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Research Networking: Tools for Finding a Research Focus and Mentor

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Christopher Shanahan

on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Research Networking: Tools for Finding a Research Focus and Mentor

The Literature Is the Database
First Author
Last Author
Other Authors
MESH Terms’

In the Research World….
Ideas are most important
Ideas come from Researchers
Tracking researchers is critical but very difficult.
Research Networking: Best Practices
for finding a Research Focus & Mentor

But there is a Problem
~ 27 million researchers world-wide (Scopus) (private, government & research institutions)

Many researchers have
Common names
Change names
Otherwise difficult to uniquely identify
Robust System of attribution of authors & contributors within the scholarly record that:

Documents & attributes contributions of each individual researcher
Paper specific

And is...

To do this we need ...
Assignment of a unique identifier to all researchers, will facilitate discovery & evaluation for researchers, institutions, scholarly societies & publishers

Joins Faculty or Student Body
Joins a Scholarly Society
Applies for a Grant
Submits a Manuscript
Solution: A Unique Researcher Indentifier
Researchers will be able to create and maintain an ORCID ID and profile free of charge, and will control their privacy settings
ORCID Service: Name Disambiguation
武田英明 Christopher William Shanahan
Clinician, Researcher, Skier, Woodworker, Father....
CW Shanahan
Chris Shanahan
Christopher W. Shanahan
C. William Shanahan
Self-Asserted Identity
Socially-Validated Identity
Organisationally-Validated Identity
Disambiguated Identity
ORCID uses both
self-claiming & external claims
What are Research Networking (RN) Tools?
Provide knowledge management systems for the research enterprise by creating expertise profiles for faculty, investigators, scholars, clinicians, & facilities.

Not basic Public Search engines
They access information in databases & other data not on web pages.

Not simple social networking systems
(e.g. as LinkedIn)
Represent authoritative or institutional data rather than individually asserted information -> more reliable & powerful
RN Tools can:
Help initiate & nurture

collaborative extramural research
Facilitate collaboration
to reduce time to search & make interdisciplinary matches

Traditional networks:
Are inadequate for translational research
Disadvantage junior investigators lacking extensive networks
Complex research problems require cross-disciplinary, Team-based collaborative investigation.
Low capability
e.g. Excel, Dept. systems, Google
Relationship based
Tendency to return to previous collaborators
Institutional memory difficult to sustain
Difficult to go beyond own institution or scholarly domain
Information tends to lag practice
Current “Collaborator-Finding” Limitations
Centralized faculty information stewardship
logical group to manage RN tool.

Faculty assessment activities can use RN tools for:
research development
improve grant competitiveness
reduce admin overhead
facilitate translational activities

Can reduce redundant data collection:
Annual reviews
Department updates
Promotion & tenure review
CV updates
Expertise tracking
Mentoring opportunities
Facilitating Collaboration
Discover collaborators
to fill missing translational roles
disease/issue specific research

Gather Intelligence on topical/institutional
funding trends
Support virtual teams
undertaking science
w/ analytics & visualization
clinical trials recruitment

digital vitae/other
to patient & Industry for CER and trials
Vision / Requirements for RN
Electronic/web-based knowledge management system for the research enterprise that:

Faculty expertise/profiles
new collaborations through expertise discovery
discovery & recommendation of researchers, expertise, & resources
into the expertise profiles...
enterprise systems
national research networks
publicly available research data
restricted data about faculty expertise
scholarly/research activity
Provide administrative
support research
CV generation
Offers instantaneous & longitudinal evaluative
Research focus
Scholarly activity
Resource availibity
Standards-based System that unigely identifies digital content objects.

Provides current info re: Object & location
Information changes over time,
BUT....DOI name does not change.

