University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources

Aligning and Delivering Research Metrics

Sponsor: Winifred A. Schumi, Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research

Overview of the Project

As the University seeks to become one of the top three public research universities in the world within the next ten years, it will become more and more important that we have appropriate and sustainable ways to measure our success, particularly, as it relates to research. So the question is how do we measure excellence in research activity?

As Tim Mulcahy, Vice President for Research, noted in his December 2006 status of Research report to the Board of Regents: “No single research metric is reflective of overall quality or prominence.” His report showed that the university remains one of the top public research universities and has a growing, well-balanced research portfolio that is seeing notable increases in research funding and technology commercialization. However, competition among research universities for declining research dollars is increasing significantly; therefore, the University must continue to work aggressively through its strategic positioning efforts and initiatives to compete successfully for research dollars.

For many years, the Office of the Vice President for Research had collected statistics on the level of research activity at the University, such as numbers of proposals and awards and the level of expenditures for research activity. In addition, reports from entities such as the National Science Foundation and The Center for Measuring University Performance, provide data on comparable institutions across the country.

This project will review the various metrics collected by the institution and external organizations and after careful analysis will determine what additional information related to research activity is needed in order to demonstrate that the institution is making progress toward our goal.

Project Goals

Strategic Questions:

  • How do we identify or define metrics of research activity required to measure our success toward achieving this goal?
  • Determine what research data and information is needed by university leadership, such as college deans, to enable them to have the information they need to strategically address their progress toward achieving this goal.
  • What compact level measures related to research metrics, do the colleges have, what else is needed? Is the institution collecting the right data to be able to provide these metrics?
  • How can research metric information be presented in the most effective way?
  • Define research metrics that are able to assess the progress and outcomes of specific University- wide initiatives such as Interdisciplinary activity.
  • Enable the OVPR to provide better information to deans and senior leadership to support their decisions relative to strengthening the research enterprise.

Recommended tactics:

  • Conduct interviews and focus groups with University leadership, such as deans, to ascertain their needs for research metric information. Make recommendations on best method for delivering this type of information to deans based on these interviews.
  • Determine appropriate ways to communicate research metrics, including reviewing and making recommendations for the OVPR's Web site that present data on level and trends in research at the University of Minnesota.
  • Research how this type of information is presented at comparable institutions for ideas on how to present information in the most informative way possible.
  • Research ways to collect data on research productivity by our faculty.
  • Determine any gaps in our data collection processes in order for us to get a complete picture of the research enterprise at the University
  • Produce a final report summarizing the results from the above tasks.

Project Team

Team Members

Sherri Boone
Facilities Planner
Office of Space Management
Coach: Mary Nichols

Sandra Ecklein
Office of the Senior VP and Provost
Coach: Ann Hill Duin

Elizabeth Grossman
Senior Career Consultant
Health Careers Center
Coach: Kathy Witherow

Peter Haeg
Admissions & Progressions Coordinator
College of Pharmacy

Virajita Singh
Senior Research Fellow
College of Design
Coach: Kay Thomas