Updates from the Research Council chair
Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Hello from the Research Council! I am writing this quarterly update to share with you about the Scholarly Impact department within the University of Iowa Libraries. If this was a survey, I would have liked to know how many of our active research community members on-campus are aware of this department? My guess would be not many, maybe 10-15% of faculty and staff…and that’s likely not due to the lack of marketing by the Libraries about this resource but more because our inboxes are already overwhelmingly crowded.

When I learned about the Scholarly Impact department within the UI Libraries after meeting with the department director, Sara Scheib, I was amazed at the resources available to UI faculty members to increase scholarly impact. I am one of those guilty ones among the research community who cares about my impact numbers, such as the infamous h-index, and recognize that demonstration of impact is important for my career growth in many ways. But scholarly impact can be defined in a variety of ways based on our expertise and field of research.

If you ask Sara, “What is scholarly impact?”, she would answer that it involves building reputation (via researcher profile, bibliometrics, and strategic publishing), and maximizing outreach (via writing for discovery, open access publishing, sharing instruments and open educational resources (OER), and publishing research data), which covers lots of good ground. Here are some pointers to address these two aspects of scholarly impact:

  • Set up research profiles via Iowa Research Online, ORCID, and Google Scholar. ORCID iDs now need to be included in various federal grant biosketches because they help differentiate researchers with common names.
  • Deciding where to publish research work can be tricky, with so many journals and publishers out there. Some suggestions for strategic publishing are:
    • Search major indexing databases such as Web of Science and Scopus.
    • Consult Journal Citation Reports.
    • Consider who is on the editorial board and what are the peer review practices of the journal you are planning to publish in.
    • Determine what author rights your published work will retain after publishing.
    • Ask your colleagues or your librarian for recommendations!
  • Write with the discovery of your work in mind. Keep the searcher of your work in mind and consider multiple audiences. Identify keywords that another researcher may use to find your work, and ensure those keywords are in your title and/or abstract.  
  • Consider other options before paying out of pocket for article processing charges (APCs) for open access (OA) publishing. Research indicates OA publishing increases reach of one’s published work; however, OA publishing charges can be hefty, amounting to thousands of dollars. The UI Libraries have addressed this conundrum by entering into several read-and-publish agreements to make publishing for UI researchers in certain OA journals free of charge. To find the list of publishers with which the university has these agreements, please refer to the  Open Scholarship Toolkit I have recently made use of this resource for publishing in an OA journal that had an associated cost of $4,000!
  • Share easy-to-implement instruments and resources with the research community. Here instruments refer to complete metadata and documentation of your published work to allow for easy reuse and sharing these instruments via established repositories to enhance discoverability, such as IRIS, OER Commons, and Iowa Research Online, or ask your librarian for more ideas!

Sara and team would like to hear from you all and support your scholarly impact boost. Feel free to reach out to the department at lib-impact@uiowa.edu. We hope you all had a restful and productive summer and great start to the fall semester! Stay tuned for future quarterly updates from the Research Council chair.