A framework for:
persistent identification
eases management of intellectual content
managing metadata
linking customers w/ content suppliers
facilitating electronic commerce
enabling automated management of media (services & transactions)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI®) System
student body
for grant
Track output of researchers
Locate collaborators
Streamline application process
Support research assessment
Streamline data input
Create author links
ORCID in critical workflows
ORCID will interact with other scholarly author identification systems
SciENCV - Science Experts Network Curriculum Vitae

A shared, voluntary researcher profile system for all individuals receiving or a/w Federal research $ to:

Reduce administrative burden for
Federal grant submission
Enable discovery of:
Researcher expertise
Professional accomplishments
Researchers can describe their contributions in their own language.
Profiles - VIVO - SciVal Experts - CTSI HUB
Lattice Grid - CAP - Digital Vita - Loki
BU Profiles: Who, What, & Why?
Sponsors: David Center, MD & Karen Antman
A powerful, user-friendly, social networking and expertise data-mining tool
Find potential collaborators and mentors & Help them find you.
Add new expertise to your team & help others add your expertise to their team
Reveal new directions for your research
BU Online RN Tools: The Coming Convergence
BU Profiles: A rapidly evolving open source platform
New tools & functionality continually being added by adopting institutions across the U.S.
Possible New functions:
Mentoring & Educational Sections, Social Networking Widgets, Lab Profiles, etc.
Faculty profiles to be standard for Federal Grant submissions. Link to the profile - No separate NIH Bio-sketch
Contributor to Internal evaluation process
BU Profiles
Christopher Shanahan MD MPH
Faculty Lead, Research Networking BU CTSI

Unique Objects
A Growing National Network
An Absolute Requirement
....but how do we know they are who they say they are?

Problem: Unique Identifiers need to be authenticated

Solution: Create authoritative systems to facilitate and maintain authentication

Publishers, Institutions, Colleagues & Community, Self
Even the Feds are getting into the game

Federal-Wide Researcher Profile Project
The nature and methodology of research is changing
Problems are getting bigger and more complex.
Funding agencies are expecting a/o requiring new models of collaborative science.
These new problems require a change in the approach by dividing the work, creating expanded collaborative teams of researchers and adding multidisciplinary expertise.
What are the requirement(s) of Team Science?

Systems that catalog everything, everyone, everything they are expert at, everything they do, & everyone & thing who they do it with and THEN make it all administratively feasible!

After cataloging everything, track it, analyze it, report it, & make strategic & tactical decisions based on this information…then repeat!


Research Networking Tools to store, manage, manipulate, and report the metadata of scientific output
What special challenges and unique requirements does RN present & how are these addressed?

Requirement: Create unambiguous attribution

Problem: Key data lack universal unambiguous attribution

Solution: Create a/o Coordinate Existing Unique Identifiers for People & Objects
Open Researcher & Contributor ID
What Next?
Link Researcher ID authentication
to attribution
Team Science
1. Assemble a research Team
a. Topic Area: Study endothelial oxidative stress in
cardiovascular disease
b. Required expertise: Proteomics
2. Look for Collaborator
a. Topic Area: Addiction, Alcohol , Screening
b. Required expertise: Clinical trials
3. Look for a mentor
a. Topic Area: Health Services Research, Health Care Disparities
b. Rank: Associate or Higher
c. Evidence of Mentoring
4. Look for PI with Funding
a. Topic Area: Joint Replacement Surgery
b. Evidence of Research Funding
5. Search for a new area of Research
a. Topic Area: TBD
b. Find Potential Collaborators and decide and how to contact them
Research Networking Use-Case Scenarios

Be sure you are willing to make the commitment.
A research project is not signing up for a class - more like get a job - You find the research position & then sell yourself for it.
A research mentor is committing to expending significant time and resources in your training & supervision - It is your responsibility to be reliable & work hard.
Decisions about Research Interests & Mentors are directly linked

A Starting Point
You may:
Already have a general area of interest in a Specific Discipline or Research method.
Know a Researcher who (you admire/whose work interests you/who has a reputation as a good person to work with/for /learn from/be mentored by.)
Have no idea where to start
Have too many ideas/interests & can't focus

