Professors say research database is still difficult to use

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Faculty say they are still confused by the online system to file annual reports piloted by Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dianne Martin this year. Professors are required to file a report about their accomplishments in research, publishing and teaching each year.

Faculty members have voiced concerns that a website they use to submit information about their research and publications each year remains too difficult to use, even after an overhaul of the system this year.

Many professors said they would hesitate to use the Lyterati website for more than filing their annual reports after they faced technical issues when uploading information.

William Briscoe, director of the undergraduate physics program, said he faced multiple challenges entering information about his research, and he only plans to use the system when he needs to once a year.

“It may be a nice way to get everything into the archives of the University, but for example if you try to print something, it comes out in a very bad format,” he said.

The website is used to collect annual reports from professors on their research, teaching and publications. Top faculty members attacked the system last spring, according to emails obtained by The Hatchet.

Michael Castleberry, former chair of the Faculty Senate executive committee, blasted the system, saying it was rushed over a five-month period. He said faculty struggle to understand how it works and never received enough guidance about how to use the system.

“You’ll get the information you wanted to get, but I’m damned if I can see how a dean will get a complete view of what a faculty member did. Lyterati makes it difficult to do anything different,” Castleberry said.

The move to the system comes as the University has tried to entice professors to pursue interdisciplinary research. The website gives professors the option to search for faculty with certain research topics in different departments across campus.

Once the program officially rolls out, the University will monitor the number of professors who use Lyterati’s faculty search function, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dianne Martin said.

Professors in the School of Medicine and Health Sciences began using the system this spring, which gave them access to more than 1,700 faculty resumes.

When Lyterati was piloted last year, its search feature was shut down to protect the confidentiality of publications and research grants that faculty members had uploaded, Martin said. Professors will be able to opt out of appearing in search results when the program launches this spring.

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