I am Michelle Walker, Research Support Librarian at Northumbria University. I have held this position since August 2013 but have been supporting researchers as a key part of my role since 2010. This short paper discusses the approach taken, the benefits and the logistics/challenges of developing such an event. When I say researcher, I mean anyone from a PGR or PhD student, or a research degree right up to professors. Also when I talk about Information Literacy I will refer to the researcher development framework (RDF) by Vitae. Rather than the Seven Pillars or the ANCIL framework, this is the model we use in promoting information literacy to researchers. It articulates the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of successful researchers.
Some Background Researcher development week (RDW) has run in November and March since 2010 and has grown from strength to strength during this time. It is a well known LIBRARY training event in the academic calendar and a good proportion of 1st year Post graduate researchers attend. Over this time the sessions have constantly evolved and been updated through our evaluation processes . Sessions have been retired and new ones born. The week comprises of workshops of 1.5 hours and bitesize briefings of 45mins. We run workshops on Searching for your Literature review, Measuring research performance, Keeping up to Date, research and collaboration with web tools and social media, Open Access and Copyright. And we make no assumptions about Information Literacy. Some research students have not grasped the basics of a search strategy, some are very experienced. Therefore each of our sessions has to confirm the basics, but then also challenge a researchers personal limits and push the attendees a stage further on their own personal journey.
The researcher development framework (RDF) by Vitae. The difficulty with researchers is that there are very few compulsory elements to touch base with researchers on their journey - Induction is very short at Northumbria. And the Viva, ethics training of which the Library does not deliver. Unlike Undergraduates there are levels you can map the competences of the seven pillars onto and interventions with assignments to measure understanding, lecturers to engage with. A researcher has a personal journey and each person requires different skills at different times – The RDF is applicable to a researcher at any stage of their research career. And that is why a holistic event was a good idea - we could then address all areas of the RDF in some shape or form and researchers could see more clearly how the RDF mapped onto the provision given by different internal departments. It also then had the potential to reach researchers at different stages of their careers by offering funding and data management and ‘traditional’ library ‘stuff’ an ECR might be interested in 1 workshop, but reading further try booking a couple more. Or a supervisor might direct their students to sessions on funding in readiness for a career in research. Previously they might have thought the RDW - is not for me and deleted the email. We purposely linked the RDF domains in both the publicity and the presentations. All our training from the Library maps to the RDF and we demonstrate this to attendees. We can see clear linkages to certain areas - but not all. And there are areas in which our internal colleagues in Research and Business Service (RBS) and HR have expertise
So we decided to try something new... Something we had not done before And the Researcher Development Event was born Previously we were joined up in that we, as departments, tried to avoid training clashes and we did have some discussions about overlap of content but we had not formally worked together as departments to create an event. We decided to aim at this event at Early career researchers (Post Phds) and staff undertaking research. PGRs could attend but previous feedback had suggested the timings of November and March in term time meant a low attendance by staff and it was this audience which was core to all of us. We settled on June/July – after the deadline for marking but before congregations, so staff should generally be around and be available.
This was a week long event The Library ran workshops and briefings - just 1 of each RBS ran 4 different workshops of 1.5 hours on various funding streams, hint and tips on bid writing and using research professional We asked the university lead on research data management to run a briefing to highlight important areas to researchers. This was also offered as a 2 day workshop in the university main research programme.
So now rather than just a Library event, it was a University research event. And we were creating a holistic view and approach to researcher development We brought together all aspects of the research lifecycle from starting your research, getting funding, accumulating and managing information, storing data, analysing your findings and Communicating and publishing your work. And as from the remembering the RDF in previous slides and the highlighted sections we now touched on virtually every area in the space of a week and we were (hopefully) catering for researchers at all levels and stages. The departments also physically came together - we created a showcase. An event during the week with stands and demonstrations (and lunch) for staff and researchers to attend to meet key internal contacts such as the Library, IT services, RBS and the Graduate School. We also invited externals such as Adept scientific (Endnote) and Ethos at the British Library.Adept stayed for the day and also ran a drop in session for researchers in a computer lab.
Benefits The benefits of all working together to achieve a goal For ourselves in the library and colleagues in HR, Graduate schools and RBS: Through working together and having to understand each others materials, we benefitted by a better understanding of each others work This has gone onto create knowledge and a better referral system for researchers to find the ‘right’ people We have continued our collaboration activities and created 2 new jointly run sessions with RBS called ‘introduction to research for staff’ and ‘Introduction to research for ECRs’ And because we are working on the next event we are creating a collaborative environment in which the staff learn together and from each other.
The benefits for Staff and PGR students - they made connections. Internal departments make connections The physicality of being in the same room and just talking rather than having a meeting and an agenda was invaluable for staff and researchers. You could see people asking questions and having some of it answered but then being guided to another stand and saying ‘Rob can help you with the other part of your query’ and researchers seeing the linkages. Researchers networked with each other across departments and it was good to see a little bit of community amongst generally quite isolated groups.
Suggestions/feedback The externals gathered great feedback and we got good feedback from the attendees at the Showcase ‘We found it invaluable to talk to researchers face to face’ ‘I came away with all my questions about Endnote answered and I found out about library databases I might use’ From the briefings and workshops: ‘clarity on challenging themes’ & ‘useful tips and sites and helpful handouts’ Everyone agreed it was time well spent.
