

The second speaker was Emily McElroy, Director of the McGoogan Library of Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center.  In her talk entitled “Managing Researcher Reputation and Metrics” Ms. McElroy first pointed out the importance of the relationship among the university research office, the library, and the researcher in this process. She continued by observing that that metrics were increasingly being used to help evaluate a variety of things ranging from research impacts to return on investment to who is likely to continue getting funding, not to mention the distribution of lab space and who should be in the same research tower.

Using anecdotes from her work at University of Nebraska Medical Center and her prior experience at Oregon Health and Science University, Ms. McElroy then discussed ways of gathering the need metrics by examining factors like:

  • the amounts and types of funding
  • patents, licenses and other evidence of innovation
  • publication information like authorship, citations, etc.

She also thought that we should look at other metrics in our analysis like benchmarking, field weighted citation impact, altmetrics, and the H-Index (which attempts to measure both the productivity and citation impact of the published body of work of a scientist or scholar.)

Ms. McElroy also highlighted the need to educate faculty about these newer measurements like H-Index and altmetrics.

The last presenter was Wouter Haak, Vice President of Product Strategy, Elsevier who discussed his “Vision of the Researcher Journey” exploring the pressures upon today’s researcher as well as his/her needs.

Mr. Haak started by observing that judging and evaluating the researcher is no longer as easy as it once was.  He noted that researchers are being impacted by a number of factors and concerns including:

  • social networks
  • data management
  • open access
  • funding requirements
  • fierce competition
  • human capital
  • corporate dynamics

He also noted that researchers must spend time networking and developing collaborations as well as on justifications like return on investment and showing how their grants impact society.

According to Mr. Haak, we can help the researcher by building tools to support networking and collaboration so researchers can get back to spending more time doing research.  He then focused on Elsevier’s efforts noting that there is now a single login for Elsevier services and discussed a number of them including usage alerts, the author and research dashboards, the article recommender, and the personal awareness page.

The Q&A session followed and a number of issues came up including:

  • the increased level of competition
  • concerns about too much openness
  • researchers being tracked all the time
  • need for balance between collaboration and how much information is being divulged
  • the lack of similar metrics in the humanities/social sciences
  • identifying which collaboration tools are being used in different disciplines
  • the sharing of metrics among different publishers
  • the need for definitions and standards to aid librarians in explaining the new metrics
  • will Elsevier’s personalized services replace librarians
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