Get More Information
Devise a way to evaluate and prioritize all your options.
But - Will you do this with the best information possible?
Where do you get this information?
Observation of professors during classes, seminars, etc.
Reports / Hearsay from friends and classmates and others
Reports published in the Lay press or the Scholarly literature
Information Tools (e.g. BU Profiles)
Find a research project
Set your expectations - Be reasonable - Be flexible
Clarify your time frame
Get Ideas from your courses or other educational experiences
Make a list of subjects you find most interesting. Be inclusive
Use all avenues to seek additional information.
Use Tools like BU Profiles and department Web sites.
Talk with others for suggestions:
Academic advisor, Instructors, Friends & Classmates

Find possible mentors
Use electronic Tools e.g. BU Profiles
Ask for suggestions for faculty members with a reputation for being good research mentors.
Research your faculty mentor and their area of study and make sure they are conducting research in your area of interest
Look for key parts of their profile & learn to interpret this information
Contact Potential Mentors
Goal: Determine availability for mentoring undergraduate researchers.
Faculty have limited in time & resources - determine availability as soon as possible.
Send an email to all potential faculty members
Introduce yourself / Quickly & clearly indicate your purpose for contacting them (first sentence).
Schedule an meeting to discuss possible collaboration.
No reply: Don’t be discouraged.
These are busy people & you’ve gained important info.
You may not want to work there.

Send a follow-up email in a week or so.
If really desperate to meet a particular person - find an administrative assistant who can facilitate the initial connection. Be very nice!!
Move on to someone else in your list.
OK to approach more than one potential mentor simultaneously. Shopping around is allowed & expected.
If you get more than one offer, decide which you will explore, decline the others with a personal thanks follow-up email (Important!!).
"Cover eMail letter" should include:
Name & Major/Department affiliation
Purpose for contacting them
Major research interests & enthusiasm for gaining research experience
How your research interests relate to the lab's research (ie. Why the interest in their specific laboratory?)
Contact information (email, phone, etc.)
Attach your CV which should include:
Relevant coursework - a short description of techniques/concepts mastered if relevant.
Leadership (on/off campus) & work experience that demonstrates organizational skills, independent thinking, etc.
Honors, awards or distinctions (include name of award, grantor/department, and monetary value if appropriate)
CV should be 1-2 pages in length.
The interview (Things to keep in mind)
The kindness aside, why should this busy stranger agree to mentor your research?
Answer: You would be an asset to their lab.
You are not expected to be a fully trained expert; however, you should have a general idea (the more detailed, the better) of what this researcher's work entails.
MUST appear informed, prepared, and eager to learn and work.
The interview - The Basics
Be on time
Take notes.
A list of questions
Your CV (Don’t assume that even read it)
Getting to Know you
Be engaging
Explain how this experience is important to your future career plans
If possible, indicate a project in which you would like to be involved
- already in progress or an idea of your own
Project - The Big Picture
What kinds of projects are available
What is the project and research environment.
How will the research experience be structured?
Will you be an intellectual participant in the research effort?
What will your role in the research?
What is the likelihood that the project be published?
Process & Supervision
Has this faculty member has mentored other undergraduates.
Who will supervise and/or direct your research efforts?
Will you meet with your faculty adviser, if so how often (or will you mostly interact with another lab member
How will your performance be evaluated?
How many hours/week can you /
will you be asked to devote to the project?
What skills or training will your project require. When can this training begin I needed? (Lab safety, use of radioisotopes, animal handling, etc.)
Do you medical tests/vaccinations.
What is the laboratory protocol for notebook keeping?
Is funding available?
If it is not a good fit …
When you contact potential mentors, you may find that one or more of them is unable to accept you into his/her research group.
This may be due to a variety of circumstances so do not take it personally.
In such a case, graciously thank him/her for his/her time
Ask who else you should talk to. Ask for an introduction.
The Interview
The Hunt
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