Research Information Management in the U.S.: OCLC Two-Part Report

Released November 2021

Research Information Management in the United States, Parts 1 and 2

The institutions chosen for study include Penn State University, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, UCLA and the University of Miami. The study provides a detailed overview of research information management (RIM) systems and practices at five US institutions. As a definition, the OCLC report lays down the following functions:

Research information management (RIM) systems support the transparent aggregation, curation, and utilization of data about institutional research activities.

From the Introduction of Part I: 

The Research Information Management in the United States two-part report series provides a first-of-its-kind documentation of RIM practices at US research universities, building on previous research conducted by OCLC Research that offers a thorough examination of RIM practices, goals, stakeholders, and system components. Part 1 provides summary findings synthesized from in-depth case studies of US RIM practices, which are documented in detail in the Part 2 companion report. It furthermore synthesizes these findings into a summary of RIM use cases, a RIM system framework, and concise recommendations for RIM stakeholders, providing much-needed context for institutional leaders to examine their own local practices.

The intended audience for the report is three-fold:

  • Senior leaders at research universities, including provosts and vice presidents of research. This report provides decision makers with a categorization of uses and in-depth examples as an aid to understanding local practices and opportunities.
  • Research library leaders as essential participants in successful RIM implementation 
  • RIM practitioners within the institution

The report does not describe all RIM practices in the United States nor was the intent to provide an example of typical RIM practices. While similarities exist, RIM practices are far from standardized. Each institution has unique elements and practices.

Key observations

  • Most institutions have multiple RIM systems.
  • RIM systems that support faculty activity reporting are currently decentralized at two of the five case study institutions (Miami and Texas A&M).
  • RIM systems may exist at the college, campus, and system level in a single institution (UCLA). 
  • Tenure-line faculty were included in all of the systems documented in this study.

Some systems have expanded to also include other researchers, such as non-faculty researchers (Penn State Research Portal) and graduate students and postdocs (Virginia Tech).

It seems likely that the US RIM systems will follow the lead of institutions like Penn State and Virginia Tech and include more non-faculty researchers. This inclusion can support a more comprehensive view of institutional research activity and further showcase the activities of research units and graduate programs.

Key Recommendations for Institutional Decision-Makers

  • Invest in institutional data curation
  • Support adoption of persistent identifiers
  • Don't expect a turn-key system
  • Support cross-functional teams
  • Invest in dedicated personnel
  • Include research information in enterprise data governance efforts

The second component of this report series, Research Information Management in the United States: Part 2—Case Studies provides the supporting evidence for the report's findings through in-depth narratives about RIM practices at the selected research institutions.