Supporting the Tenure and Promotion Process

Posted in:

Posted on:

June 8, 2023, 9 a.m.
Helping faculty prepare for the tenure and promotion process by telling their research story using data from large literature databases.
outside of Carnegie Library building

Republished from © 2023 Elsevier B.V.

By Emily Hart, Liaison Librarian and Research Impact Lead at Syracuse University Libraries

Since 2020, the Research Impact Team at Syracuse University Libraries has been making great strides toward improving the research reputation of Syracuse University and supporting its research enterprise. One use case is helping faculty prepare for the tenure and promotion process by telling their research story using data from large literature databases like Scopus. There are a couple of ways Libraries liaisons and Research Impact Team members interact with these faculty:

Option 1: Early in the process:

If the faculty member comes to the Libraries a year or two before they go up for tenure and promotion, we can do things like benchmark how their publications are being received by looking at their citations in Scopus. Then, based on what we find, we ask questions like ‘have you put your preprint out and do you have an open access version of your article available?’ As librarians, we might also check whether they have put a copy in the University’s institutional repository and whether they have shared their datasets. The Research Impact Team is looking to identify how faculty can increase their reach so that they gain more visibility. Reviewing and refining their researcher profiles is a part of this preparation too, as is ensuring that all their relevant publications are discoverable in large literature databases.

Option 2: With the deadline looming:

Sometimes we get frantic faculty members who contact us a month or week before, and we have even had faculty contact us the ‘day of.’ Having more lead time is important. We do not just pull Scopus data and hand it to the faculty member; we look at all the relevant databases and journals for their field and give them a variety of statistics and some context. For example, if we give a faculty member a metric like the journal CiteScore, we explain what it is, why it is relevant, and discuss its benefits or limitations. It is always important that we pull data from multiple sources, so we provide a comprehensive and balanced picture of the faculty member’s performance.

One of the metrics that the Research Impact Team shares with candidates is total citations for their publications. We can pull total citations with the option to exclude self-citations, so citations to their own works are removed.

We also look at journal metrics. Sometimes we work with faculty who are new in their field, and their publications may not have had time to accumulate citations, so we highlight the impact of the journals in which they have published.

One of the team’s favorite journal metrics is SNIP (Source Normalized Impact per Paper) in Scopus, which normalizes for citation trends in a particular field. It is a great way to contextualize that journal’s performance in comparison to other journals within their discipline and across other fields. We also like to use Scopus’ CiteScore Rank and CiteScore Trend metrics, which indicate the standing or rank of a title compared to other journals in the same field. They give you both a percentage and a number, which make comparisons easier to interpret. So, for example, in the field of psychology, we can see that a particular journal was ranked 10 out of 100. That means that journal was in the 90th percentile of successful journals in that field.

The Research Impact Team also looks at the number of a researcher’s co-authors who have a non-Syracuse University affiliation or who work in another department/field on campus. This helps the researcher to show that they are collaborative, or that their work might be interdisciplinary. We can pull this statistic from Scopus and from Pure. Scopus’ Topics of Prominence — collections of documents with a common intellectual interest -- can help the researcher show the areas they are influential in, or that they are publishing in a topic area or field that is currently trending.

We often work with alternative metrics, also known as altmetrics, which look beyond traditional publication and citation counts to consider how people are interacting with individual research outputs. The altmetrics tool included in Scopus is PlumX. It can be important for early career researchers because it shows the immediate attention their work is receiving, whereas citations take a while to accumulate. It includes things like number of downloads, how many times the article was mentioned in the news, whether their work has been picked up on Twitter, etc.

For more information or to inquire about support from the Research Impact Team, email

Back to posts

Previous Next