About Profiles Research Networking Software


BU Profiles is a software tool that supports research networking and expertise searches. It enables individuals (either internal or external to Boston University) to locate researchers by subject matter keyword or by First or Last Name, Institution, Department, Division, Faculty Type, etc. BU Profiles is a new way to network and collaborate, find potential mentors, search for relevant panel members and advisory board expertise, evaluate research trends by investigator, and broadly surveys the community at large. BU Profiles offers traditional contact information but then also shows how individuals are connected to others in the larger research community. BU Profiles is brought to the BU community by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (BU CTSI).

Important types of information displayed in an individual's profile:

1.  Managed Descriptions: Name, titles, affiliation, phone number and email address. Researchers can edit their own profiles, adding publications, awards, narrative, and a photo.

2.  Passive Networks: (Displayed on the right of each profile webpage).
Automatically formed when BU researchers share common traits such as: work in the same department, work in the same building, co-author the same paper, or research the same topics (as defined, by publication keywords (e.g. "MeSH"). Passive networks are automatically updated with each new publication cited in PubMed

3.  Active Networks: (Displayed on the left of each profile webpage).
Defined by each researcher and, if actively managed, can significantly enhance the power and value of BU PROFILES. When logged in to BU Profiles and viewing other profiles, you can mark individuals as collaborators, advisors, or advisees. In summary, you can build your own network of close collaborators. Only you can only see the network that you build. In the future you will be able to share your lists with others.


Network Pages

Network Pages show all the people in a particular Passive or Active Network. Networks can also include other types of profiles, not just people. A "concept" network is a list of all the topics a person has written about. There are many ways to display a network other than a simple list, and Profiles offers several types of network visualization tools.

Connection Pages

Certain Network Pages will include a "Why?" link. These will take you to a Connection Page, which shows why two people or profiles in that network are connected. For example, the Why link in a co-authorship network lists the publications that two people wrote together. The Connection Pages also reveal why certain people appear higher on search results and why particular concepts are highlighted on a person's profile.


Profiles Research Networking Software includes several different ways to view networks, including (from left to right) Concept Clouds, which highlight a person's areas of research; Map Views, which show where a person's co-authors are located; Publication Timelines, which graph the number of publications of different types by year; Radial Network Views, which illustrate clusters of connectivity among related people; and Concept Timelines, which depict how a person's research focus has changed over time.

Sharing Data

Profiles Research Networking Software is a Semantic Web application, which means its content can be read and understood by other computer programs. This enables the data in profiles, such as addresses and publications, to be shared with other institutions and appear on other websites. If you click the "Export RDF" link on the left sidebar of a profile page, you can see what computer programs see when visiting a profile. For technical information about how build a computer program that can export data from Profiles Research Networking Software, view the Sharing Data page.