Supporting social science research key findings


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  • Thanks so much for coming today. This session is a chance for me to share the outcomes of discussions with some early career researchers and some UK librarians on challenges in all stages of the social science research enterprise.Much will be relevant to other areas outside the social sciences but we focused primarily on Soc Science as SAGE has developed a growing advocacy role for the Social Sciences and their importance to the health of Society and we are naturally concerned to ensure obstacles to research are known and maybe even removed. Personally, this project has developed form my own interest in understanding changing research patterns and the evolving role of the library.So, the aim overall, is to identify which one or two of these challenges to tackle in order to find a solution working alone or with other stakeholers.Can I ask how many librarians we have here? It’d be great to get some feedback from you on the issues I’ll be highlighting.It would be good if this is as interactive as possible, so I’ll check for questions at various stages and then speed up if needed later on to finish on time.
  • 56% felt strongly need to improve search and browse skills training 46% strongly on other two highlightedOne researcher decried a well-known source’s anthropology search as ‘horrific’, and oneof the librarians warned that some experienced researchers, who are supervising early careers, havenarrowed their discovery methods worryingly, for instance relying on one archive source too heavily.There was a feeling that there is a ‘real danger of fossilization’. Researchers do not always fully understand the parameters of what is available tothem via different tools and even the newest library discovery tools can be too blunt a tool.There are gaps in search and browse skills at many levels, with a clear need to improve low levels of take-up of training. It was noted that once a complicated search to deliver highly-targeted results has been performed, it can be saved as an RSS feed. RSS can also aggregate all searches and other inputs into a ‘one-stop shop’.
  • Libraries with devolved budgets can find it ‘nightmarish’ to purchase cross-disciplinaryresearch, and often do not manage it. For these institutions there is a real fear that, as well as beingunable to purchase core material, it will make future OA funding models impossible to implement.Young researchers can have far greater grasp on the economics and detail of open access funding than some vice chancellors.Any other observations or comments?
  • 48% felt strongly- Greater attendance of librarians at academic department meetings and other research related fora to better understand researcher needs and concernsLibrarians want to understand the expectations researchers have of how the library can support them and discover how aware researchers are of the range of tools and material available. And to deal with misunderstandings or myths.
  • 48% felt strongly - Institutions require institutional-level data reporting, beyond usage statistics. E.g. institutional author numbers, usage patterns of institutionally generated research, and effects of purchased material on researchSingle ID just nice to have Some of this was promised by Microsoft academic search yesterday and other tools will emerge but time is an issue so librarians want to be provided with this info by publishers to help them demonstrate value to senrmngmnt not have to find more time to number crunch themselves.All of the librarians present agreed that it would be useful to benchmark their use of resources againsteach other to help contextualize usage. However, there was acknowledgement that there are sensitivitiesin all quarters in relation to the information on title or company usage existing in the public domain.There was agreement that more data is needed to provide a complete picture of resource provisionand value. Useful ‘non-usage’ information examples discussed by the participants included:■ publishers supplying institutions with information on number of published authors and mapping of these authors onto purchased material■ publishers relating content purchased or available to courses taughtThe librarians present welcomed the provision of additional information, but were conscious of thepressures on time resulting from processing this extra data. They would value publisher assistancein supplying data that is not currently available to them or would be too time consuming to gather andassess themselves.
  • This is about how research is happening.Interesting to note differences in disciplines. English = closed, private, solitary.Anthropology = open, share, we need to be open.46% agreed strongly with first twoLast 42% disagreed. It was very clear from the comments made by the researchers that interacting with contributorsand others in a network outside of peer-reviewed journals, for instance via blogs, can be hugelyintellectually stimulating and is a key part of some research processes. Twitter is used to enable publicengagement with research. All acknowledged that one of the huge academic challenges is that sources such as video and audioare not peer reviewed. Helpful quality filters are absent. All present agreed that peer review is stilla critical process. In some disciplines it was acknowledged that peer review partially happensin public with more and more researchers ‘polishing’ their work on blogs via the comments.A feeling that special collections, in many cases, need to be promoted more effectively beyond niche research circles.There was a suggestion that libraries could generate revenue from their special collections of primarysource material.
  • 60% felt strongly (biggest majority in whole survey) that greater understanding of OA needed by researchers at all levels48% felt strongly that seniors needed to understand it betterMisperceptions about OA research whereby ‘open’ was confused with ‘free’. The mistaken perception is that the research must be low quality if it is ‘all free’. Only a small number of researchers understand the mechanics behindfunding and payment to enable the opening up of research, and it was felt that it is easy forpublishers and librarians to forget this.None of the institutions represented was confident that mechanisms for funding open access publishingwere in place, and a range of budgetary and functional problems within universities were discussedat length, including what some participants saw as a lack of understanding of OA fundingmodels at vice-chancellor level. Currently the mandate to make research accessible can be fulfilled via institutional repositories, so a strongimpetus is not felt to exist.Open access is a real problem right now for publishers and librarians, especially as the current transitional phase incurs the heaviest costs for institutions. They are still funding subscriptions, while needing to fund OA research, and are busy setting up institutional repositories. When the current economic climate is factored in, OA becomes a hard sell for librarians and a difficult concept for university senior managers who may hold the purse strings but are removed from the detail.
