New database will make faculty experts easier to find

Media Credit: Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dianne Martin announced a new expert database and search tool during Friday's Faculty Senate meeting, which officials hope will help faculty connect with each other and make it easier for reporters to find expert sources.

GW faculty experts will soon be accessible with the click of a button.

Expert Finder, a new program that will bring multiple schools’ faculty databases into one simple searchable website, was introduced to the Faculty Senate on Friday. Before, faculty said it was difficult for them to find other researchers in the University, and officials say they hope it will increase GW’s media presence and make it easier for faculty to connect.

The program will roll out over the next few months, first for use inside the University, and then as a database for people outside GW to find experts on specific topics, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Dianne Martin said during Friday’s Faculty Senate meeting.

“It’s the way to highlight expertise to the outside world, locate each other internally and improve the research infrastructure in a strategic plan,” she said.

The University-wide strategic plan calls for increasing shared research between departments throughout GW and incorporating faculty research with other universities, which Martin said will be made easier with the “public-facing repository.”

The expert finder will first be introduced to the deans of GW’s schools, followed by the rest of the faculty, and will only be used within GW until mid-January. Faculty will then be able to modify their profiles to highlight the work and areas of expertise they want to be made public.

After mid-January, the website will go public, meaning that non-GW faculty and media will be able to search for GW faculty with expertise in certain fields, Martin said.

The expert finder was proposed and created by the faculty information system advisory committee, which includes faculty members and administrators, and they consulted with members of GW’s communications department on how to best create the system.

“This is great example of the administration working with a faculty committee to really make something that started out as a rough tool. I think it’s going to be a really useful thing for faculty as a whole and for people to find us,” Provost Steven Lerman said at Friday’s meeting.

The updated database, which Martin displayed during the meeting, will be easier to use than past websites on individual schools’ sites. Faculty last year complained that a research aggregation site was difficult to use and made it harder for them to find other faculty working on similar topics.

Martin said faculty members and the University media relations office often receive requests from media to speak to GW experts, and the updated database will make that processes smoother.

“We do get a lot of requests,” Martin said. “We hope this will generate even more requests of people wanting to find GW experts.”

Martin added that faculty will be able to incorporate their research with faculty members’ in other schools if they can easily find what colleagues are studying.

“I think faculty are often looking for someone who knows something about something, and this is a good way for them to find that person,” she said.

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