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Finding Expertise and Being Found


By Kristi Holmes, PhD, Director, Galter Health Sciences Library

One of the most important aspects of modern biomedical research is its collaborative nature which regularly requires finding and connecting with different expertise and perspectives. Identifying and connecting with expertise outside of one’s own discipline can be challenging, but it is an essential skill. Here are a few strategies for finding expertise and being found that can help support dissemination, networking, and successful collaboration.

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Publication Databases

Finding Expertise: Publication databases such as PubMed and Scopus allow users to search for concepts that can be limited to target specific timeframes or geographic regions. Leveraging publication data can be helpful if your collaboration requires regular access to a specialized instrument, you are looking for a speaker from a particular geographic region, or if you are student looking for a mentor in a specific topic area. As terminologies can differ across disciplines, do your homework or consult with your Liaison Librarian to understand if there are keywords that can help your search be more effective.

Being Found: There are steps you can take to enhance discoverability through your published works. Optimize article titles to be clear, concise, and declarative. Incorporate both natural language keywords as well as Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms. Use the MeSH on Demand tool from the National Library of Medicine to help identify MeSH terms in your abstract or manuscript, as well as articles similar to your submitted text. If possible, repeat significant keywords or phrases (and their synonyms), as the document is considered more relevant if a given term is used more frequently.  Likewise, include any unique identifiers in the abstract to link to datasets or files (genes, proteins, structures, etc.) deposited in public databases.

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Scholarly Profiles

Finding Expertise: Feinberg Faculty Profiles helps faculty document work and career accomplishments and is an excellent resource for finding expertise right here on campus. Searchers can enter keywords, terms related to methods or instrumentation (e.g., "artificial intelligence”), or even professional activities such as service or memberships (e.g. “National Academies”).

Being Found: The Office of Faculty Affairs offers several reasons why an accurate and robust faculty profile is important, including improved visibility to prospective collaborators, mentees, and media; informing donors and funding organizations about your work; and focusing your “findability” on specific topics that you wish to highlight. Regardless of the platform, be sure to regularly curate your online scholarly identity in these various profiles to ensure that the content represents you, your work, and your active scholarly efforts. 

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Your Online Presence

Finding Expertise: Many people are comfortable with doing a quick search on Google and you can leverage the power of the platform by optimizing your search. Twitter is increasingly used by academics to communicate about personal and professional interests and can be a good way to find expertise. Twitter can be searched by keywords or a relevant hashtag (e.g., #massspec or #meded). Filter your search by popular tweets, people tweeting, or most recent results to refine your results.

Being Found: Keep your profiles up-to-date and acknowledge your funding on all work to enhance your discoverability and meet requirements. Deposit scholarly works into DigitalHub to ensure that they are findable, and register for an Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID), a persistent digital identifier that can connect with your professional information including your Northwestern NetID (ORCID Enrollment). Use this iD to share your information with other systems, ensuring you get recognition for all your contributions, saving you time and hassle, and reducing the risk of errors.

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How Can We Support You?

Finding expertise and being found depends on the discoverability of disseminated work. Effective dissemination takes planning and our Department of Research Assessment and Communications provides a wide range of services and resources to support you. For questions or support on these or other topics, please contact your Liaison Librarian.

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Updated: June 23, 2022