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K-State Today

November 19, 2014



K-State outranks US average for publications co-authored with institutions from other countries

By Angela Cummins

NSF Workshop Participants

In conjunction with the recent annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities in Orlando, Florida, representatives from five universities had a workshop to analyze the best metrics for assessing the impact and productivity of international research collaborations.

As principal investigator on a two-year project funded by the National Science Foundation, K-State Olathe CEO and vice provost Prema Arasu convened the workshop with representatives from research and international affairs at Kansas State University, University of North Texas Denton, Michigan State University, Colorado State University and Washington State University.

K-State participants included Marcellus Caldas, director of international research and faculty collaborations in the Office of International Programs, and Mary Lou Marino, research development director, who joined the meeting via video conference.

The National Science Foundation project was awarded to Washington State University where Arasu previously served as vice provost of international programs.

The goals of the project are to generate a blueprint summarizing metrics by which a university can make informed decisions about resource allocation, strategic areas for research involving international collaborations and how best to assist researchers in linking with international partners.

"Many of these metrics also provide information about the impact of domestic research initiatives and the economic impact of research that translates into patents, licenses and commercialization opportunities," Arasu said.

At the Florida workshop, project team members from the five universities reviewed their findings and discussed challenges in collecting, comparing and analyzing institutional data. Brian Niehoff, associate provost at Kansas State University, who collected and provided the university's data on faculty ranks, said that "U.S. institutions tend to have slightly different definitions on faculty, which can skew these types of comparative analyses."

The project also involved a contract with Elsevier, a leading publisher of academic literature and provider of information solutions in science, health and technology. Using quantitative data on publications, citations and real time download of articles, the Elsevier research team used the SciVal analytics tool to benchmark the productivity of the five universities.

Interesting trends were noted based on comparisons to the average for all U.S. universities. For example, K-State generated 7,800 publications for the years 2009-2013 with 32.4 percent involving co-authors from institutions in other countries compared to a U.S. average of 28.3 percent.

All five universities showed increased international collaborations with 4-6 percent compound annual growth rates based on publication output for this five-year period. All five universities also showed that publications with international co-authors were associated with higher citation impacts compared to publications that involved single author papers or domestic co-authors.

At the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities meeting, Arasu also moderated a panel on international research metrics that highlighted parallel efforts such as StarMetrics and UMetrics presented by Julia Lane from the American Institute for Research and by U.K. universities using Snowball Metrics presented by Malcolm Edwards, University of Cambridge.