by Hilary M. Davis (Associate Head, Collection Management, NCSU Libraries) <[email protected]>
“In the past few years we have seen the fusion of two trends: adoption of social media and collaboration between researchers. As a result, researchers are looking for Web-based tools that can support their workflow and the collaboration with their peers. How do you think social research collaboration is changing the academic landscape, and how can the library be involved?”
What it means to be aware, current, and relevant within the academic landscape is vastly changed by social research collaboration. Online social media tools not only change the pace and mode of research collaboration, but they also change the currency of research. These Web-based tools make it possible to take research from the bench to publication in record time and to dissolve geographic and temporal boundaries between collaborators. Through online social collaboration, the academic research enterprise has the capacity to be more efficient by sharing and repurposing datasets through venues such as DataOne and Dryad. Through crowdsourced research such as citizen science, the work of academic researchers can be made more relevant to society by engaging with the public. Community-building social media services such as Twitter and blogs, where scientists openly offer criticism and inquiry far faster and with more uptake than in traditional scholarly communication routes (e.g., the arsenic life case), is allowing research itself to become more transparent and part of the public consciousness.
The adoption of social media to support collaborative research provides major opportunities for libraries to become more integral partners in the process of research. The recently-published ARL brief on 21st Century Collections positions the academic research library as part of the research process: “Rather than focusing on acquiring the products of scholarship, the library is now an engaged agent supporting and embedded within the processes of scholarship.” I think this is more of a vision statement and a goal than a current reality. On the whole, most academic research libraries are comfortable and well-practiced in providing services and collections focused on the end products of scholarship. With some exceptions like clinical and medical librarianship and some special libraries, we are not as comfortable with building library services and collections that are embedded within the processes of scholarship.
Nonetheless, research libraries cannot afford to ignore the call to support the work necessary to facilitate data-driven, team-based research, learning, and teaching. To do so, we need to build a more complete picture of impact so that we know how we can do our jobs better and make our customers more successful in their work. Likewise, I think partnering is absolutely key for finding sustainable, realistic ways to support the full spectrum of research and collaboration. Web-based social media tools and services that support collaborative research are good frameworks for libraries to more deeply focus on collecting and valuing engagement with our customers. The influence of the altmetrics movement on the academic community remains to be seen; however, the ability to see the impact of researcher contributions across a diversity of formats and venues in real time through tools such as Total-Impact.org is powerful. Pair altmetrics with services such as Mendeley and Mendeley Institutional Edition, and libraries have a whole new set of opportunities to engage and support research.
Taking the goal of collecting and valuing engagement further, libraries are well-positioned to showcase and advocate for the contributions and achievements of science students, teachers, staff, and researchers. Showcasing and advocacy can be as simple as leveraging social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to broadcast the great things about our research communities and the issues that they care about. Social media tools can also double as a way to eavesdrop to learn more about your target community’s behavior, needs, and expectations. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library’s Southern Folklife Collection on Facebook engages with current and potential customers by way of showcasing videos of musical performances. Facebook’s social metrics tools make it easy to measure impact and engagement with users who show interest in the Southern Folklife Collection on Facebook. The North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries’ Engineering Twitter stream illustrates a very effective way to combine library promotion and showcasing of the NCSU engineering community achievements. These are lightweight approaches that have high impact at minimal cost and are key examples of how libraries can be involved in the process of research.
Physical spaces are just as important in supporting the life cycle of learning and social engagement of researchers. Library spaces are much more than just places to study and retrieve collections — we can use the library to showcase achievements of science students, teachers, staff, and researchers by hosting seminars, and redesigning spaces to support team/group work. To support research teams across geographic boundaries, libraries can offer web conferencing services such as Skype and Adobe Connect alongside loanable Web cameras and headsets.
Libraries can also be key players in supporting research data discovery and access. Discovery of and access to data for statistical and computational science research is a huge challenge, especially for students and new faculty. To mitigate this challenge, libraries can support data citation services that make it easier to discover research data (e.g., DataCite and EZID), author identification services which invoke automatic linking between authors and their outputs (e.g., ORCID), and expand data collection networks by acquiring more datasets or tapping into data repository networks such as DataOne and DataBib. Additionally, partnering with organizations like Dryad will enable libraries to help lead the way in making better connections between researchers’ publicly-available datasets and their corresponding articles.
To get to the point where researchers and students in the sciences think of the library as a partner in the research process, and not just managers of the end products of research, we need to make smart, and probably difficult, decisions about reprioritizing our work to focus more on engagement through and with online social research collaboration tools to help libraries find better ways to understand the impact of research and the impact of libraries on research.
2012 Charleston Conference Scholarship Winner in Press Release on September 18, 2012
Swets was pleased to announce Hilary Davis, Associate Head of Collection Management, North Carolina State University (NCSU) Libraries, as the winner of the Swets 2012 Charleston Annual Conference Scholarship. Hilary received $1,000 to attend the conference in November.
Davis, who delivered two talks at the conference based on her work at the NCSU Libraries, stood out among the many candidates for her essay on social research collaboration and the academic landscape. “I am deeply honored to have been selected for the 2012 Swets Scholarship Award to attend the Charleston Conference,” she said. “The support that Swets provides to attend this event is a testament to the collaborative nature of the publishing industry and libraries. We are all in this together!”
“It was clear that Hilary has a great deal of passion and experience in digital scholarship and communication,” said judge Christine Stamison, Senior Customer Relations Manager at Swets. “We are honored to award her the scholarship so that she can share her research and continue her development at the Charleston Annual Conference.”
Other members of the judging panel included Katina Straunch, Head of Collection Development for the College of Charleston, and Chuck Hamaker, Associate University Librarian for Collections and Technical Services at the University of North Carolina.
Swets is the global market leader in managing professional information. We develop and deliver innovating services that enable the use of knowledge to its full extent. From more than twenty offices around the world, we actively serve clients and publishers in over 160 countries. Our active role in today’s complex information marketplace has led E-Content Magazine to award us regularly in their annual “100 Companies that Matter Most in the Digital Content Industry.” We are the only information agent to be ISO 9001:2008 certified on a global basis, which pays testament to our stringent operation and client service procedures.
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