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The Future of Universities: Evidence-Based Assessment Solutions

Dave Kochalko, Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development at Thomson Reuters Healthcare and Science

Published in June 2013

What’s next for universities? With the sector diversifying into online learning, not to mention the many varied opportunities offered by further and higher education colleges, it’s become harder to say what a university will look like in the future. In March 2013, leading academics and experts, organisations, and international student leaders at Warwick Universities Summit 2013 tackled the issue of universities in 2025. Speakers from across the sector discussed topics such as funding and widening access, and what the value of the global public university should be in a rapidly developing world. Here, Dave Kochalko, Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development at Thomson Reuters Healthcare and Science offers his views.

Play dough dinosaur

In the spring of 2012, as part of its annual 'Best Colleges' feature, US News ranked Philadelphia-based Drexel University at number three in its listing of “Up and Coming Schools,” based on its expert panel’s peer assessment of colleges that are “making the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty, and student life.”

The challenge for Drexel, as for any educational or research institution, is to continue on an upward trajectory of growth and expansion, while also fostering an environment in which communication, connectivity, and convenience are enhanced for staff, and in which disparate professional activities and performance metrics across the institution can be easily unified and tracked.

To that end, Drexel has turned to Thomson Reuters solutions, including Research in View, an institution-wide system that aggregates, standardizes, and links data from multiple sources and formats to provide a database and analytic interview for viewing, searching and reporting on faculty service, teaching, research expertise and accomplishments.

Achievement

A key concern for Drexel officials was facilitating collaboration among faculty—providing a means for researchers to identify colleagues involved in similar endeavors (inside as well as outside the University), and furnishing a central resource for tracking faculty activity and achievement. In addition to identifying potential collaborators, such a repository would provide a simpler means for faculty to record, maintain and share pertinent information for discussions involving annual performance evaluation, promotion and tenure.

Profiling in Research in View answers this need, supplying a CV-structured, user interface that provides search features and tools, allowing faculty to maintain and control their own research profiles, including privacy settings. Users have the option to receive automated alerts for new articles, grants, and patents matched to their profiles. Administrators, meanwhile, can identify groupings of faculty involved in related research, and can obtain an overview of activity at the level of individuals, groups, departments, schools, and the entire institution.

Aspirational

Another goal for Drexel officials was tracking progress and evaluating Drexel’s performance against current as well as aspirational peer institutions. Along these lines, Research in View integrates with external data sources, including all the knowledge resources of Thomson Reuters Web of Science and InCites, the web-based research evaluation tool. Thus, Drexel’s research output can be quantified and assessed in terms of its citation impact and other metrics, and these results compared against other institutions and world baselines.

As Drexel University Provost Mark Greenberg noted, “We have been looking for an easy solution to enable our faculty to identify local and global research collaborators and for our administrators to honour faculty professional activities and accomplishments as part of Drexel University’s commitment to fostering scholarship and creative work.”

With Research in View and InCites, Drexel is realising this goal: widening collaborative networks inside and outside the University, maximizing opportunities for partnership and growth, and creating a panoramic vantage point from which to assess the University’s intellectual resources and continue to steer Drexel toward the front ranks of educational institutions. These are tangible examples of technology driving growth in the scientific and scholarly ecosystem.


For more from the Knowledge Centre's Global Universities Summit blog, which focussed on the issues in higher education ahead of the 2013 Global University Summit, please click here.

The Global University Summit 2013 was hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London.

Image: Squishy Circuits. Photo taken at The Academy of Natural Sciences, Drexel University. March 2013. Source: Flickr.


David KochalkoDavid Kochalko is Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development at Thomson Reuters Healthcare and Science.