Research Support: Issues and Practice

Research Support – issues
and practice
Clare Boucher, Swansea University
Kate Bradbury, Cardiff University
Re-skilling for research
“An investigation into the role and
skills of subject and liaison
librarians required to effectively
support the evolving information
needs of researchers”
Re-skilling for research
• Identifies many familiar skills considered
essential for Research Support: bibliographic,
information literacy, information discovery,
citing & referencing, marketing, knowledge of
data sources
• We will focus on a few of the areas identified
in the report where we are involved in new
services at Swansea & Cardiff
Skills & Knowledge set
“Understanding of research impact
factors and performance indicators
and how they will be used in the REF,
and ability to advise on citation
analysis, bibliometrics etc”
RLUK p38
Bibliometrics training - Cardiff
Training session & workshop (following
a workbook) including citations,
impact factors but also Open Access
issues and improving visibility.
Offered to all staff on HR
programme, plus tailored option for
SciVal trial
• Cardiff University has SciVal on trial for 4 months to
assess its value in identifying research strengths at
• SciVal is being used nationally - For example, the
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills report
International Comparative Performance of the UK
Research Base - 2011, used SciVal (amongst other
sources) to assess the UK research strengths.
• Collaborative effort between University divisions.
• Library’s role is to retrieve & present data from the
database to fully assess its value for institutional
research assessment.
• May also trial InCites for comparison.
“Understanding of the
national and local research
assessment processes and
the requirements of the
RLUK p37
REF support - Cardiff
Online Research @ Cardiff (ORCA) institutional repository
– used as database to supply REF outputs. Major effort
going in to ensure all REF outputs are in ORCA.
Close liaison with Planning & other divisions to ensure
REF requirements are identified and met.
Data mapping – every piece of data required for REF
listed & source is identified.
Subject librarian support – details of outputs; impact
evidence; final collation of outputs; advice on citations,
improving visibility & scholarly communications; plus
getting records into ORCA.
As much full text into ORCA as possible:
increase readership  increase citations?
“Ability to gain an appreciation of
individual researcher/project
needs, including effective
listening skills”
RLUK p37
Researchers’ Needs
• “Support needs to be based on a close
understanding of the researchers’ work, its
patterns and timetables.” (RIN, 2009, p6)
• Researchers crying out for customised
information support. (CILIP Update, 2009)
• Personalising library services in HE (Due out in
Aug. 2012)
Personalising Services for PhDs and
Early Career Researchers (ECRs) Swansea
• Feelings of isolation amongst this group (Blake &
Wright, 2010)
• Anonymity of library support and need for a
“known contact” (Syvälahti &Nevalainenn, 2011)
• Swansea’s Health & Medicine Subject Librarians
piloted the idea of a “personal librarian” for each
new PhD student/ ECR in Health Sciences.
Dear PhD student....
SUBJECT LINE: Library Support during your PhD studies
Dear Sarah Jane
As a new PhD student, you have been assigned a specialist subject librarian,
Susan Smith, to act as your main point of contact with the Library.
We are trying to link each new postgraduate to an individual librarian. This
can be a boon for you because you have someone you know you can
contact directly for advice and queries. After meeting with you, your link
librarian will be aware of your area of interest and may often come across
items that may be of interest to you.
Susan has numerous years of experience as a librarian in the fields of Health
& Medicine, and will be able to advise you on search techniques,
databases, using EndNote to manage references and other resources to
support your research.
Susan will be writing to you shortly to introduce herself and arrange to meet
up with you at a convenient time.....
Proactive Personal Engagement
• Not easy with more established researchers
• Vital if we are to “gain an appreciation of
individual researcher/project needs”
Skills gaps identified by RLUK report – nine
areas which are considered to be of
increasing importance in the future, but
over 50% of respondents indicated that
they have limited or no skills or
Preserving research outputs
Data management and curation
Complying with mandates of funders
Data manipulation tools
Data mining
Preservation of project records eg correspondence
Sources of research funding
Metadata schema & advise on discipline/subject
standards & practices for individual research projects p3
Further reading
Blake, M. and Wright, N.(2010) Postcards from the (research) edge:
staying in touch with students throughout their PhD travels.
SCONUL Focus, 49 . pp. 33-35.
Priestner, A. and Tilley, E. (forthcoming) Personalising Library Services
in Higher Education: The Boutique Approach. Ashgate
RIN & British Library (2009) Patterns of information use and exchange:
case studies of researchers in the life sciences
RLUK (2012) Re-skilling for research
Syvälahti, K. and E. Nevalainen (2011). Knotworking as a means to
strengthen information skills of research groups. LILAC. London.

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