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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 …

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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    • 1. Who are our researchers - and what do they need? Jo Webb Head of Academic Services
    • 2.
      • Researchers
      • Subject area
      • Career stage
      • Contract and institution
      • Solo or team-based
      • In institution or remote
      • What do they need?
      • Use of library
        • as destination or last resort?
        • services
      • Use of academic resources
      • Use of information resources
        • Information behaviours
      • Training and support?
    • 3. What researchers told me
      • Research is
      • Theory-led; Data-led; Scholarship
      • Grounded in disciplines; multi / inter / trans disciplinary
      • Investigation; interpretation; gathering evidence; policy focused
      • A holistic activity; a set of transferable skills
      • Collaborative / solo activity
      • Related to self
      • Validated by peer group
      • Made meaningful by an external audience
    • 4. What the researchers told me
      • Researchers are:
      • Usually recognised within organization and…
      • people who find out new things, reflect and take action
      • at different levels and career stages
      • working in different disciplines
      • obliged to share what they find – to put knowledge into the public domain
      • ready to be challenged
      • making connections
      • passionate
      • ambitious
    • 5. Researchers’ learning lives - the 7 ages model
      • Different conceptions of research and information needs / IL information behaviours by age and/or career stage
      • Interviews with researchers in UK and more widely indicated:
        • Earlier experiences (and emotions) influenced present behaviours
        • Needs and priorities varied at discrete career stages
        • Attitudes and values change at each stage
    • 6. 7 ages of research
      • Masters students
      • Doctoral students
      • Contract researchers
      • Early career researchers
      • Established academic staff
      • Senior researchers
      • Experts
      • {
      • {
      • {
    • 7. Early
      • Apprenticeship - influenced by supervisors / tutors / mentors
      • Skills and competences are defined (also funded and monitored)
      • Different levels of control
      • Transition from structured learning to self-organization
      • Interaction between personal life / prior experiences
      • Managing different roles e.g. other jobs, developing teaching skills
      • Information consumer, objective is production
    • 8. Early
      • 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]
      • 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]
      • I reckon I spent nearly all my first year reading journal articles. [Computing Sciences Final year PhD, UK]
      • 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]
    • 9. Mid
      • Moving field / moving role / learning a different landscape
      • Balancing teaching and research
      • Situating yourself / making a name / establishing credentials
        • locally (e.g. in department) and in wider research community
      • Need to be adaptable / avoiding isolation
      • Supervising other researchers
      • Role in management / administration
      • Information production and consumption
      • Shift from systematic to pragmatic information retrieval
        • ‘ Librarians love to search. Everyone else likes to find’ (Eric Lease Morgan )
    • 10. Mid
      • 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]
      • 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]
      • 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]
      • RIN studies on search and discovery, access and use of information services (
    • 11. Late / Senior
      • Significant role in research leadership and administration
      • Leading research teams / research centres / research projects / mainstream management
      • Examining theses
      • Leading research(er) development
      • Plenary conference speaker
      • Editorial board of journals etc.
      • Refereeing / peer reviewer / specialist assessor
      • Disseminating research practice or defining their fields
    • 12. Late
      • 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]
      • 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]
      • These days all my papers are invited plenaries and similar tertiary reviews. [Retired Professor of Chemistry, UK]
      • 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]
    • 13. External drivers
      • Funding
        • distribution of QR monies after RAE 2008
      • Research Excellence Framework
        • Bibliometrics
        • Increased importance of repositories
        • End of selective submission of research-active staff
      • Roberts and skills development
      • PRES (Postgraduate Research Experience Survey)
      • Research Information Network
      • Institutional competitiveness
      • Millennials / digital natives…
      • Concern about the data deluge and e-science / e-research
    • 14.
      • 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)
      • I simply read more less-relevant material …. Costs and reliance on the internet have diminished the variety of materials available. [TESOL lecturer, Turkey]
      • 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]
    • 15. What do they need?
      • Universal and seamless access to knowledge and information
      • User-centred LIS services / organizations
      • High impact / value / cost-effectiveness
    • 16. DMU Research Support Strategy 2008 -
      • Collections and document supply services
      • Researcher training and support
      • REF, bibliometrics, repository development and scholarly communication
      • Researcher spaces
      • Targeted services
      • Marketing
      • Library staff roles
    • 17.
      • 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]
    • 18. References
      • 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.
      • 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.
      • Lipsett, A. (2009) Anxious wait. Guardian 20 January, Available from
      • Webb, J., M. Bent and P. Gannon-Leary (2007) Providing effective library services for research . London: Facet.