Researchers and their library needs


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How researchers need and use libraries through their careers. From an EMALINK one-day conference 'Supporting the research agenda' 21st January 2009. Presenter Jo Webb. Based on collaborative work with Moira Bent and Pat Gannon-Leary

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  • Researchers and their library needs

    1. 1. Who are our researchers - and what do they need? Jo Webb Head of Academic Services
    2. 2. <ul><li>Researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Subject area </li></ul><ul><li>Career stage </li></ul><ul><li>Contract and institution </li></ul><ul><li>Solo or team-based </li></ul><ul><li>In institution or remote </li></ul><ul><li>What do they need? </li></ul><ul><li>Use of library </li></ul><ul><ul><li>as destination or last resort? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>services </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use of academic resources </li></ul><ul><li>Use of information resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information behaviours </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Training and support? </li></ul>
    3. 3. What researchers told me <ul><li>Research is </li></ul><ul><li>Theory-led; Data-led; Scholarship </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded in disciplines; multi / inter / trans disciplinary </li></ul><ul><li>Investigation; interpretation; gathering evidence; policy focused </li></ul><ul><li>A holistic activity; a set of transferable skills </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative / solo activity </li></ul><ul><li>Related to self </li></ul><ul><li>Validated by peer group </li></ul><ul><li>Made meaningful by an external audience </li></ul>
    4. 4. What the researchers told me <ul><li>Researchers are: </li></ul><ul><li>Usually recognised within organization and… </li></ul><ul><li>people who find out new things, reflect and take action </li></ul><ul><li>at different levels and career stages </li></ul><ul><li>working in different disciplines </li></ul><ul><li>obliged to share what they find – to put knowledge into the public domain </li></ul><ul><li>ready to be challenged </li></ul><ul><li>making connections </li></ul><ul><li>passionate </li></ul><ul><li>ambitious </li></ul>
    5. 5. Researchers’ learning lives - the 7 ages model <ul><li>Different conceptions of research and information needs / IL information behaviours by age and/or career stage </li></ul><ul><li>Interviews with researchers in UK and more widely indicated: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Earlier experiences (and emotions) influenced present behaviours </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Needs and priorities varied at discrete career stages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attitudes and values change at each stage </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. 7 ages of research <ul><li>Masters students </li></ul><ul><li>Doctoral students </li></ul><ul><li>Contract researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Early career researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Established academic staff </li></ul><ul><li>Senior researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Experts </li></ul><ul><li>{ </li></ul><ul><li>{ </li></ul><ul><li>{ </li></ul>
    7. 7. Early <ul><li>Apprenticeship - influenced by supervisors / tutors / mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Skills and competences are defined (also funded and monitored) </li></ul><ul><li>Different levels of control </li></ul><ul><li>Transition from structured learning to self-organization </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction between personal life / prior experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Managing different roles e.g. other jobs, developing teaching skills </li></ul><ul><li>Information consumer, objective is production </li></ul>
    8. 8. Early <ul><li>I consider myself to be at the start of my research career, although I have been doing research for about 4 years. [Recent PhD graduate, South Africa] </li></ul><ul><li>I don’t think I was a good researcher for my PhD. You need to have a mentor to show you the ropes and the pitfalls. You can train for some things. The best is to work alongside someone successful and learn from them. [Dean of Research, UK] </li></ul><ul><li>I reckon I spent nearly all my first year reading journal articles. [Computing Sciences Final year PhD, UK] </li></ul><ul><li>I worked to all hours in my carrel in the library on my thesis. I was so immersed, the library felt like a blessed place. [Assistant Professor and recent PhD, US] </li></ul>
    9. 9. Mid <ul><li>Moving field / moving role / learning a different landscape </li></ul><ul><li>Balancing teaching and research </li></ul><ul><li>Situating yourself / making a name / establishing credentials </li></ul><ul><ul><li>locally (e.g. in department) and in wider research community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Need to be adaptable / avoiding isolation </li></ul><ul><li>Supervising other researchers </li></ul><ul><li>Role in management / administration </li></ul><ul><li>Information production and consumption </li></ul><ul><li>Shift from systematic to pragmatic information retrieval </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Librarians love to search. Everyone else likes to find’ (Eric Lease Morgan ) </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Mid <ul><li>I hardly ever use databases, probably because I’m not usually starting from a position of knowing nothing. I tend to start with a few key papers and then follow up their references. [Senior lecturer in Biology, UK] </li></ul><ul><li>When I'm writing papers I focus more attention on the abstract – often that is as far as most people (including me) get with e journals! [Environmental Scientist, UK] </li></ul><ul><li>Each project has involved a very steep learning curve requiring me to involve myself in the associated literature and get up to speed with the topic in hand. [Contract researcher in the social sciences] </li></ul><ul><li>RIN studies on search and discovery, access and use of information services ( </li></ul>
