by Jon Jeffryes
The School of Public Health’s communications team wanted to streamline its workflow and find out about more research being done at the school.
“We needed a research radar to alert us to potential stories” that feature School of Public Health (SPH) faculty and researchers, said Charlie Plain, a Writer/Editor with the SPH communications team.
The team tracked publications through a variety of individual interactions with faculty and staff, exchanging emails to identify upcoming publications. Plain and his colleagues wanted to increase their ability to track all the great research coming from the School of Public Health. They wanted a tool to scan research articles and provide a simple alert to notify the communications team.
Enter University of Minnesota Libraries and Caitlin Bakker, a Research Services Liaison at the Bio-Medical Library.
Bakker immediately identified a way to simplify the process. The new method she proposed would provide the School of Public Health communications team with the information they needed in regular automatic updates delivered to their inbox from a single data stream — cutting out time-consuming tasks and providing leads to interesting stories.
That data stream was Experts@Minnesota.
A massive amount of data
Experts@Minnesota contains a wealth of information about University of Minnesota research that can be used to meet a variety of campus needs. Its database contains researcher profiles from all disciplines at the University of Minnesota. More than 5,400 researchers and this includes faculty, research associates, research fellows, research directors, postdocs, and librarians.
Many people only know Experts@Minnesota as a platform that highlights research expertise and locates subject experts for possible collaboration. Since upgrading the underlying software two years ago, however, Experts@Minnesota now includes advanced reporting capabilities that allow departments and research groups to draw information out of the database and repurpose it for their own use.
The Libraries manages and maintains the Experts@Minnesota system. Libraries’ staff also advise and assist those seeking to use the resource and advocate user needs to the product’s development team.
‘Easy and very productive’
“The actual process of setting things up was not hard,” Bakker said. “It was a couple of meetings, some back and forth.”
These meetings allowed Bakker to learn the needs of the School of Public Health and apply them to her extensive knowledge of Experts@Minnesota to determine how they could best use its data to meet their needs and simplify their publication tracking process.
Bakker recollects a process of reverse engineering the information request.
“Here’s the goal you want to accomplish, now let’s work back from there to figure out how we actually help you accomplish that goal,” Bakker recalls. “There’s how to do something, but there’s also understanding what it is that you’re actually going to get.“
Bakker and other Libraries staff are able to filter out unnecessary data from Experts@Minnesota’s database and provide a tailored report that gives users only the information that they need.
“She quickly helped us sort through the mass of available information to streamline a report that gives us everything we need and nothing that we don’t,” Plain said. “The report generates at least a couple of stories each month. Working with the Libraries, and particularly Caitlin, has been easy and very productive.”
University faculty and staff interested in making use of Experts@Minnesota data can request or create one-time or scheduled reports of any type of information stored in Experts@Minnesota: Publications, awarded grants, media mentions, honors, and other types of researcher activities.
Reports can be run for an individual researcher, or for a department, college, institute, or center.
Contact Experts@Minnesota staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.