As academic publishing models continue to evolve and as open access requirements for researchers gain momentum, libraries at colleges and universities should not overlook opportunities to enhance their valued services, especially where metrics are concerned. Measuring success qualitatively and quantitatively is of great importance to leadership in the academic environment, connected to needs for promotion and tenure review for individuals as well as for accreditation for each institution as a whole, and often for some of its component schools. From recent anthropological studies of academia, it is clear that professors create themselves out of their graduate students from molds that their mentors cast them from, so inertia is significant in this system. Their evaluative measures of quality and quantity have been rigid for generations, but new media, new tools, and new expectations surrounding scholarly communication represent a significant shift that is now underway.
As librarians have begun to create repositories for researchers on their campuses, and as we populate these archives with data sets, articles, and other professional work, we are able to manage and monitor such points as usage and citation statistics. Libraries could combine this information with professors’ self-profiles and available external stats to become the definitive source to produce required reports for promotion and tenure review processes. It is librarians who specialize in name disambiguation via “authority control” lists, with the latest progress in this field manifesting itself in tools like ORCID and VIAF, which allow us to assign clear responsibility for work to uniquely identified forms of names. It is librarians who have devised approaches such as FRBR to portray the many faces of expressing an idea, by which we could compile usage of pre-print or post-print versions of a work, or combine those if need be. It is librarians who have put forth the concept of altmetrics, an attempt to count ideas at some smallest, cellular level and then measure uptake and usage. It is librarianship as a profession that attempts comprehensive subject coverage with ontologies that aid managerial responsibility for collections of all types, with breadth and depth to support curricula all across our campuses.
Just as accountants and tax attorneys earn very decent livings by helping individuals and businesses navigate governmental taxation structures, so could academic libraries become the trustworthy source for expressing professional measurements for the purpose of academic accounting. Combined with visualization techniques that our repositories are beginning to develop as a specialty, we could supply tailored dashboard infographics that tell the story of an individual’s or a group’s status. As we manage and monitor repositories on our campuses, we could become trusted partners in statistical aspects.
Lowe, David, "A Visible Job to Do: Some thoughts on opportunities for libraries concerning academic professional metrics" (2013). Published Works. 46.