Tackling the "so what" problem in scientific research: a systems-based approach to resource and publication tracking.

Harris PA, Kirby J, Swafford JA, Edwards TL, Zhang M, Yarbrough TR, Lane LD, Helmer T, Bernard GR, Pulley JM
Acad Med. 2015 90 (8): 1043-50

PMID: 25901872 · PMCID: PMC4519358 · DOI:10.1097/ACM.0000000000000732

Peer-reviewed publications are one measure of scientific productivity. From a project, program, or institutional perspective, publication tracking provides the quantitative data necessary to guide the prudent stewardship of federal, foundation, and institutional investments by identifying the scientific return for the types of support provided. In this article, the authors describe the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research's (VICTR's) development and implementation of a semiautomated process through which publications are automatically detected in PubMed and adjudicated using a "just-in-time" workflow by a known pool of researchers (from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College) who receive support from Vanderbilt's Clinical and Translational Science Award. Since implementation, the authors have (1) seen a marked increase in the number of publications citing VICTR support, (2) captured at a more granular level the relationship between specific resources/services and scientific output, (3) increased awareness of VICTR's scientific portfolio, and (4) increased efficiency in complying with annual National Institutes of Health progress reports. They present the methodological framework and workflow, measures of impact for the first 30 months, and a set of practical lessons learned to inform others considering a systems-based approach for resource and publication tracking. They learned that contacting multiple authors from a single publication can increase the accuracy of the resource attribution process in the case of multidisciplinary scientific projects. They also found that combining positive (e.g., congratulatory e-mails) and negative (e.g., not allowing future resource requests until adjudication is complete) triggers can increase compliance with publication attribution requests.

MeSH Terms (10)

Bibliometrics Government Agencies Humans Peer Review, Research Pilot Projects Publications Publishing Research Support as Topic Tennessee Translational Medical Research

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