Research database centralizes information about Penn State faculty scholarship

The goal of the Researcher Metadata Database is to provide centralized, consistent access to up-to-date metadata for Penn State faculty research. Credit: Penn State University Libraries / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new database established by a collaborative team including Penn State University Libraries aims to provide centralized, consistent access to scholarly research metadata for Penn State faculty research, while eliminating much of the administrative work involved with research-activity reporting software used by higher education faculty. 

The Researcher Metadata Database (RMD) aggregates content from multiple scholarly research databases including Digital Measures, Pure, the Penn State Electronic Theses and Dissertations database, National Science Foundation (NSF), Open Access Button and Clarivate (formerly Web of Science). RMD’s function not only helps to create a single access programming interface (API) for faculty profiles and department web pages, but also facilitates implementation of Penn State’s Open Access Policy and the ability to generate reports on common data requests.

A unique feature of the RMD Is the ability to push information to the Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) system, whose identifiers are increasingly used by funding organizations such as NSF and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a source of information on research activity, including biographical sketches of researchers.

“This is a great tool for gathering consistent, updated data on faculty research activity in order to promote the scholarship and research that is happening throughout the University,” said Dan Coughlin, head of Strategic Technologies for Penn State University Libraries, which spearheaded the initiative. “It’s a novel approach that reduces the amount of digital paperwork faculty must do to fulfill tasks related to activity reporting and applying for research funds. It’s an automated convenience for them.”

Believed to be among the first of its kind in higher education, the Researcher Metadata Database was created as a collaboration among the Strategic Technologies team, Penn State’s Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, and West Arête, a State College, Pennsylvania, custom software company that also assisted in the creation of the Penn State Electronic Theses and Dissertations database.

“We have been glad to support Pure and Scopus products, which have given us extremely pertinent data on our researchers’ productivity, their affiliated departments and programs and the publications they’re continually developing,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. “Having this information has already had significant benefits to our internal reporting and our external research marketing efforts. We’re grateful for the partnership with the College of Medicine and the University Libraries on getting information about faculty research output into RMD. Extracting those data via the Pure API and making the information available as part of the larger RMD project is a great next step for us and for the institution.”

For more information on the Researcher Metadata Database, visit or contact University Libraries at

Last Updated February 02, 2021