Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute Using PlumX

imageSanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is a non-profit medical research institute located in La Jolla California and Florida. Sanford-Burnham is one of the seven National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated basic research cancer centers in the United States. Sanford-Burnham has over 80 full-time faculty all with their own labs and over 900 scientific staff members working on research. They have received over 170 NIH grants representing over $90 million in the last five years.

Jennifer Vigil, Librarian at Sanford-Burnham, said that at the same time a lot of people were asking questions about their grants, journal citation reports, and metrics about their publications, they had the opportunity to trial PlumXTM. According to Vigil, they seized the trial opportunity because they were going to have access to metrics that were not available through any of their traditional tools.

Since they implemented, Vigil reports having visibility into new ways people are interacting with their research, for example, Facebook Likes & Shares and capturing articles in Mendeley. Below is an article from Sanford-Burnhman’s PlumX that illustrates what Vigil is talking about. This article was just published in 2014, so has not had time to gather citations. Yet, with PlumX you can tell that there is already usage and social media attention, and 48 people capturing this article in Mendeley. These captures can be good indicators of future citations.


Sanford-Burnham is organized around fourteen programs so they set up their PlumX dashboard by program to see the metrics for each program. Some example programs are:

  • Bioinformatics and Structural Biology
  • Cardiovascular Pathobiology
  • Cell Death & Survival Networks
  • etc.

Within each program they have themes so it can be narrowed down even further. For example within the Bioinformatics and Structural Biology program there are two themes, Structural Bioinformatics/Systems Biology and System Biology of Microbes & Microbiome. They can see the metrics for the program, for both of these themes, as well as metrics for the researchers and their research output in the program.

Below is the first page of the Sanford-Burnham PlumX dashboard where you can see a list of programs. This page also displays the research output and their metrics for the entire organization.


“It’s been fun” says Vigil about implementing PlumX and dealing with the structure and the faculty and seeing metrics emerge as more and more PMIDs were put into the system.