Many universities in the U.S. recognize the need for electronic systems that support faculty members in managing their professional information, identifying colleagues with specific areas of expertise for consultation, making their research and professional activities visible in order to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations, and facilitating consistent faculty activities reporting. Faculty activities have not been easily discoverable to colleagues with complementary research interests and have been reported differently within schools/college and some departments using different reporting forms and methods for reporting. The process has been labor intensive for both faculty members and administrators. Thus, UAB made the decision to identify a tool that would standardize reporting and support development of more complete and accurate data.
To identify the best tool UAB convened a committee with representatives from all of the schools to review and assess various data tracking systems. The Symplectic Elements System was selected because the product was intuitive to use and had more functionality than competing systems. The process of importing publications is easy and the system searches a wide variety of external data sources such as Scopus and PubMed, and open science networks. The system accepts data from various sources including Oracle, Banner, IRAP and other systems which facilitates streamlined management of professional activities and maintenance of current accurate curriculum vitae and facilitates analysis of research trends, strengths, and opportunities.
The UAB system is called Faculty Profiles and will be implemented in two phases. Phase I includes configuration of the system and the piloting of the product by the Schools of Health Professions and Engineering. Once the system is built so that it captures the specific data that the UAB Faculty needs, then the system will be rolled out to all other schools (Phase 2). Following implementation and refinement, the system will be integrated with the VIVO research network to facilitate cross-institutional and cross-disciplinary collaboration with a range of premier institutions of higher education.