The University switched Tuesday to a new database for compiling and displaying faculty research profiles and curriculum vitae called VIVO. The new system allows faculty members to publicly upload and update their C.V.s and will replace the existing Directory of Research and Researchers at Brown.
The transition was initially marred with technical difficulties and slow servers, but the Dean of the Faculty's office is working to identify the source of the problems and remedy them in preparation for a "more relaxing introduction to VIVO" over the next year, said Kevin McLaughlin P'12, dean of the faculty, at Tuesday's faculty meeting.
VIVO will be "our public facing website for faculty research," McLaughlin said. The current database is "not kept up to date" and is "a clunky website, not very searchable, not very easy to update and pretty primitive," he said.
VIVO will require faculty members to update their information on the database every year and to provide a statement about their annual research progress to the faculty chair. The administration uses information from faculty member's C.V.s to determine their salaries.
Under the new system, faculty members will no longer be required to provide information such as what classes they taught, how many students were in each class or independent study projects they supervised. The University will "capture that information directly from the registrar" and "simplify the process for faculty to submit their updated C.V.s," McLaughlin said.
Faculty members are being asked to upload information they want on the website, and to update it annually. Researchers from other universities will also be able to track faculty members who are performing research on a specific topic.
The VIVO application can produce uniquely formatted C.V.s, such as a National Institutes of Health formatted C.V., which many professors at Brown need to apply for grants.
Some faculty members had mixed views about the switch. "In principle, this is not a bad idea, but it would be good to understand who will be taking care of updating it efficiently," said Roberto Serrano, professor of economics and chair of the department.
"Often these new systems have glitches and frictions that are annoying to navigate through," Serrano added. "And I do feel that the departments have not been consulted sufficiently before implementing the change."
Serrano also said the current research directory has not proven useful. "I have almost never used it and when I have, prompted by some Google search, I have found the information there either outdated or incorrect," he said.
Some faculty members, including Serrano, do maintain updated information on their personal websites, but feel that if the University wants to implement a centralized system, it should properly update and maintain the site.
A number of faculty members were apprehensive about the fact that the C.V.s on VIVO will be used to calculate faculty salaries. But James Valles, chair of the physics department, said that "C.V. data has always been used for evaluating a professor's productivity and impact." He added that details about a professor's research, books, grants and other information listed on the C.V. can be useful in determining salaries.
McLaughlin expressed concern about a "rumor floating around that VIVO is going to classify publications according to the rank of the journal," which is not true, he said. VIVO is just a database and will not do any analysis, he said.
The other advantage of the new system is that the database is searchable, McLaughlin said. Researchers can access the database network and find out who is currently working on similar projects at other universities like Cornell, which uses a similar system.
The current Directory of Research and Researchers will stay accessible until February of next year, in order to allow faculty members to make the switch to VIVO.
-With additional reporting by Kate DeSimone