Thank you to the organisers (Annette van Vuuren) for inviting me to this eventWonderful opportunity to share …And to learn from the thinking you have My topic is “Getting on with it – research support services at an academic library”
Divided roughly into four parts – incidentally 4 c’sContext/background (for the development of research support services)Conceptual approachComponents / building blocks Comparing
Starting with the context is very importantIn fact, we found it is the most central and KEY aspect of our RS servicesIt is essential to make the link between what is happening in the ENVIRONMENT to react appropriately.
It is a worldwide phenomenon that RS is expanding and transformingAnd this comes as a reaction to major forces which have a fundamental impact on universities + librariesThe forces behind this phenomen have been at play for the last 10 -15 years:new and rapidly changing technologiesan abundance of digital information in various formatsan increased understanding of how students learnevolving research methods changing practices in how scholars share their research (thinking here specifically about Open Access)
These changes have had a tremendous impact on the way research is doneChanges in the research landscape are explained by different conceptual schoolsWell-known models include: Dr. Michael Gibbons’ New Production of Knowledge - Mode 2 (1994)Drs. Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff – well known for the Triple Helix (1998)
The attributes of “new science” include:Knowledge creation is focused on solving problems (e.g. Aids research, as opposed to science for the sake of science)Application-basedTeam-driven, partnership-basedTransdisciplinary - (e.g. Bio-informatics = information systems + biomedical research)Heterogeneous - a variety of organisations engage with research and interact with each other (universities, industrial laboratories, government agencies, etc.)Great awareness of impact - Researchers are more aware of (sensitive to) the impact of their research.. Social responsibilityScience is not only evaluated by peers – society engages with science in social media spaces
New RS services also directly responds to South Africa’s research agenda -which you are aware ofThe research agenda is articulated in the documents listedAll of which are based on the principle/premise that there is a link between research production and wealth.Specific goals of the research agenda include:Increased targets for publication output rate Increased enrolment in science, engineering and technologyIncreased masters and doctoral enrolmentsIncreased number of permanent academicstaff with PhDsUniversities are seen as playing an extremely important role in enhancing innovation skills through research output and student throughput.
Naturally there is also the University’s research agendaAt Stellenbosch Univ, research was prioritised in 2008 & 2009In this time, specific objectives set out to change the ratio of students to being more favourable towards senior/research studentsincrease through-put ratehalf the completion time of masters & doctoralIncreased numbers of PhDsand of course increase research output
One cannot talk about RS at Stb Univ Library without mentioning RLC Indeed it is in many ways the starting pointSpecifically in terms of the Research Commons which became the launch pad for many of our servicesRLC played and immense role in strengthening knowledge, infrastrucure, staff skills and provided a very firm foundation for enhancing and expanding servicesThe four areas which the RLC addressed were: portal, commons, librarian skills and digitisationWhat added to the significance was that RLC objectives became entwined with Library objectives
The library’s approach to RS is threefold:Firstly it is holisticSecondly, it is inclusiveThirdly, based on best practice (learn from others)
The library’s approach to RS is threefold:Firstly it is holisticSecondly, it is inclusiveThirdly, based on best practice (learn from others)
First principle in our conceptual approach =HOLISTICWhich means that we align services with research workflow by using the research life cycle as a systematic model and framework.We purposefully aim to play a role in each of the phases of the life cycleThis also provides a framework to encourage innovation and the expansion of research support services.
We have identified six phases and represents a fusion of a number of similar life cycles in the literature
Managing and preserving research output and dataResearch outputs may include textual data (eg pre- and post-print journal articles, conference papers, presentations and often theses and dissertations), images, moving images and sound recordings;Research data may include datasets on which research publications are based; and other experimental data.
