We've made getting started with Activity Insight easy and fast. You begin with a full-featured faculty activity reporting system that collects key information based on our experience working with hundreds of other campuses, plus a useful set of base reports. You can create user accounts for your faculty, they can begin entering information about their activities, and you are off and running collecting and reporting on your faculty's activities from day one.
The best part is that while this is a very strong starting point, it is just that. From here, the power and flexibility of Activity Insight kick in. Working hand-in-hand with your Digital Measures Solution Specialist, we tailor Activity Insight to reflect your unique data collection and reporting needs — see Thoroughly Tailored for more details.
Built-in tools for collecting faculty information
- A base set of data fields reflect best practices we have learned in more than 10 years working with clients for faculty activity reporting.
- Import information from many sources including reference managers and databases, saving faculty lots of time in getting their information into Activity Insight.
Information about your faculty's publications already exists in many places. Activity Insight enables your faculty to easily load information directly from these others sources, saving them a great deal of time and effort.
- File attachment capabilities allow faculty to attach full-texts of their publications, PowerPoint files of presentations, grant funding/award letters, audio and video recordings of performances, and more.
- Enriched journal information adds more value to the information your faculty enter into Activity Insight about their journal articles.
Let's say that you want to get a list of all articles published by your faculty in journals that your colleges and schools deem to be "top tier." Activity Insight enables you to keep track of metadata about publication sources—which in this case, would be the quality of the publication. If a faculty member indicates that she published an article in the journal Nature, and Nature is identified as a "top tier" journal, this article would be included. Any metadata that you would like to track about publication sources can easily be added, or loaded from spreadsheets or other databases, enriching the information you have in Activity Insight. Other examples of metadata include acceptance rates and methods of peer review.
- Joint appointments are handled effortlessly, ensuring faculty with multiple appointments don't need to enter their information multiple times. Meanwhile, administrators for each appointment can see the information for their faculty.
- Tie activities to your faculty who collaborate to eliminate double-counting and reduce data entry.
Your faculty collaborate on publications, grants, presentations, intellectual property, creative activities, courses they teach, and more. When they do, the last thing you want is for each of them to enter these activities independent of one another. This would lead to "double-counting" of activities that overstate your faculty's activities and redundant data entry.
When two or more of your faculty members collaborate on a particular activity, you need to know that they are collaborators. In Activity Insight, when a faculty member adds an activity, they simply pick their collaborators from a list so that they all share the same record. Not only does this eliminate redundant data entry, it also enables reports to indicate that the item was collaborative—there is no "double-counting" of the same activity.
If multiple faculty members collaborate on an activity, the activity can be counted in various ways using Activity Insight reporting, since each faculty member should get credit for participation on their individual reports. For example, a report that a faculty member submits detailing their activities in the past year should certainly count it, and similar reports that their collaborators turn in should also count it. But when a department chair, dean, or someone in the provost's office runs a report and wants a count of the number of activities—the activity is counted just once. By entering each activity just once and linking it to the collaborators, Activity Insight enables you to recognize your faculty's activities exactly as you need.
Built-in tools for reporting on faculty information
- Base Reports get you started quickly and continually save time.
Accreditation is, to say the least, in a state of flux. As regional and professional accreditors evolve their standards and requirements, your reporting abilities also need to adapt. Fortunately, Activity Insight was built to support this.
We provide all clients with base reports. These are reports that our clients must submit to other organizations, where their format is mandated. Examples of these include the biosketches for National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). We also support base reports for various regional and professional accreditors such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). As these organizations update their reporting requirements, we update the relevant reports, saving you significant time and effort.
- Custom Reports make it simple for you to obtain the exact reports that your campus needs.
Everyone is familiar with the basic capabilities of Microsoft Word and Excel, and are accustomed to significant flexibility in terms of text, tables and formatting when using those programs. Faculty and staff therefore expect that the reports from their faculty activity reporting system will be just as adept. After all, if they run a report but it doesn't include the precise information that they need, they will need to spend countless hours editing the report by hand—which is exactly what you are looking to avoid by purchasing such a system.
