Menlo College Dean Attends Oxford University’s Summer Research Institute

Dr. Walters is Menlo College's Dean of Library Services.

July 28, 2011

For the second year in a row, a Menlo College faculty member has participated in Oxford University’s Summer Research Institute. Sponsored by Harris Manchester College, one of 38 colleges of Oxford University, the week-long research opportunity brings visiting scholars in a variety of fields together from all over the world. This year, Dr. William Walters, Dean of Library Services and Associate Professor of Social Sciences, took the opportunity to further his new research project, which could potentially be of great use to undergraduate colleges everywhere.

“Many small undergraduate libraries have trouble figuring out what journals they should subscribe to and what to cancel, and faculty at small colleges may not know where to submit their work. So my idea was to come up with a guide for faculty and librarians, combining different sources of data to come up with master rankings,” said Dr. Walters. His project is among the first to integrate citation-based rankings—how widely a journal is cited by others—as well as subjective rankings based on the opinions of faculty and deans. He plans to critique the methods used to arrive at journal rankings, and attempt to reconcile the sometimes divergent rankings that result when different methods are used. He hopes to release the results of his research in 2012. His work is expected to benefit Menlo College and similar institutions that do not have access to the costly citation data that is needed to assess the relative scholarly impact and prestige of journals.

The Tate Library at the Harris Manchester College of Oxford University. Photo courtesy of the Harris Manchester College.

Dr. Walters made extensive use of Oxford’s libraries while undertaking his research. The Summer Research Institute also provided him with a forum to exchange ideas with faculty from around the world. This year’s Institute, held the first week in July, included several faculty from South Korean universities and ten from universities in Puerto Rico. “It was invigorating just to be in that environment. It was inspiring just to be there,” said Dr. Walters.

Menlo College’s participation is made possible by a generous donation from Dr. John Henry Felix, President and CEO of HMAA, the Hawaii Medical Assurance Association. Dr. Felix is an alumnus of both Menlo College and Harris Manchester College.  He is currently Chairman of the Board of Regents and Vice-President for Development at Harris Manchester College.