ResViz: Politics and Design Issues in Visualising Academic Metrics

Chris Elsden, Seb Mellor, Rob Comber

RESViz is a web based tool for exploring research based collaborations between individuals, departments, and faculties through currently active funded university projects.  The visualisation also depicts relative splits and total project values provide additional context to the relationships and an overview of the research funding landscape of the university. The tool was designed and developed by colleagues at Culture Lab, Seb Mellor and Rob Comber, and now I’m leading an interview study of a range of end-users, from senior management to early-career academics, to understand how this tool will be used, adopted and perhaps contested.

There are a number of interesting issues we hope to pursue with this work. What are the consequences of making this sort of professional data highly accessible and transparent? How is this tool employed differently by managers and academics? How is interdsciplinarity between departments currently achieved, and to what extent can this be managed or aided with ResViz? Further it’s an opportunity to contribute empirically to debates, especially in a UK context, about the use of metrics in the modern ‘neoliberal’ university. Finally it’s another site to examine interactions with personal data, especially when this visualisation represents part of an academic identity.