Our experts will design any custom report tailored to your exact requirements. You just tell us in plain English what you want and we do it. There's no need to learn the technical aspects of Activity Insight or involve your campus IT staff. We even offer guaranteed turnaround times so you quickly get the information you need.
- Take advantage of powerful ad hoc reporting to pull out the exact information you need.
If you need information in a pinch, turn to our ad hoc reporting utility. It's amazingly simple for even the most non-technical user, but it provides immediate access to all of the information to which a user has security permission.
- Connect Activity Insight to the profiles of your faculty on your campus website so they are always current.
Your campus has profiles of your faculty on its website. For many campuses, those profiles are several years out of date because it's yet another place that faculty needs to update information on their activities. With Activity Insight, you can link your campus websites to the system to keep faculty profiles current. And faculty can indicate the items that they want to appear on their profile, putting them in control of what shows up.
- Correct punctuation and formatting is critical in ensuring your campus's successful adoption of a faculty activity reporting solution.
Proper punctuation is a big deal with a faculty activity reporting system. Let's say that one of your faculty members has written a journal article with four co-authors, and that:
- Two of their co-authors have no middle name
- The faculty member enters a trailing period after the article title
- The article hasn't yet been published, so the faculty member hasn't yet entered the name of the journal, the volume, the page numbers, or the date published
You don't want this:
- Author, A. A., Author, B. B., Author, C. ., Author, D. ., & Author, E. E. (). This article's title.., , -.
You want this:
- Author, A. A., Author, B. B., Author, C., Author, D., & Author, E. E. (Work in process). This article's title.
Imagine a faculty member running a report for their annual performance evaluation or promotion and tenure that contains incorrect punctuation. How does this make them look, and how do you think they will feel about it? How about a dean running a report for an accreditor or other external constituent, with sloppy punctuation? Or a report on the activities of your faculty for your state legislature? This simple example is in APA style, but Activity Insight handles proper punctuation for all citation styles in which your faculty run reports, whether APA, MLA, Chicago, or otherwise.
The example above is just a simple illustration of how reports need to properly accommodate the myriad data combinations that faculty can potentially enter. Activity Insight handles proper punctuation and formatting for you, saving your campus from the many complaints you would receive about how poorly the system makes them look—they're faculty, after all, so proper punctuation should be a given.
- Computations in reports let you specify formulae just once and then leverage them many times.
Over the more than ten years that we have offered Activity Insight, we have seen an incredible range in the reports that our clients have asked us to build. Many clients need just basic lists of information, while others provide complex computations. An example of a more complex computation might be for evaluations of faculty members, where one method for assessing a faculty member's performance is to recognize a certain number of "points" based on various factors associated with their activities. Perhaps three points are given for refereed journal articles that are published in a "tier one" (deemed by our client, of course) journal article, two points for a "tier two" article, one point for a "tier three" article, two points for a conference presentation at an international conference, and on and on. Activity Insight enables this type of custom formula to be built just one time, and then leveraged wherever you would like in your reports.
- Different in name, the same in concept mean your academic units see terminology that makes sense to them, while your campus still gets the reports it needs.
Let's say that one of your academic units, perhaps your School of Liberal Arts, has "departments" but another one of your academic units, perhaps your School of Engineering, has "divisions." Let's also say that these are, in principle, the same concept—a manner for grouping faculty. And let's say that you want to have one university-wide report that counts the number of journal articles that were published broken out by academic unit first, and then by major grouping (department, division, etc.). Textually these need to be referred to as different things, but conceptually they're the same. This is a very basic example, as we generally find that our clients have many things that are called different names, but in concept are the same.
