Case Studies

The Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The non-profit organization now has nearly 38,000 members in more than 90 countries and publishes the Journal of Neuroscience and eNeuro.

The Challenge

The Society for Neuroscience requires enterprise-wide intelligence for both strategic guidance and to fully implement current policies. In order to plan for their next phase of development, the society wishes to gain a deeper understanding of their current constituents by answering questions such as:

  • How is membership trending in relation to industry sector?
  • Are there opportunities to expand membership beyond the traditional academic sphere?
  • Which organizations contribute most significantly to membership?
  • How can we accurately gauge total engagement with the society, on both an organizational and individual level?

The key to answering these strategic and operational queries lay in data:

SFN has a wealth of records on their members and constituent organizations, but a lack of standardization and demographic data did not allow them to employ this data as an asset.

Members’ and authors’ organizational affiliations were captured in their association management system – Personify – as free text fields. This data included misspellings, acronyms, and abbreviations. SFN wanted to gain deeper understanding of their member and constituent population, but was unable to do so with the data in its former state. SFN needed to both standardize their data, and augment it with demographic details that would allow for accurate and multi-faceted analysis.

The Solution: Identify Database

SFN realized they had a resource which was poised to support this broad initiative: the Identify Database. SFN licensed Identify for many years, and it was used by the institutional subscription team. Now the IT department evaluated it and found Identify met their requirements as well.

SFN began to leverage Identify as an enterprise-wide authority file to standardize all manner of organizations, regardless of role: member affiliation, author affiliation, in addition to the existing application of using Identify for institutional subscribers and prospects.

Specifically, SFN took a two-pronged approach:

  • Capture accurate affiliations at the time of record creation. SFN embedded Identify into a key workflow: account creation which is used for member registration and manuscript submission among other activities. Thus, members and submitting authors now enter their affiliation using a drop-down menu of institution names driven by Identify. No longer entered as free text, each affiliation is standardized and the Ringgold ID is embedded in the records’ metadata within Personify. SFN locally loads a copy of Identify, which is joined to their Personify implementation

  • Normalize existing member and author records. SFN engaged Ringgold’s experts to map key sets of non-standardized affiliations to Identify via the Identify Audit Service. Over a period of two years, SFN selected high-priority member and author records and submitted them to Ringgold for mapping. Once each member affiliation was mapped to an organization record in Identify – including academic, government, hospital, or department-level records – SFN was provided with files enabling the swift importation of accurate affiliation data back into the AMS.

  We are proud to support the Society for Neuroscience’s data governance efforts; knowledge gleaned from these transformed information assets will guide the society forward.

We are committed to providing authoritative organizational data on which our clients can rely.  

Ringgold Inc

The Result

With a higher percentage of AMS records now containing a Ringgold ID, SFN staff has a more accurate picture of total engagement between authors, members, and their affiliated institution

As of May 2017, over 45,000 records in Personify have Ringgold IDs associated to them.  On the operational front, SFN will be able to provide better value to organizations and individual members by understanding total engagement across different sectors and creating incentives to increase overall engagement.

SFN is also building reporting tools needed to leverage this new improved data in order to power strategic planning. Using institutional data, they have conducted pilot reporting on their author base, after which they will turn their attention to membership data. SFN is also expanding their team to include a data analyst, enhancing their bandwidth and capabilities.