Second principle in our CONCEPTUAL APPROACH = Research support is InclusiveIt is regarded as a suite of services related through its focus on needs of reseachers (vs undergrad and academic teaching staff)Services inclusive in RS are:Institutional repositoryOnline journal publishingResearch Performance ManagementDivision for Research SupportInformation Services (Faculty Librarians)Digital ServicesCampus partners
Third principle=BEST PRACTICE Research support is a new and evolving field in librarianship Its interpreted differently in different parts of the world. In SA we seem to be aligned with the UK and Australia. USA little bit different (GIS, Data support and visualisation, Digital Humanities, Media)Important to stay abreast of developments; take note of what’s working and what not and incorporate what is useful and appropriate into your own services
Fortunately however there are a number of librarians who have published their RS experiences And have expanded the framework for RS substantiallyOther authors include Sheila Corral, Andrew Wells, Martin Borchert, and a few others
Some indication of best practice is also provided by a number of reports published by professional organisations such as:RESEARCH LIBRARIES UKARLOCLCConsortium of University Research Libraries (CURL)RESEARCH INFORMATION NETWORK and a few othersHave also contributed to how RS has evolved and what services should look like
To this effect SCONUL’s research lens on information literacy (2011) is also very helpfulComplemented by booklets such as “The informed researcher” published by Vitae in the UKThis document addresses upstream research activities such as publication, peer-review, author rights, data management and curation
Just listing the components and building blocks of RS is very boring and tediousSo I have decided to create a metaphor to visually depict the different partsIn doing this, I decided to use something really cool and with-it – so that it can also indicate how we measure up
The most with-it thing around, in fact they are all around – even in the library – are skateboardersWhy Steve is an appealing benchmark, is because he is also an AvatarAs such he can be deconstructed to show different parts and layersAlso, looking at Steve, you realise that there is nothing co-incidental about him - every item, accessory and piece of clothing was added to his appearance purposefully.The message in this is that “with-it is hard work”, it does not happen all at once, and it consists of parts and layersTo better understand this, we will undress Steve to see what some of the building blocks are
Steve did not wake up one morning had all the gear and looked like a skateboarderSteve’s look and skill came from a philosophy – wanting to be free from societal constraintsexpress a lifestyle Have skill, technique, having a certain imageThere are all kinds of things that motivate Steve and guide his appearance and actions.
Just like Steve, RS must be guided by a plan for successAt Stellenbosch, our Strategic Plan addresses specific aspects of research support such asScholarly publication & open accessresearch performance managementpublication support2. There is also leadership - in the form of a Research Support Committee which is chaired by the head of the library. This shows significant emphasis and commitment for research support. 3. Important structure is provided by sanctions such as: Mandatory submission of theses and dissertations and we are currently working on Mandatory self-archiving of research output.
In this slide, you will see that Steve has found himself a cool t-shirt, fashionable shoes, headphones and sliding gloves. He is certainly getting there, but he is still far from where he wants to be
At Stb Library, our cool t-shirt is ourDigital research repository, which we call SUNScholarArchives and makes available digital materials created by researchers. It includes research articles, as well as completed theses and dissertations by students of the University. Secondary research material includes inaugural addresses and presentations2. Our Research Commons represents our fashionable shoesIt’s Modern space exclusively for masters and doctoral students and academic staffIt’s a service rich environment - takes a holistic approach to research support - tries to provide a seamless service experienceThe RC presents workshops, partnerships and video-conferencingMore about the RC …
Timeline:SU joins the RLC - 2009Construction completed – Jan 2011Soft opening – 16 March 2011Official opening – 9 March 2011Renaming event – 18 Nov 2011
Spaces (deskspace, discussion rooms, lounge, white boardsEquipment (laptops, video conferencing)Utilities (wireless, lockers, printing, photocopying, scanning, coffee)Reference collection: Research methodology, Scientific writing skills, Reference techniques, Dictionaries
A large area in the Research Commons is set aside for relaxation, informal networking and scholarly dialogue sessions.Research Commons’ users are encouraged to use the relaxation area for informal networking
Seminar rooms in the Research Commons are for the exclusive use of senior students and researchers. These rooms provide extra comfort, are ICT-enabled and allow for refreshments. The rooms are used extensively for team work, researchers co-authoring articles and for group discussions and meetings.
Specifically designed for researchers offeringlarger desk spaceComfortable seatingHigher sound partitions / double up as notice boards
Style of the RC sembles a VIP LoungeHigh class finishes – expression of respect and value of researchersStyle: Afro Chic – interesting, bold, friendly and aimed to be inspiringEnsured that it is indigenous South African designs, furniture and fabric
Events are offered regularly to contribute to the culture of reseach networkingOpportunity for researchers to build relationships. The “Social Hour” a distinguished researcher is invited to give a short inspirational talk followed by discussion and refreshments. Emerging researchers can engage, find inspiration, exchange ideas, support each other and socialise