Logistics / Challenges As with all things trying to get people to try a new idea in the middle of an academic year, which is not on their workplan (but does meet a corporate strategy target) is like herding cats Everyone could see it was a good idea – it just took time to finally get everyone in a position to say ‘YES’
Another challenge was with such a long lead in time getting the principles agreed, it left very little time or money to create brand new sparkling content, so rather than give up, we reused and repeated, cloned what we already had. It would still be beneficial to those who had not been able to attend previously The showcase was brand new, the Q&As on Endnote and Open Access were new. The data management briefing and the RBS workshops reused and repackaged content from a much longer workshops. The library sessions were updated but essentially repeated from March We had wanted some content on the work/life balance for researchers - again holistic - time management, stress management which the graduate school had run during the year, but with a limited budget we could not pay for the external trainers to come back.
Logistically the library had processes and systems already in place for dealing with publicity, bookings and mangement of the RDW. All this production line and timescales swung into action to manage the event.
You have to have motivation and invest in such an event. This was my marathon and I ran every step doggedly.
Those moments when you are banging your head against a brick wall. We lost rooms - unscheduled building works in the library meant we had to relocate to another venue. Luckily the publicity had not gone out. We had to push for rooms to be altogether in another building and I had to view these to ensure we had computer labs and flat teaching rooms as we required. We lost funding for the lunch - suddenly that money was not available anymore and I went begging for some funds. I had advertised lunch - there needed to be lunch! This is ‘the wall’ for marathon runners
Diplomacy and lots of it. Its not necessarily the people you are working with closely to achieve the outcome. Sometimes priorities change which sometimes cause challenges. We were ultra careful that although we suggested it, organised a good portion of it, that we were still working collaboratively and consulted our colleagues. We were in this for the long haul not short term glory. So we even adjusted the order of the departments in different places on publicity so the Library was not always first! And the obvious - keeping everyone in the loop in emails and meetings. Even if you have deadlines - eg publicity approvals – prior agreement to assign responsibility to a group or a quick email and a date by which feedback is needed, so that people in different areas have the chance to take part.
Moving forwards Tips These tips are all quite obvious really Have a project team with a leader (hard sometimes when its cross departmental) which meets regularly ( again hard across departments) Know that there will be slippage Plan Plan Plan (and have a backup plan!) Agree a budget and ensure the funds are there Share the tasks and play to strengths e.g the library already had the systems set up to handle the bookings, so we expanded to cover the RDE too. Be ready to think on your feet!
Now we are building on what we achieved last year - Following feedback and evaluation, this year we are looking at 3 days not 5 as there was tail off of attendance. Trying to house everything together in one big space to encourage footfall with the showcase and to create a more conference / collaborative atmosphere.
Photo credits Slide 1 Rings and hand https://www.flickr.com/photos/kugelfisch/2433989050/in/photolist-4H5Q9s-een8SV-nHJ2Z1-5X5cX-oMjv9R-e3tizh-de82pW-9ZTJ8Y-e3k5RE-3iF55i-5buFDo-dKMZHe-dbovqg-JDmt9-faZ1Qe-8AmMKM-dsbZbw-yBhBG-bgnMND-tptUP-8AkR4j-9giFd5-ebm5bb-tPvea-tKdbw-ksigwV-gsDdb-f4e4mU-75DCMK-4E29xq-rrreHC-aDxgzf-aDtoCr-kjkbzV-ty9rG-QGQK3-cmexkG-hPzVSN-dEmRkg-MRaZG-aWdtbK-bjCRDb-oZKXFK-4smKof-dNzbea-rtBwUz-an1aUJ-fAzZbq-axsQ8N-7RYp4f Slide 2 Researcher Development Week leaflet, Northumbria University Slide 3 Researcher Development Framework, Vitae https://www.vitae.ac.uk/researchers-professional-development/about-the-vitae-researcher-development-framework Slide 4 Snails http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fd/Escargot_trick.jpg Slide 5 Researcher Development Event leaflet, Northumbria University Slide 6 Holistic https://www.flickr.com/photos/lyntally/5007651053/ Slide 7 Working together http://fc00.deviantart.net/fs27/f/2008/133/e/b/Working_Together_by_raour_amma_tiger.jpg Slide 8 Circuits /networks http://pixabay.com/en/board-electronics-computer-453758/ Slide 9 Suggestion box https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2201/2089058279_b6de5a7f87_o.jpg Slide 10 Herd of cats http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/Herd_of_Cats.jpg Slide 11 repetition of cows https://www.flickr.com/photos/scarequotes/2761208449/# Slide 12 Production line http://www.vads.ac.uk/results.php?cmd=search&words=NAP_4_3_13_19&mode=boolean&submit=search Slide 13 Marathon ladies https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5475/9489276613_dc72a37288_o.jpg Slide 14 Doh! http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e1/Doh.jpg Slide 15 United nations http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Barack_Obama_chairs_a_United_Nations_Security_Council_meeting.jpg Slide 16 Felt tips http://fc03.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/140/a/f/Felt_Tips_by_mikemcnary.jpg Slide 17 Boy and toys https://www.flickr.com/photos/10926798@N00/3148979242/ Slide 18 Thank you https://www.flickr.com/photos/vernhart/1574355240/
One event to bring them all – collaboration with internal training providers to bring a holistic approach to the information literacy needs of researchers - Michelle Walker
One event to bring them all
collaboration with internal training providers to bring a holistic
approach to the information literacy needs of researchers