The new publication management system will be introduced over the summer and become the single user interface for academics with their web profiles and such things as BURO. This project is in syncs with the introduction of the new content management system within BU which will transform our web presence. As part of both these projects we plan to introduce a ‘find an expert’ function both for internal and external use. We need to liberate academics to collaborate openly and freely within BU. One of the inhibitors at the moment is actually finding someone to collaborate with! So the find an expert function will have real power to help staff find potential expertise within BU with which to work.
The problem is that any such system is only as good as the keywords used to describe each individual’s research; we all refer to ourselves and our work via a plethora of different terms. A basic ontology of subjects and research fields provides on solution. Staff pick the words within the ontology which best fits their expertise. There are lots of research ontology’s we could use as the starting point. For example the Library of Congress Subject Headings is one of the best with good coverage of all subjects but is very granular for BU. There are 150 different types of sociology for example! Another option is the Science-Metrix which has three levels and 176 sub-fields. This is much more manageable and could be modified to incorporate our own terms such as the ten BU Research Themes.
I would be interested to have your thoughts on this matter. A list of the 176 sub-fields from the Science-Metrix ontology is shown below. How would you describe your own research via such a system? Are there alternative ontology’s we could use? Your comments and ideas would be very welcome, but soon please since we have to take a decision on this shortly!