Expert Finders Systems National Forum: February 2019 in Orlando, Florida

 

Jeff_Agnoli
Jeff Agnoli | The Ohio State University

The 2019 Expert Finders Systems Forum Report is now available.

Access presentations at http://expertfindersystems.org/Speakers.html

“Expert finder systems (EFS) have been serving universities, businesses, and the research community for more than two decades. However, there are still no formal venues for EFS stakeholders to network, learn from each other, and help steer the future of this dynamic field.” – EFS National Forum 2019

A group of ~5 NORDP members attended the EFS National Forum. Together with the more than 80 forum attendees, we explored:

  • the current administrative and research uses of these systems,
  • the need for new features and functions to support emerging uses,
  • best practices for building and managing expert finder systems and
  • strategies for enhancing stakeholder engagement.

We also discussed the economic development impacts of EFS on a regional, state and national level. The forum also explored the possibility of establishing a professional organization to provide leadership and develop ongoing events.

Attendees included many of the established and emerging vendors/partners in this space, librarians, researchers, informatics and social science faculty, research development, foundation and corporate relations professionals.

Robert McDonald, Dean of Libraries at UC Boulder, delivered a compelling keynote address. He provided a history of these tools citing their existence since the early 1990s, first in Europe and then spreading to other countries. He referenced an important study, see euroCRIS (Current Research Information Systems) Survey http://bit.ly/2TgQX1b, detailing “Practices and Patterns in Research Information Management: Findings from a Global Survey”, a 92-page report developed by OCLC, of Dublin, Ohio. He emphasized the role of the library as the system leader, “owner of the citation” and their responsibility to support and promote adoption of these tools. UC Boulder is training people in how to build their profiles and drive impact.

He introduced all of us to the made-up word “collabatition” which reminded me of “Team Science”, detailed the library as a trusted broker of data (or keep of the citation), the need to build a larger distributed network, and establish linked data as people move from institution. The EFS, at its core, is about the impact of our faculty member’s work.

Other presentations featured how these systems can educate early career researchers, identify potential collaborators, recruit individuals for peer review service, improve the status of the discipline, boost research through media/journalist relations, drive industry-sponsored research, and promote self/research activities. Presenters shared their success stories ranging from the number of visits/month to their site, to industry-sponsored research agreements, student research partnerships, and postdoc recruitment.

The EFS have three main audiences which include (1) Researchers, (2) Community Members/Industry, and (3) Managers/Research Administrators.

A highlight of the Forum for me was the presentation from Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University. His team has leveraged these systems and social science research to develop “Team Recommender Systems” which will influence the future of work at Northwestern University and beyond.

Noshir shared what has to be one of the best workshop titles: “Why Netflix thinks I am gay and Amazon thinks I am pregnant.” His message illustrates the limitations of analytics and the challenge of consuming data from multiple sources. As any of us in RD know, simply knowing our faculty members’ keywords is not enough to build a cohesive team; the process is much more nuanced. His description of “traditional teams as hierarchical versus self-assembled and more organic” speaks directly to the need for RD professionals to leverage creative collaborations and provide a high-touch vs a high-tech solution. Our sponsors desire authentic, transdisciplinary collaborations to solve the most challenging questions of our time.

Another high point was the concierge engagement model developed by New York State’s FuzeHub. They are leveraging the power of a Salesforce-like platform to capture leads, engage with industry through regular education/outreach, and drive industry-sponsored research. It is an exceptional and highly successful example of entrepreneurship and higher education. As a member of the core team leading to the implementation of the Ohio Innovation Exchange, launched in Novemeber of 2018, we are eager to adopt some of these practices to promote our site.

The EFS Steering Committee will continue to meet and discuss the meeting evaluation/feedback and chart a course for the future. For example, EFS could collaborate with NORDP and plan a joint conference, become an affinity group, or establish themselves as a new professional association. Stay tuned.

Submitted by Jeff Agnoli, The Ohio State University. My attendance at this forum was co-sponsored by NORDP’s Strategic Alliances Committee. Thank you.

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