Tracking the contributions of faculty members – including teaching

Pure’s new Faculty and Academic Activity Reporting tool helps universities see the full picture

Faculty can now report on their honors, teaching and other work with the new version of Pure.

The work of faculty members is multi-faceted: they need to balance research, teaching and service. Doing more of one means less time to do things in other areas; the balance of the three changes over time, and they are synergistic.

Between their demanding tasks, faculty members often have little time for the administrative task of detailing their many activities and contributions. And while they are busy juggling their tasks, their work can go unrecognized and even unnoticed – internally but especially externally.

Part of showcasing faculty contributions involves keeping track of research, monitoring its impact through citations, apply for funding and patents, and monitoring the researcher’s relative position within their field. This is increasingly familiar territory and, in many cases, it’s a task that universities have recognized that they can provide assistance through administrative support and automated systems.

With systems like Pure, Elsevier’s solution for researcher showcasing and research networking capabilities, the institution can make it available both internally and externally, supporting collaboration and giving faculty members recognition for all that they do.

That still leaves teaching, insightful information like awards and honors and all of the faculty members’ other work. Now a new release of Pure incorporates faculty and academic activity reporting (FAAR) – a growing trend in research management. There are two big changes in the release: it’s now possible to record data on courses taught and, later this year, prizes.

More and more universities are talking about this new data because they’re being asked to measure what they’re doing in terms of student success, which includes the teaching activities of faculty members.

On most campuses, there is a system that follows which faculty members are teaching which courses. But rarely is this integrated with publication information or matched to human resources systems in a way that allows meaningfully comprehensive showcasing of a faculty member’s activities. If institutions or faculty members do use this information, it’s usually through reports submitted by faculty members annually and during tenure considerations and reviews – something they need to largely do manually every time.

With the release of FAAR we can associate the information an institution has on teaching and other activities with faculty members in the same system. This fits the objective of “type in once and use it many places.” A little time invested at the beginning results in huge time savings in the long term, as the information is then available for creating different reports about individuals, departments, research centers and other organizational groups.

Recognizing teaching

At the same time, this approach makes it easier to discover faculty members making outstanding contributions beyond research, like in teaching and training. Being able to track such activities is important for all faculty members, particularly those in universities and disciplines that focus on these activities, resulting in faculty members dedicating more time to them.

Teaching and training can be regarded as secondary to research and professional service, and as such, faculty members are not always as richly rewarded for their work. Dr. Belinda Probert, Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University in Australia, wrote in an article in The Conversation:

… Many continue to doubt that you can have a good university career based on teaching, or that a teaching position will be given the same respect as a researcher. Teaching is still widely talked about as a kind of punishment for not being a competitive researcher.

This release of Pure provides a new way of managing data on activities like teaching and service, which allows the contributions of faculty members – teaching in particular – to be recognized.

Putting teaching alongside research in the system elevates this activity and gives faculty members the opportunity to truly showcase their contributions and value to the institution’s mission of research, teaching and service. This in turn increases their visibility, internally and externally, and allows them to be discovered. Ultimately, this boosts opportunities for collaboration and interaction, which can benefit the institution in the long term.


As part of the Research Intelligence portfolio of integrated tools and services, Pure enables institutions to display their research strengths through researcher profiles. To learn more, visit the Pure Portal website, and watch this video:

For a demo of Pure’s Faculty and Academic Activity Reporting (FAAR), watch the webcast online.

Read more about FAAR in the brochure.

Managing information in real time

There’s another benefit to managing data on faculty members’ activities with a system like Pure: it saves time and effort. It’s not uncommon that somebody externally – or internally – gets hold of an administrator and asks who on the campus has knowledge or expertise in a certain area. That’s a very difficult question to answer; the administrator might make a few calls, and the people they call might make a few more, and before you know it you’re in the middle of a very labor-intensive and unsatisfying process.

While it’s not an evaluation tool – individual faculty members’ performance objectives are not part of the system and it’s not appropriate to compare one faculty member to another, especially across disciplines – Pure can provide the basis for recognizing the work being done in different areas. That’s where discoverability and visibility comes in: Pure reveals people you might not have otherwise thought of, who tend to go unrecognized.

What’s more, it happens in real time. Changes in the balance between the faculty member’s three areas of focus – research, teaching and service – are not confined to a single point in time but are dynamic and can happen throughout the year. However, faculty members often don’t go back and update their activities in reports outside of the annual reporting cycle, which means the information the institution has can be outdated. Now that these activities are in Pure, they can be updated in real time, making the information more accurate and reliable. What’s more, there is no need for massive data entry because Pure can be integrated with existing campus systems or ingest XML uploads.

Integrating activity reporting into Pure

We released the latest version of Pure in June, which incorporates courses and enables users to produce a faculty activity report. Doug Picadio is one of the project managers working on the release at Elsevier.

“These are the first two pieces of the FAAR puzzle,” he explained. By adding courses taught as a new data source in Pure, faculty members and institutions are able to capture information about faculty members and the courses they have given and developed. “This is a key component in answering the question that FAAR addresses: ‘What have I been doing and what am I doing right now?’” Picadio added. “It provides a more holistic impression of what keep faculty busy.”

His team also developed reporting capabilities. Customers sent them some of their activity reports, and Picardio and his colleagues noted a 90 percent similarity in the look and feel of these documents – which looked much like a résumé. With that in mind, his team created an initial template that captures certain information in a standard format, including publications, courses taught, grants, internal/external activities and projects, and pre-populates the form. “The faculty member can pull the pre-populated report quickly and easily, saving them time,” Picadio explained

The development continues, and phase two is due to launch in early 2017. There are other activities that will be included, such as time spent on editorial boards and scientific committees and moderating conferences. We also plan to incorporate media mentions automatically. At the moment, faculty members need to add this information manually, but with Newsflo, we can pre-populate press clippings. The team also continue to work on how we visualize the activities and make the reports more customizable. As Picadio explains:

We’re taking the template we now have for reporting and allowing more personalization. Institutions have different schools that might want to use their own templates, with the information relevant to them, in a particular order or layout; teaching might be more important in humanities than in physics, for example. We’re also working on allowing multiple reports for a school or faculty member, who might teach a course for two different schools, such as forensics for medicine and humanities. We’re working closely with customers to make sure this results in greater usability across the campus, for administrators and faculty members.

For faculty members, the commodity of success is almost always time, so anything we can do to use technology to reduce the time faculty members spend on these types of things is very helpful. That’s what we have focused on with our efforts here. If the data exists somewhere and it’s already been typed, let’s do our very best not to have to type it again.



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