Marketing Departmental & Individual Milestones - The OpenScholar Survey Results

OpenScholar recently reached out to  10,000 faculty and administrative leaders at over 1,500 U.S. universities and colleges to conduct a survey to understand how colleges and universities leverage their department and faculty publications, research and academic achievements. We specifically targeted and solicited feedback from Deans, Department Chairs and Program Directors from a wide range of disciplines.  I wanted to share the highlights of the survey with you and also give you an opportunity to see how you stack up. More details on that are at the end of this blog post.

The results were surprising and informative and showed that while almost all who surveyed acknowledged the importance of leveraging this type of critical information as a driver to meet key institutional metrics, a great opportunity exists for many higher institutions to highlight their departmental and individual achievements in a more successful manner.  More than half of the respondents in our survey felt they were not effectively promoting their departmental research and other achievements and less than 20% were happy with how individual achievements are promoted. That provides a lot of room for improvement -but why does marketing your milestones matter?

What Was Important

In the survey the metrics impacted by effectively marketing departmental and individual achievements included:  

new survey pie

In the survey, participants acknowledged both the importance of highlighting achievements and that they are  limited in their ability to do so in a manner that easily attracts the attention of internal and external stakeholders. Think about what the impact could be to your department or institution, if you could make a difference in any one of those categories.

All of the survey respondents agreed the metrics are tied—often tightly--to the online presence of the university, departments and faculty. Ineffective online marketing of publications, research and academic achievements—  due to the limitations of the current web presence-- can be problematic to the reputation of a higher education institution. And this issue is even more exaggerated when institutions that are viewed as comparable have adopted a more effective strategy to promote the achievements of their departments.  Do you want your competition to outshine you when you know you have more achievements to promote, they just are not highlighted as well?

How to Change the Narrative at your Institution

The good news is that the adoption of best practices around research and publication promotion changes the story. Your department may have incredible achievements.  You may have individuals that have been published in important journals, participating in exciting research, or have been given prestigious awards. But the value to your institution and importantly your department is diminished when you aren’t effectively marketing your wins.

Here’s some quick tips on what you can do to better promote your work.

  1. Make sure both internal and external stakeholders can find this information AND it’s tied to your department in a way that doesn’t require “digging around for information”
  2. Make it easy for your team to promote your wins. Adopt a platform that doesn’t require extensive IT support or maintenance.  If you don’t, how far down will you be on IT’s priority list? 
  3. Leverage your institution’s brand.  A great deal has gone into developing the brand equity of your institution’s brand, making sure your successes are framed within the context of the overall brand will bring you more visibility.

Because we developed an academic marketing tool that makes it easy to promote these milestones, we have an even more comprehensive list of best practices we can share with you that will help enhance your strategic initiatives. Just drop me a quick note at and we can set up a time to walk through them with you.

How do you stack up?

Based on the overwhelming response of the first round of the survey, we have decided to continue to survey higher education leaders. You can participate in this very short survey at anytime. And to  thank you for your participation, we will share with you, how your answers stack up with others who have responded.  We’ll also provide you with recommendations on how you can drive institutional results by adopting best practices in marketing your department’s key accomplishments.

If you don’t want to take the survey but would like to see the complete survey results, please send an email to and she’ll make sure you get a copy.