How I Found Over 175,000 Downloads on Bepress for My Faculty
The impact maps provided by Bepress Author Dashboards as part of the institutional repository and SelectedWorks system are not completely capturing data associated with our faculty throughout the Digital Commons network. Our faculty have works stored in external (non-TAMU operated) Bepress networks, and any impact data associated with those works will not appear in the impact maps unless the metadata records for those works contain one of the faculty member’s e-mail addresses. As a result, faculty are reporting and relying on incomplete data when viewing their Dashboards.
While I was helping faculty understand the Bepress Author Dashboards, I noticed that some works in Digital Commons were not appearing in the Author Dashboard’s works list, even though the work had the author’s name in the metadata. Most of the works were accumulating downloads, but I could not find this data represented anywhere in the Dashboard.
Out of curiosity, I ran a name-based search on the Digital Commons repository network advanced search for every faculty member at my school, using “Author” as the field and entering the author’s first name and last name as a string and selecting “All repositories” so that I could search the whole network.
This search process produced some false positives in the search results, so I verified each object was associated with the author I was searching for by cross-referencing CVs before adding the object’s direct URL to a spreadsheet to help me keep track of my discoveries. Then I checked to make sure each object was showing up in the dashboard.
Pro tip – Bepress’s Author Dashboard’s work list can contain multiple works of the same name, and it is time consuming to verify where each work is coming from using the interface. I found cross-referencing the download count on the record with the download count in the works list to be the most efficient approach.
Using this workflow, I was able to quickly identify many works as not being accounted for in the Author Dashboard. I created a Google Sheet to store a direct link to the object’s record page, and I recorded the number of downloads associated with the record. By doing this, I was able to add up how many downloads I was discovering, and in the end it was over 175,000 downloads associated with over 400 objects.
The spreadsheet tabulation gave me a good sense that this project was important enough to devote more time and energy to resolve. Upon consulting with my school’s customer support representative at Bepress, Aaron Doran, we were able to figure out that the root cause of the issue was that the dashboard system connected data from objects using the e-mail addresses entered into the metadata record.
Each SelectedWorks Author Profile has a primary e-mail address associated with it, and authors can also input additional e-mail address in the profile by going into “Account Settings.”
This is the key linking mechanism that the Author Dashboard uses to pull in data from across the Digital Commons network. Bepress was able to help capture a small amount of data for my school by adding known, additional e-mail addresses for faculty to profiles and merging some duplicate profiles that had been created over the years. However, for us, that barely scratched the surface of the missing data: by far, most of the records I discovered simply contained an author name and no e-mail address at all.
My database-oriented mind figured it would be easy enough to have Bepress insert the e-mail addresses of faculty into the right records on the back-end, but this technical issue turned out to be more complex to resolve than that. Since each repository is independently managed, Bepress was not comfortable with unilaterally altering the metadata records of objects and requested that I reach out to every repository manager individually to request that they make the changes themselves or give Bepress permission to do so. At this point, I tried my best to convince Bepress to figure out a better way for me and others to approach this problem, mainly because annual reporting deadlines were quickly approaching. The faculty members at my school who rely on the Author Dashboards for reporting purposes were unaware of this impact being generated, and I wanted to be able to help get everyone all the data associated with them in a world where impact data is becoming more and more important.
While Bepress was very helpful in working with me to resolve this issue, in the end, they would not budge on any centralized solution that would be relatively quick and painless compared to what I had to manage: a mix of Google Sheets, color-coding, and mass e-mailing repository managers with an explanation of the situation and my request for assistance. A cool take-away from this any Bepress repository manager can appreciate is that once the e-mail address is added to the metadata record, the data is instantly piped into the author dashboard; you do not need to wait for a queued update to process!
If anyone else ventures to resolve this issue using this workflow, you can take the initial Google Sheet with the direct object link and add “Faculty Member Name,” “Faculty E-mail,” and “Repository Manager E-mail” columns to it; after adding objects by author name, you can re-order the Sheet by URL to more easily identify and group institutions together. From there, we had to figure out the best repository contact for each institution, and then I created an e-mail template explaining the context of the issue and provided a list of objects with links in the e-mail to make the metadata editing process a bit easier for them.
As can be expected by a process requiring action by dozens of people, several repository managers have not responded to my request. If Bepress were to implement a solution to this issue that could be managed centrally on the back-end, my faculty would be able to benefit from all of the impact data associated with them. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find most of the repositories responded quickly with either a grant of permission or with certification that the metadata had been updated by them; as of now, using this workflow, over 85% of the downloads have been added to Author Dashboards. Several people replied enthusiastically to my e-mail, which inspired me to document the processes and workflows so that others can recreate it and benefit. I imagine my school is not the only one that has faculty with content in Digital Commons networks that is not being properly piped into the Author Dashboards.
Until Bepress comes up with a different approach, I think repository managers uploading content should try their best to include an e-mail address within the metadata. At times, this may not be possible, and it will surely increase the time it takes to process the ingestion of objects, but it seems to me the loss of the impact data associated with these objects is a big enough concern to encourage repository managers to take the time to add e-mail addresses. Otherwise, any impact stemming from that object is most likely not going to be reflected in that author’s impact and growth narrative, particularly for faculty relying on the Author Dashboard to accurately represent that person’s impact data across the Digital Commons network.
If you’d like to indicate whether or not you’d be supportive of Bepress implementing a more efficient solution, or if you have any comments about this issue, please feel free to fill out this quick survey: https://tamu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_b8bmV4P7CR0ZMzz. You can also reach out to me if you have any questions about the workflow, or if you’d like to see some Google Sheet and e-mail templates to help you get started!