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A Strategic Approach to Research Asset Management

February 7, 2019

Research output is an increasingly valuable institutional asset that, when effectively managed for global visibility and access, will improve a university’s research reputation, attract more external funding, and lower costs of meeting and defending compliance and research funding regulations.

For several years, Drexel University has addressed complex questions of how to effectively manage its research assets. The University’s institutional repository was not designed to store and manage research data. Drexel faculty and curators have maintained research data in dispersed systems, through separate repositories, or through informal protocols.

The University has not had a way to link research publication output and the data behind it, or to make them discoverable and available to the broader research community. While Drexel leaders expect researchers to maintain their research output in a variety of repositories, which are not singularly managed by Drexel, they seek to have a central place for collecting evidence of all research output publications and data generated by Drexel researchers and making this output easily discoverable.

A New Approach

Recognizing the need for a strategic approach for research asset management, stakeholders from diverse perspectives covering research, compliance, security, graduate education, IT and libraries and information management routinely came together to engage in conversations to address these challenges. Their discussions focused on three key areas in particular: policies, communication and training, and technological and social support systems required for success.

“Managing research output is not a solo activity,” says Dean of Libraries Danuta A. Nitecki. “It takes multi-faceted collaboration.”

In addressing the policies needed for effective research asset management, Drexel as other universities, must deal with issues such as intellectual property rights related to research data, open access principles, and responsibilities for compliance. In focusing on communication and training efforts, the university acknowledges that success depends on making stakeholders aware of their roles and the importance of fulfilling them.

With respect to the technological systems that Drexel will use to improve its research asset management, University leaders are looking to implement a system that can integrate research output with its underlying data sets, while also enabling both the publications and the data to be discovered. A key consideration is that the system must be easy for faculty to use in promoting their research to a global community.

“If you make the process too complicated, nobody is going to do it,” Nitecki says.

Esploro: Maximizing the Impact of Drexel Research

Nitecki and her colleagues anticipate that Esploro, a new cloud-based research services platform from Ex Libris, will offer a solution. With this expectation, the University joined the Esploro Early Adopter Program in spring 2018.

This new research service platform will help Drexel researchers easily identify relevant grant funding opportunities and streamline the capture, management, and dissemination of their research publications and data output. Esploro will also broaden the impact of Drexel’s research output, offering a single platform to show case all Drexel research assets, including publications, data sets, and creative works, with integrated search and display.

The Drexel Libraries is leading this campus-wide partnership and has appointed two Library Faculty Fellows to help field test a pilot version of the platform starting in March 2019. Fellows will explore and critique Esploro to manage various research outputs, including high-resolution digital images and data sets.

For more information about Esploro or the Libraries’ Faculty Fellows Program, visit or contact or download the Esploro white paper for free online.

This article updates one originally published in the Ex Libris blog on January 14, 2019.