Room accommodates eight participants and up to three remote locations can be connected simultaneously. free of charge to academic staff and students make use of Internet connectivity provided by the Library and Information Service. It fundamentally supports research networking
Back to Steve and the components of Research SupportSo now Steve has some defining features and he is starting to look like a skateboarder. Note the hair style, the beanie and the loose shirt
The aspects which define our RS are :Research performance managementThe library has been bold about supporting research performance management - subscribing to SciVal Spotlight, Strata and Experts and actively promoting these tools.We also investigated innovative ways to use the RPM tools. For example, we found that SciVal Spotlight provides useful information for students looking for topics and who want to align research with institutional strengths.2. Research impact measurement is supported in a number of ways. Using metricsto support decision-making about where to publishAssistance with h-index, Journal Impact Factor, Journal Citation Reports, Limited support is provided for Altmetrics (focusing mainly on Google Scholar Metrics and Google Scholar Citations) A libguide is available with extensive information about bibliometric tools and resources3.The library established a division for digital services in 2013 has been very successful in starting to build a digital collection/library of heritage material4. Since 2012 the library has radically expanded its instruction programmefor research students and researchers: Increased citation through Open Access publicationCopyright for theses and dissertationsFinding legislation Finding data/statisticsFree, open source reference managers Sharing large files
Steve is ready to add a little signature to his image -So, he finds this really cool jiggle that makes him stand out from the crowd
The signature elements,we feel make us stand out from the crowd, include: an Open Access publishing platform for online journals (called SUNJournals)We currently host 15 online journalsWe also host an open access system for the electronic management and publication of conference proceedings (called SUNConferences)And authors are subsidised for publishing in open access journals by means of an Open Access Publication Fund to which they can apply
Another signature element is a newly created libguide based on a workshop about Where to publish your researchWhat is unique about the workshop is that it covers The Science publication processAttributes of a good journalWhere to find author guidelinesTraditional vs Open AccessAnd information about the South African subsidy systemThe workshop is presented in partnership with the Research Office
Partnerships with research support units on campus is another strengthPartnerships have led to the creation of a Research Support Forum that meet once a term: Partners include: Language CentreResearch OfficePostgraduate and International OfficeCentre for Teaching and LearningIT Community Interaction.
A skateboarder is nothing without his skateboard. So here is Steve, with his board, and he is starting to show off his moves.
Similarly, we found a vehicle to show off our moves and we call it Library Research WeekWe presented the first one this yearSome of the activities were: Talks on finding peers and building networksA group discussion on the student-supervisor relationshipA research therapy session on research -elated stress/anxietyA social event where students gave us feedback on the library
Like Steve, we are trying new things and we want to improve all the time.
Research networking is something that we promote very activelyThis is done by making available SPACEFACILITIES (VIDEO CONF)SCIVAL TOOLSVIRTUAL NETWORKINGS SPACES (Researchgate, Mendeley, etc.)
One of the exciting things we’ve completed recently – is a libguide which covers the entire research process (1) description of the step (2) useful reading (3) services, tools and applications which support the stepThe guide focuses on resources which support each of the research stepsIt is not limited to Library resouces but includes services elsewhere on campusNot marketed yet, but hopefully useful to research students and certainly useful to librarians not so familiar which research practice.
Also exciting, is a visual survey – which we started during Library Research Weekit consists of a visual representation of the research cycle on a large pinboard So that students and staff can indicate where in the cycle they encounter obstacles. The aim is to improve services accordingly or to partner with other divisions who can address issues.
The naked truth is that we are lagging in some areas which we feel we can still improveFor instance: We do not have a research support charter/plan that speaks to the entire RS environmentWe feel that we can work on our service modelThere is also some ambiguity around the meaning/understanding of “research support” Some librarians regard research support as assisting researchers in finding information sources,While others regard it as specifically those “activities which are unique to researchers” such as measuring research impact, publication, author rights, etc.As yet, we do not make distinction between user groups (masters, phd, emerging researchers, established researcher, and supervisor are all in the same pool)We are just starting to think about research data supportThere is more that we can do to support researcher visibility and unique author identification
The similar services are: Thesis & dissertation repositoryResearch output repositoryDedicated space (Research Commons)Service provided primarily by faculty/subject/liaison librariansInformation literacy instruction exists for postgraduate and researchersResearch workshops address particular needs of postgraduates and researchersDistinctive services included: A senior management positionPublication of online journalsResearch data repositorySpecialised services for bibliometrics, researchdata support, GIS, scholarly communicationPartnership with other support units on campus is also fairly uncommon.
A final word from SteveTHANK YOU.
Getting on with it (research support at an academic library) presented at University of Johannesburg,5-11-2013
Getting on with it!
