Strategic publishing

What is an NTRO?

Not all research output takes the form of journals articles, books, book chapters or conference papers. Some researchers consult with government or private organisations to produce reports in their area of expertise, others create research datasets, software code or 3D images. Humanities and social sciences researchers produce outputs such as live performances, curated exhibitions and original creative works. These non traditional research outputs (NTROs) are not typically published in the conventional sense and can be difficult to find via library catalogues, databases or in Google Scholar. However, they play an important role in advancing knowledge and can demonstrate the impact of a university or research centre’s work.

Making NTROs visible using Persistent Identifiers (PIDS)

It has been difficult to track the impact of NTROs in the past because they are not indexed by academic databases and do not receive the associated citation counts. However, the growth of alternative metric databases such as Altmetric Explorer and PlumX has made tracking and measuring at least some of these outputs more feasible.

The key to making NTROs visible is assigning them a persistent identifier (PID) that distinguishes them uniquely and permanently, in the same way that an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) identifies a book uniquely.

Examples of PIDs that can be used for NTROs include:

Digital Object Identifier (DOI) logo

This is the most commonly used identifier and is backed up by International Standard ISO 26324. DOIs can be assigned to any entity - physical, digital or abstract —items themselves do not need to be digital. DOIs are “minted” by DOI registration agencies and via a number of allocating agents such as the Australian Research Data Commons.

International Geo Sample Number (IGSN) logo IGSN is a unique persistent identifier for physical samples such as rocks, drill cores and soils as well as related sampling features such as sections, dredges, wells and drill holes. The John de Laeter Centre at Curtin University is an allocating agent for IGSNs.

Research Resource identifier (RRID) logo

This identifier focuses on biomedical resources such as antibodies, model organisms, cell lines, plasmids, and other tools (software, databases, services).

Persistent identifiers like these can then be used in all communications around your research, be they in traditional scholarly communications such as journal articles, in social media promotion of your work, or in an institutional repository such as Curtin’s espace. PID links allow other scholars to cite your work correctly and electronic databases to find, identify and attribute your work.

Tools for tracking NTROs

There are a number of tools available for tracking NTROs:

  • Altmetric Explorer tracks mentions of research publications online, in social media, media and other sources such as patents and policy documents. It allows you to browse by and generate analytical reports for Curtin authors, groups or departments, analyse mentions of individual publications and see any individual mention in the database. Logging in details for Curtin researchers are available in the Alternative metrics guide.
  • ImpactStory allows you to create a free profile that tracks activity in social media, blogs, news outlets and more.
  • PlumX Metrics captures mentions, social media, usage and citations. It is integrated into the Scopus database and is available at article level.

For more information on the tools available to track NTROs and other research outputs, see the Alternative metrics guide.

NTROs at Curtin

The 2018 ERA count included the following non-traditional research outputs:

  • original creative works

  • live performance of creative works

  • recorded/rendered creative works

  • curated or produced substantial public exhibitions and events

  • research reports for an external body

  • portfolio

Where feasible, these NTROs should be entered into Elements and captured in espace to ensure they count for ERA and that they are also discoverable by Google Scholar. Guidance on how to do this is provided in the Curtin Elements manual.

For more information on demonstrating the research contribution of these types of output contact your Faculty or School ERA representative or the ROC Relationships Team.

Although not eligible for ERA, research data sets are valuable outputs which are often mandated for open publication by publishers.

Curtin Library can assist in minting DOIs for research data sets and adding them to the Curtin Research Data Collection. Data may take any format including:

  • analysis of physical samples e.g. geochronology of minerals;

  • experimental or laboratory data (not including working data);

  • simulations generated from test models;

  • derivations or compilations e.g. text and data mining, databases, 3D models;

  • photographs and images;

  • audio and videos;

  • supplementary data to a Higher Degree by Research thesis;

  • software;

  • web services.

For more information see the Curtin Research Data Collection webpage.


Publishing Power Hour 3: Publishing your research data [00:40:44] (Curtin staff and students only)

Other types of NTRO may not be eligible for the ERA count but could potentially have value as part of a narrative around engagement and impact.

For example, a mention of your white paper in a policy document can show evidence of its direct influence in policy decision making. The white paper itself may not count towards ERA but its impact on policy tells a great story for the ERA Engagement and Impact (EI) round. Similarly, if your code has been reused by a number of researchers in the field, its impact can also be part of an EI narrative.

There are a number of external repositories which can assign a DOI to such research outputs and allow you to identify, track and promote them. Some examples include:

  • Zenodo
    This is an open repository that includes all types of research outputs and is backed up by secure data storage at CERN. Items published on Zenodo are allocated two DOIs – one for the specific version of your record and another for all versions, or the broad concept of your work.

  • CORE
    A full-text, interdisciplinary, non-profit open repository designed to increase the impact of work in the humanities. All items are allocated a DOI.

Consult with your School Deputy Dean of Research to find out which repositories are favoured in your discipline or check out the Registry of Research Data Repositories.