Every data field collected in Activity Insight has a "code" behind the scenes. When a report is built into Activity Insight, such as an annual faculty activity report, a promotion or tenure document, or an accreditation report, it references the code of each field rather than the text that faculty members see for the field. So while faculty see "Department" if they are in the School of Liberal Arts versus "Division" if they are in the School of Engineering, when the report is built it would reference "DEP" as the code. This enables reports to pull data from fields that have different names but are in practice the same. The benefit of this is that everyone sees the terms with which they are familiar, while information can still be pulled together for higher-level needs. This is just another example of Activity Insight adapting to your campus rather than your campus adapting to it.
- Search functionality empowers you to find specific information quickly.
If you're looking for specific keywords in the activity information of your faculty, you can use Activity Insight to search for it. Say you're looking for all faculty members who have worked with "clean water technology," simply search those words and Activity Insight will immediately show you matching records. You can even use boolean search strings to easily refine queries.
Other notable features
- Proxy capabilities enable designated users other than your faculty to enter data on their behalf, with all changes audited.
- Workflow enables faculty to submit reports for review by others on your campus.
Eliminate inefficient manual processes when it comes time for annual faculty activity reviews and promotion and tenure. Activity Insight empowers faculty to submit information digitally, keeping it organized and ready for use by designated individuals on your campus. You specify the exact process that submissions should follow, so each reviewer in turn can electronically fulfill their responsibility.
- Role-based security permissions give users the specific access they need and nothing more.
- Single sign-on support for Shibboleth, LDAP and portal authentication allow options to streamline login for your users. In addition, we are a member of the InCommon federation.
- A complete audit log of all changes made, all the way back to your first day using Activity Insight, ensures maximum oversight and control of your data.
- Field- and record-level security settings means everyone on your campus has access to the information that they should, and nothing more.
You have complete control over the information that your campus stores in Activity Insight—down to the individual data field, and the records of data in Activity Insight. These field and record security settings can be applied to any field or record in Activity Insight, and they can be applied in combination.
You might want to make particular fields visible to your faculty, but not editable by them. For example, you might want to keep within Activity Insight the academic rank history of your faculty, such as the date that they obtained each of the ranks of assistant, associate, and full professor. You would then be able to include that information in reports, such as reports for promotion and tenure. You may not, though, want this information to be updated by faculty, so the fields would be set to read-only. Faculty can see the information, but they cannot update it.
There may be some information that you want to load into Activity Insight that is not useful for faculty to see, however it is useful for other purposes. A classic illustration of this is an identifier that is used by another campus data system allowing you to link data between it and Activity Insight. For example, each grant might be assigned a unique identifier by your campus in a grant management system. This is something that is not helpful to faculty, however you may want to load data into Activity Insight from your grant management system so that you can store it. Hidden fields keep data that faculty do not need to see out of sight.
When you load data from other campus systems, you may want to lock the information within Activity Insight so that it can only be modified in your source system. For example, if you load information from your student information system about the courses that your faculty teach, and if changes are needed to the information, it is better to make those changes directly in your student information system and then refresh the information in Activity Insight, rather than trying to make the changes in both systems.
There is a difference between locking fields and locking records—and Activity Insight supports both. For example, if you load information about the courses that your faculty teach, perhaps you do not want anyone to be able to modify the fields that you load, such as the course prefixes, numbers, section numbers, course titles and number of credit hours. If you lock those fields, the only way to update them is to load updated data files. But let's say that you don't want any records of information that you load from other systems to be modified, but you want faculty to be able to add, update, and delete records of information about courses they've taught on other campuses. This is where locking records is beneficial—instead of locking fields on the screen that contains course information, you simply lock the records that you load from your other system. Then faculty can modify the records of course information that they create; they can't modify the locked records that are loaded from another system.
For any fields that you want to ensure faculty completion, those can be made required. If certain fields are required, no new activity records can be saved without filling in those fields. This is a way to ensure your faculty provide the critical information that you need.
- A Beta environment enables you to play with your data without fear of harming your production data.
- Load data and integrate with your existing systems.
- Usage statistics show you which users have updated their information and which need a little nudge.
- Data backups enable you to access all of your information in an easy-to-use format so you can use it in other systems and databases.
- Training materials and documentation help you get the most out of Activity Insight.