Making metrics come alive with interactive data visualizations

UIUC’s Library puts Scopus APIs to work

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In today’s hypercompetitive funding environment, researchers need to stand out. Engineering librarian Bill Mischo and team devised a creative solution. They transformed data from Scopus and other databases into dynamic, interactive visualizations highlighting individual researcher activity. The Carle Illinois College of Medicine (CICOM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign then used these enhanced metrics in funding applications.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Elsevier

William Mischo - Research Intelligence | Elsevier

Research impact metrics are frequently being employed by universities to better understand, monitor, and assess research and scholarly communication activities. Libraries that take a leading role in providing and enhancing those metrics are aligning themselves very strategically with the needs of their stakeholders.

Bill Mischo, Head of the Grainger Engineering Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The CICOM wanted to enhance The Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) funding applications with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and, consequently, improve the chances for funding success. The NIH was particularly interested in better information about co-authorship within cohorts. The challenge was to provide evidence of the scholarly productivity and impact of the CCIL’s 73 researchers in a real-time interface.


Interactive data visualization - Research Intelligence | Elsevier
Interactive data visualization of UIUC researchers' output, including articles, citations, NSF and NIH grants since 2010, patents and co-authors. The bubble size varies based on output.

Mischo and a small team from the engineering library, including Mary Schlembach and Elisandro Cabada, set out to develop retrieval and visualization tools to deliver the information required. Using Scopus APIs, they extracted information from Scopus on CCIL publications, citations, authors and co-authors. Then, using a series of scripts, they created related database tables to capture the data. These tables were augmented with CCIL grant data drawn directly from the NIH and National Science Foundation. For patent data they used the United States Patent and Trademark Office API. The team then built two separate interfaces to showcase CCIL publications and CCIL researchers.


The result is a comprehensive picture of research impact for all these authors from siloed databases and resources. With the information delivered by the Scopus APIs into the dashboard, CICOM has achieved its original goal to inform grant applications with more robust and detailed information. Professor Rohit Bhargava, the Founder Professor of Engineering and Director of the CCIL, states that, "The visualizations and research impact analysis supplied by Professor Mischo and the Grainger Engineering Library team have been very helpful to understand productivity, budding collaborations and impact of the research at the CCIL."

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