The USGS Enterprise Web team has built a facility for users to create their own Professional Pages (see a nice example here). This facility has a series of forms for collecting information from the user/author in a structured way, using a wizard. It's pretty user friendly. It has a very nice feature of automatically offering to populate a bibliography based on USGS pubs (it scans the pubs.usgs.gov information to do this). It even provides URLs to those pubs in the bibliographic listing. It provides a number of descriptive labels with which a user can describe themselves and also allows the user to provide links to things like project pages.
Although the initial purpose of this site was to give employees a convenient way to provide a short biography for things like conferences, it is apparent that the data collected could be used for a lot more. The labels one can use to describe oneself are particularly interesting in that folks trying to staff up a project can query for employees with given skill sets and then seek to collaborate.
It would be interesting to have a conversation about integrating this personnel information into things like Confluence to improve the ability of projects and individuals to find other Survey content and people. Seems like the default Confluence user profile has some ability at user description, but that this is not well developed and that evolving this functionality would be redundant to the the Professional Pages. A simplistic solution would to have the Confluence profile page redirect to the Professional Page.
This kind of data system could be enhanced to exploit other information, like that held by BASIS+, and present it in a much more visually pleasing way. It's likely that ScienceBase is already mining BASIS+ and that the Professional Pages could exploit ScienceBase, rather than figuring out how to directly interface with BASIS+ themselves (which would be redundant).
The Professional Page system provides a nice example of one information system integrating with another with its exploitation of the Publications Warehouse bibliographic content. Although slightly off the topic of personnel pages, it would be nice to push forward on the development of citation information for external publications authored by USGS employees within the Publications Warehouse. I believe that the Libraries Program is already well aware of this, but I'll just give a positive vote for that here. It would also be nice to hear about plans for integrating bibliographic database content and software (like EndNote Web or Mendeley) into things like the Professional Pages and Confluence. Having bibliographic search functions that could be focused by person, project, mission, geography or other criteria would be great additions to both the Professional Pages and Confluence. Citation download functionality would also be good. This could transfer content to a visitor's EndNote Web account for use in Microsoft Word, for example.
The point is that scientists are probably hard-pressed to devote time to documenting their work through these reporting tools because they see populating these systems as whispering into a well. The more options for generating appealing and effective communications from this content, the more attractive creating the content will be to users. I know within my program (Water's National Research Program), folks are looking at revamping the program's web presence. I'm hoping that they can figure out a way to take advantage of things like enterprise personnel, project, and bibliographic databases to effectively talk about the great work being done within NRP projects. Seems like this would be the case for programs, Bureau-wide. An advantage of using enterprise solutions for this rather than "rolling our own" is that this will tend to avoid creating a stovepipe around our program's work. When scientists are planning new work, they don't really care about where another employee sits. They care about who would be good to collaborate with.
If folks care to comment or ask questions, just add a comment to this blog. If we get enough interest, we can move this to a more formal space within CDI.