Institutions face various challenges as they attempt to categorize the nature of their research projects and the tangible products that result. One challenge is need to satisfy multiple audiences, providing analytical data for the institution, as well as appropriate information to attract partners or licensees from outside of the institution.
While any combination of attributes can be used to isolate information and provide metrics using reporting tools, classification codes can be a particularly efficient means of relating and grouping research projects. There are a several points to consider when establishing a classification code hierarchy:
- How granular do the individual codes need to be to satisfy their purpose?
- How intuitive are the distinctions between values to the intended audience?
- How do you ensure consistent application of specific values to projects?
One benefit of classification codes is that the hierarchy can be used to consolidate projects, where distinction between the individual values associated is not needed.
Another benefit is that multiple codes can be associated with the same project, so an institution can establish broad, easily recognized values, that in combination can identify specific relationships.
Yet another benefit is that multiple hierarchies can be used concurrently, allowing an institution to establish different sets of values to address internal and external needs, as long as this does not create administrative burden to maintain, and the values can be applied consistently.
Finally, classification codes can be established within a specific area of research administration, or for use across all areas – unifying activities between offices.
In practice, there are several widely used classification systems, however for institutions that work in specific fields, those systems may be too large and too broad for their audience. Those classification systems can still be used as a model, either to establish a unique hierarchy for the institution, or to extract a section of the hierarchy that is relevant.