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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Smithsonian Research Online?
Smithsonian Research Online (SRO) is a program to capture the scholarly and research publications of Smithsonian staff and affiliates. This will assist in measuring and communicating the magnitude, value and impact of Smithsonian research to those who have an interest including Members of Congress; grant-makers, donors and other supporters; the Smithsonian and external research community; and ultimately, the general public. The SRO will provide a permanent record of the Institution's scholarly achievement for use by Smithsonian staff as well as the broader research community and the general public.

What publications will be included?
The bibliography will initially include citations to scholarly articles, books, chapters, published conference papers and electronic publications. Contributions should be formally published in print or online before submission. No 'in-press' material or as yet unpublished papers, presentations, etc. should be entered. The types of publications to be included will most often appear in peer-reviewed journals. It will be up to individual Smithsonian directors to determine if other types of publications generated from their staff, such as those appearing in popular or general interest magazines, brochures, etc., should be included. The SIL will not not evaluate or filter the contributed content for appropriateness for inclusion or scholarly merit.

Who should participate?
All Smithsonian museums, research centers, and offices whose staff produce research publications are eligible to participate. The service will include data on publications authored by Smithsonian staff (federal and trust), staff from other agencies housed in the Smithsonian and working on Smithsonian collections, and affiliates, including research associates, graduate and post-doc students, and visiting scholars among others.

How can I contribute?

There are several methods available for submission of data. A complete list of required data elements including administrative information is listed here. Acceptable publication types and complete instructions are listed at
  • Some units collect citations in local databases and may be able to continue to load them into the Research Bibliography database in a batch mode.
  • Staff currently using EndNote, Pro-Cite, Reference Manager, RefWorks or Zotero can export publication data in RIS format and email it to the information services librarian. Instruction and advice on using these packages or how to export/submit the data can be obtained by contacting
  • Users can also input data directly using the web form:

Should I enter everything I've ever published?

The breadth and depth of publications submitted to the SRO is between the author and his/her supervisor or director. While it would be best to have a comprehensive list of all Smithsonian-authored publications in the database, it is recognized that this can be tedious to create. Items written by Smithsonian staff/affiliates prior to their coming to the Institution may be entered but should be identified as such by notifying the SIL. And while Smithsonian authors work on and create multi-media, audio, video and popular works describing their research, the overwhelming majority of entries in the Bibliography are books, chapters or journal articles. There are currently 83,025 items in the Bibliography, of which 80,896 are books, chapters or journal articles.

How will the information be retrieved?
The bibliography will be available through a searchable website that is part of the Smithsonian Libraries' Galaxy of Knowledge. For SI directors, the service will generate quarterly reports that contribute to the broader picture of research output and activity of SI scholars. With this data collected, standardized, and maintained in one place, it is hoped that in the future it can be re-used in Smithsonian departmental and individual websites and in other custom reports and functions. To the extent possible--and taking into account copyright and intellectual property issues--the actual documents themselves may be captured and made accessible through the Smithsonian Digital Repository.

Can reports by fiscal year be generated?
While the Research Bibliography coordinator recognizes the need to report metrics based on fiscal year rather than calendar year it may be problematic to do so. For many publications including books and book chapters, it is not clear in what month the item was officially released. In addition, authors and librarians are sometimes unable to determine this information. Even some journal publication dates do not define the exact month of release (e.g. Fall, 2008). Therefore it is recommended that those who require reporting based on fiscal year contact the Bibliography coordinator to see if a suitable custom report can be generated.

What are the responsibilities of the participants?
The obligations of the SIL, publication authors and museum administration are listed below

Museum/Unit Directors:
  • Responsible for determining the names of appropriate divisions, departments, programs, or other administrative units that should be included in the database with specific citations for reporting purposes
  • Responsible for notifying SIL of any content that should be deleted and/or revised based on a review of regular reports

  • Responsible for timely, appropriate, accurate and complete submission of data
  • Responsible for submitting data using the file format or web form specified by the SIL
  • Responsible for review of data (via public website or reports from unit director) and notification of SIL if any errors are found or changes required

Smithsonian Institution Libraries:
  • Responsible for training authors/contributors and for providing flexible method(s) of submission
  • Responsible for aggregating the data from the various sources and standardizing Smithsonian author names, journal titles, and department names
  • Responsible for submitting regular reports to museum directors regarding publications received during the reporting period
  • Responsible for working with units to develop appropriate department, division, program, or other designations to track categories of content.
  • Responsible for creating a website for public use containing a searchable database of publications
  • Responsible for archiving the data for future use.

Who will manage the bibliography?
The Smithsonian Institution Libraries will administer and manage the Research Bibliography. The program manager is Alvin Hutchinson. SI unit directors or their representatives and authors may send queries and comments to him at 202-633-1031.

What is the relationship between the Research Bibliography and the
Digital Repository?
The Smithsonian Libraries also manages the Smithsonian Digital Repository to which authors may deposit digital copies of their work for long-term preservation and access. The Libraries encourages contributions, which can be made as part of the process of contributing citations to the bibliography. However, there may be copyright considerations concerning such contributions.
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