    11. 11. Late / Senior <ul><li>Significant role in research leadership and administration </li></ul><ul><li>Leading research teams / research centres / research projects / mainstream management </li></ul><ul><li>Examining theses </li></ul><ul><li>Leading research(er) development </li></ul><ul><li>Plenary conference speaker </li></ul><ul><li>Editorial board of journals etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Refereeing / peer reviewer / specialist assessor </li></ul><ul><li>Disseminating research practice or defining their fields </li></ul>
    12. 12. Late <ul><li>I have 5 years to retirement but research is becoming more important in my career. I still have one, even though retirement is looming [South African researcher] </li></ul><ul><li>If I couldn’t find it myself on the Internet, then I’d ask my students first, my RAs, then I’d come to the library. The RAs live and die finding info. [Professor of Industrial Statistics, UK] </li></ul><ul><li>These days all my papers are invited plenaries and similar tertiary reviews. [Retired Professor of Chemistry, UK] </li></ul><ul><li>As a researcher, the difference is that I know how to do research and I am connected into all the networks. [Dean of Research, Humanities, UK] </li></ul>
    13. 13. External drivers <ul><li>Funding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>distribution of QR monies after RAE 2008 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research Excellence Framework </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bibliometrics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased importance of repositories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>End of selective submission of research-active staff </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Roberts and skills development </li></ul><ul><li>PRES (Postgraduate Research Experience Survey) </li></ul><ul><li>Research Information Network </li></ul><ul><li>Institutional competitiveness </li></ul><ul><li>Millennials / digital natives… </li></ul><ul><li>Concern about the data deluge and e-science / e-research </li></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><li>While searching, I’m mostly looking at the articles that I do have access to, and quite often not even bothering to read the abstracts of the ones that I haven’t got access to, since it would take me a couple of days to receive that information anyway. If there’s nothing useful in the accessible ones, I’ll turn to the rest. Sad but true… (PhD Chemistry Student, Sweden) </li></ul><ul><li>I simply read more less-relevant material …. Costs and reliance on the internet have diminished the variety of materials available. [TESOL lecturer, Turkey] </li></ul><ul><li>Information overload, so much being published, you need to siphon off the good from the bad. Now you have to be much much more choosy – that is the biggest challenge facing us all. [Professor in Industrial Statistics, UK] </li></ul>
    15. 15. What do they need? <ul><li>Universal and seamless access to knowledge and information </li></ul><ul><li>User-centred LIS services / organizations </li></ul><ul><li>High impact / value / cost-effectiveness </li></ul>
    16. 16. DMU Research Support Strategy 2008 - <ul><li>Collections and document supply services </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher training and support </li></ul><ul><li>REF, bibliometrics, repository development and scholarly communication </li></ul><ul><li>Researcher spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Targeted services </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing </li></ul><ul><li>Library staff roles </li></ul>
    17. 17. <ul><li>I hate the way the interfaces are designed and the structures are constructed, which suit the librarians’ mental models of running a library, but do not support browsing search strategies and the users’ mental models. The user is forced to adapt and learn by heart, the logic which is meant as a tool for storing things – in order to retransform it into a logic which is usable for finding things. [Assistant Professor, Pedagogy and ICTs, Denmark] </li></ul>
    18. 18. References <ul><li>Bent, M., P. Gannon-Leary and J. Webb (2007) Information literacy in a researcher’s learning life: the seven ages of research, New review of information networking , 13(2), pp. 81-99. </li></ul><ul><li>Gannon-Leary, P., M. Bent and J. Webb (2008) The research library of the future, its users and its librarians, Library and Information Research , 32(101), pp. 3-14. </li></ul><ul><li>Lipsett, A. (2009) Anxious wait. Guardian 20 January, Available from </li></ul><ul><li>Webb, J., M. Bent and P. Gannon-Leary (2007) Providing effective library services for research . London: Facet. </li></ul>