  • 60% felt strongly - There is a wide variance in the sophistication of reading list support tools and practices in use44% felt strongly Uni IT depts could work together moreMany reading list challenges exist, for instance reading lists being created without the library’sknowledge or in some cases courses being introduced and inadequately communicated.Some reading lists have large amounts of out-ofprint material as core reading. For some courses,these older books are still key texts. Although often unpopular, it is necessary for libraries to put inplace processes and systems to combat some of these problems, and in some institutions they arealready working well.There are online tools for creating reading lists that feed into the VLE which can more easily generatearticle links. There is a huge variance in how libraries are using these tools, with some librariesexploring and using tools heavily, and others still far off.
  • Supporting social science research key findings

    1. 1. Supporting effective communication andworkflows in social science research:summary of a group discussionCharleston Conference Session, Nov 2011Bernie Folan Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    2. 2. What’s happened and why Conversations with various librarians about challenges they face Librarians explaining greater need for librarians and researchers to talk, with publishers listening Informal roundtable discussion chaired by SAGE, facilitated by the RIN (Research Information Network), librarians and social science early career researchers (6-8 of each) Article published in Serials July 2011 summarising key finding Survey developed to test response to the challenges uncovered Charleston Feedback Session Nov 11 UKSG Feedback Session Apr 2012 Next... Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    3. 3. Problems in the discovery, use and creation ofresearch materialKey Findings A need to combat reliance on narrow discovery methods and misunderstanding of search tools by some experienced researchers who are supervising doctoral students. Browsing outside discipline is essential, but it is now a predominantly search culture. A need to improve adoption of search and browse skills training amongst all researchers and appoint institutional advocates. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    4. 4. Problems in the discovery, use and creationof research material (continued) Greater transparency is needed on service inclusion and overlap between widely-used services and gateways (for both researchers and librarians). Library branding needs greater prominence on publisher platforms to highlight library value Education on OA funding mechanics is needed at senior level in universities. Institutions with devolved budgeting need improved systems to purchase cross-disciplinary material as well as fund OA submissions. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    5. 5. What librarians and researchers need from eachother to improve research workflows A need for greater attendance of librarians at departmental subject meetings and other fora to better understand researcher needs and concerns. A need to explain the mechanics of content purchasing and its challenges to researchers. Explanation of senior financial managers on agreed common themes (eg. finer detail of usage analysis) is required to avoid misunderstandings. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    6. 6. How can librarians and publishers work togetherto demonstrate value and impact of researchmaterial on their institutional strategic goals Institutions require institutional-level data reporting, beyond usage statistics, (e.g. author numbers, usage patterns of institutionally generated research, and effects of purchased material on research) Institutions can be poor at knowing and valuing what they have, for example PhD numbers. It is essential, though challenging, for authors to demonstrate the impact of their research beyond academia. There is a need for a single robust and universal academic ID and profile site. Numerous initiatives in existence, but there needs to be one solution that can be tied into academic appraisal and help showcase institutional output. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    7. 7. Resources beyond scholarly articles andchapters for research and output Researchers are using a wide variety of alternative research resources, from blogs and Twitter to Listserves. Libraries could optimize use and generate more revenue from their special collections and archives and market them better beyond niche research circles. To differing degrees, and dependent on discipline, researchers are contributing beyond journal articles and book chapters. Mostly they are observing a careful balance between openness and traditional publishing. Some librarians now get ALL of their professional information from blogs and Twitter. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    8. 8. Institutional mechanisms for funding openaccess in the humanities and social science Increased lobbying of Research Councils and other bodies required to make funding available and access to it transparent in Social Sciences Improved education about OA funding is needed at senior levels to ensure facilities are in place. Greater education around what OA means and how it works is needed by researchers at all levels – many are unsure and are confusing ‘open’ with ‘free’. Greater efforts to persuade ‘big names’ to publish in newer OA outlets are essential to move things along in favour of OA as a valid concept in the humanities and social sciences. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    9. 9. The library’s evolving role in providingteaching material alongside research content Teaching materials should be available within the institutional network not at an outside link. E-textbooks and e-books are still too expensive and DRM issues stand in the way of success. There is a wide variance in the sophistication of reading list support tools and practices in use. Reading list compilation provides many challenges. Good practice needs to be more widespread with systems put in place to combat bad practice. Higher education IT departments are often in institutional silos. They could work together to find solutions to challenges with more creation and sharing of open source programming solutions. Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC
    10. 10. Have your say....SURVEY ARTICLE (PDF) FolanSAGE, LondonEmail: @berniefolanLinkedIn: Los Angeles | London | New Delhi Singapore | Washington DC