Research support services at
an academic library
SU Library and Information Service
5 November 2013
Driving forces for change
Abundant digital information
Increased understanding users
Evolving research methods
Image from: breakingthespidersweb.blogspot.com
New modes of research
• Different conceptual schools
• Well-known models include:
– Dr. Michael Gibbons’ New
Production of Knowledge Mode 2
– Drs. Etzkowitz and Leydesdorff
Triple Helix (1998)
• Research agenda set to transform SA into a knowledge society
that competes effectively in a global system (Kaniki 2012)
• Pertinent documents:
• 2010 report by Centre for Higher Education Transformation
• DHET Strategic Plan 2010-2015; DST Ten year innovation plan
• Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa
• South Africa’s National Research & Development Strategy
• National Plan for Higher Education in South Africa
• Goals include:
• Increased targets for high publication output rate
• Increased enrolment in science, engineering and technology
• Increased enrollment Masters and doctoral enrolments
• Increase number of ppermanent staff with doctoral degrees
Image from: http://www.sasportstours.co.za/international-inbound-tours
• Research Policy of Stellenbosch University
(2008) & Strategic Plan for the
Environment of the VR (Research) (2009)
• Commitment to National System of
Innovation and Government Research
• Specific goals : ratio between undergrad and
postgrad; increased through-put rate, half the
completion time of masters & doctoral, increased
numbers of PhDs and increased research output
RLC project (2009-2012)
• Robust discovery system which
allowed federated searching
• Dedicated and supported space for
research; an emerging researcher
• Increased professional & research
• Developing leadership
• Digitisation of unique collections
to improve accessibility and use by
the wider research community
SU Library Conceptual
Approach to Research
•Managing and preserving
research output and data
Image from: http://timoelliott.com/blog/2013/06/big-data-boasts-cartoon.html
•Publication in books
•Publication in traditional
•Open access publishing
•Publication in social media
Image from: http://scistarter.com/blog/
Online journal publishing
Research Performance Management
Division for Research Support
Information Services (Faculty Librarians)
• Senior librarian
• RLC Academy participant, 2010
• USA Intern 2011
• RLC Academy participant, 2010
• Six masters and doctoral students with
• Usage – 6000/8000 card
swipes per month
• “The new Research
Commons motivates you
to come here and DO
your work. Thank you!”
• Average number of enquiries per day 15
• Technical (computers, printing,
• General (Refworks, catalogue and
database searches, room bookings,
card access, coffee machine)
• Other: translation, technical editing of
thesis, reference techniques, etc.
• Research performance management
• Digital services
• Research workshops
• New Libguide for postgraduates
• Page dedicated to supporting
o Why collaborate
o Using the tools (SciVal Experts,
SciVal Spotlight, SciVal Strata
o Virtual Networking Spaces
Mendeley, Social Science
o Collaboration Spaces
• Research support charter
• Optimise service model
• Differentiation of service
PhD, masters, supervisors
• Data support
• Unique author identification
How do we compare?
Similar across all the
Distinctive to one / two
• Thesis & dissertation repository
• Dedicated senior management
• Research output repository
• Publication of online journals
• Dedicated space (Research Commons) • Research data repository
• Service provided primarily by
• Specialised services are provided for
bibliometrics, data support, GIS,
• Information literacy instruction exists • Partnerships exist with other research
for postgraduate and researchers
support units on campus
• Research workshops address
particular needs of postgraduates and
• Auckland, M. 2012. 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 (conducted
for RLUK) [Electronic]. Available:
http://www.rluk.ac.uk/files/RLUK%20Re-skilling.pdf [Accessed June
• Drummond, R., & Wartho, R. (2009). RIMS: The research impact
measurement service at the University of New South Wales.
Australian Academic & Research Libraries [Electronic], 40(2).
Available: http://www.ebscohost.com [2013, June 9]
• Hart, G., & Kleinveldt, L. 2011. The role of an academic library in
research: researchers' perspectives at a South African University of
Technology. South African Journal of Libraries & Information Science
[Electronic], 77(1). Available: http://www.ebscohost.com [Accessed
June 9, 2013]
• Hessels, L., & Van Lente H. 2008. Re-thinking new knowledge
production: A literature review and a research agenda. Research
Policy [Electronic], 37(4). Available: http://www.ebscohost.com
[Accessed June 9, 2013].
• Mamtora, J. 2013. Transforming library research services: towards a
collaborative partnership. Library Management [Electronic], 34(4/5).
Available: http:/www.emeraldinsight.com [Accessed June 9, 2013]
• Parker, R. 2012. What the library did next: strengthening our visibility in
research support [Electronic]. Unpublished paper delivered at the The
VALA 2012 16th Biennial Conference and Exhibition. Melbourne, Australia.
ening_our_visibility_in_research_support [Accessed June 9, 2013]
• Research Information Network & Research Libraries UK. 2011. The value of
libraries for research and researchers [Electronic]. London, Research
Information Network. Available at:
een_1.pdf [Accessed June 9, 2013].
• Richardson, J., Nolan-Brown, T., Loria, P., & Bradbury, S. 2012. Library
research support in Queensland. Australian Academic & Research Libraries
[Electronic], 43(4). Available at http://www.ebscohost.com [Accessed June
• Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service (SULIS). (2011).
Research Commons concept document. Unpublished.
• Stellenbosch University (SU). (2012). Strategic Plan for the Environment of
the VR (R). Unpublished.
• Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service (SULIS). (2010).
Strategic Directions 2010-2015. Unpublished.