Home 9 Full Text Articles 9 v32#5 Optimizing Library Services — Insights From a Professor and Researcher: How Librarians and Doctoral Education Leadership Can Partner to Provide Stronger Programs During the “New Normal”

v32#5 Optimizing Library Services — Insights From a Professor and Researcher: How Librarians and Doctoral Education Leadership Can Partner to Provide Stronger Programs During the “New Normal”

by | Dec 4, 2020 | 0 comments


By: Dr. Robin Throne, PhD  (Independent Scholar, USA) 

Column Editors:  Ms. Brittany Haynes  (Editorial Assistant, IGI Global) 

and Ms. Lindsay Wertman  (Managing Director, IGI Global)    www.igi-global.com

Column Editors’ Note:  This column features IGI Global contributing author Dr. Robin Throne, independent scholar-researcher and author/editor of the highly cited IGI Global publications Autoethnography and Heuristic Inquiry for Doctoral-Level Researchers: Emerging Research and Opportunities, Practice-Based and Practice-Led Research for Dissertation Development, and Indigenous Research of Land, Self, and Spirit.  She outlines how librarians and doctoral educators can collaborate and pave the way for new solutions in the post-pandemic future and through the challenging upcoming semester in the midst of the “new normal.” — BH & LW

Doctoral education, like all other aspects of higher education, continues in a rapid, decision-making mode as to the instructional delivery methods and modalities for the 2020-2021 academic year amid a global pandemic.  Whether the doctoral institution was previously solely on campus, fully online, or hybrid, the new academic year likely involves the expansion of digital library resource support in some manner to ensure quality levels of engagement and research productivity among doctoral scholars.  Ideally, doctoral faculty, research supervisors, leadership, and program/course developers are essential partners with library and information science (LIS) professionals to ensure quality levels for doctoral programs and the rigorous research doctoral scholars typically conduct. 

For some, the pandemic has served to bolster collaboration, partnership, and innovation between all members of the doctoral learning community to ensure doctoral scholars, especially those who may have previously relied on face-to-face library research and subsequently faced zero-contact policies, remain engaged within the digital and virtual resources necessary to accomplish rigorous doctoral research.  For others, the pandemic has simply firmed up collaboration, infrastructures, and emergent resource support that may have existed pre-pandemic but are now essential to a doctoral scholar’s success in the dissertation journey, capstone, or other forms of doctoral research.  In many cases, this collaboration has served to strengthen the doctoral learning community and resulted in innovative or new approaches in the service of digital academic library research and research support. 

Doctoral Collection Development, Library Research, and Scholarship Sourcing Instruction

Nothing can replace the LIS professional’s curation of academic databases for the university’s doctoral program (not to mention the dean or director’s eye on the collection budget).  This vetting of academic databases can be enhanced by collaboration with doctoral faculty to assure expertise in the current research necessary for doctoral research within the discipline.  This may include a review of the value of open access databases or other sources of research within the discipline.  When lean library budgets result from the pandemic and post-pandemic era, collaboration with doctoral faculty can bolster limited financial resources and be essential to vet these OA-specific resources to appropriately expand doctoral library offerings.  Doctoral program faculty can be an essential partner to LIS professionals to determine appropriate OA databases and OA journals relevant to specific disciplines.  As Tikam (2018) emphasized, open and available current research is necessary to the scholarly community but must also be carefully considered for inclusion in academic libraries due to the complex intellectual property considerations involved with digital access and fair use. 

Similarly, it often takes the triad instruction from LIS professionals, doctoral faculty, and the doctoral research supervisor as doctoral students evolve into more sophisticated users of digital access to current research sources.  Thus, another essential collaboration between LIS professionals and doctoral faculty can be the opportunities these faculty can bring to library instructional processes.  As doctoral students may rely on open sources easily attained from the internet, scholarship sourcing instruction is necessary to ensure doctoral scholars understand the distinctions between credible and reliable research versus non-peer-reviewed research.  As Tang and Zhang (2019) stressed, complex research support services is a new digital frontier for many universities and relies on the “wisdom/skills and expertise of librarians” (p. 22) and the collective expertise from LIS professionals in collaboration with doctoral faculty may expand this wisdom for the benefit of doctoral students. 

Thus, the collaboration between the doctoral program faculty and LIS professionals may enhance doctoral student instruction for not only scholarship sourcing but also research support that includes the many digital applications and tools used for citation management, data collection and analysis, and data transcription.  These digital tools are updated and discontinued on a regular basis, so it is also essential that the student users of these tools have direct communication or feedback mechanisms to the university owners of the digital access to these resources, whether they be classroom based or integrated within a university digital library space.  Nickels and Davis (2020) also recommended expanding collaboration in the doctoral learning community to include other university areas, such as the institutional review board (IRB), to enhance and synchronize research support workshops and other learning events or resources.  For example, as university libraries face the new post-pandemic normal, evaluation of the research instruction offered historically across various university departments may be necessary to eliminate overlapping instruction, the center for teaching and learning, student affairs, the IRB, or other departments may offer that the library also provides.  A doctoral faculty member may have digitized instruction for research skills, such as citation management or literature review sourcing strategies.  Therefore, a concerted collaborative effort to centralize these virtual offerings or webinars specific to various research skills, and eliminate duplication and bring economic efficiencies, may evolve into another valuable outcome of such essential collaborations between LIS professionals and doctoral faculty. 

Indexing Doctoral Faculty and Doctoral Scholars

A vibrant doctoral learning community highlights the expertise of not only the doctoral faculty across the institution, but also highlights the advancing expertise of doctoral scholars and the dissemination of their graduate research.  Again, with the new post-pandemic normal, virtual or digital opportunities for students may require a new definition for what constitutes the doctoral learning community across the university.  As these doctoral scholars move from the margins of the doctoral community to the center, LIS professionals can partner with doctoral faculty to ensure doctoral student research is highlighted in respective platforms. 

While many institutions offer digital calendars for the milestone of the dissertation or other research defense or presentation, others offer more expanded highlights to exhibit virtual conference presentations or promote other presentations and publications of both doctoral scholars and faculty across the institution.  When LIS professionals offer intentional collaboration with the doctoral program and doctoral faculty, doctoral scholars are better served by the ongoing dissemination of their graduate research throughout their time at the university. 

A collaboration that promotes the work of doctoral scholars and gives voice to academic successes of doctoral alumni can enhance not only the doctoral learning community but also elevate the doctoral researcher’s agency and academic identity throughout the doctoral program.  For example, Belikov and Kimmons (2019) reported technology-mediated scholarship has a direct influence on the development of academic identity and may enable scholars to more readily participate in public spheres when multiple avenues are presented.  Through the collaboration of LIS professionals, doctoral faculty, and leadership, these avenues may continue to strengthen a doctoral learning community and thereby advance doctoral scholar agency and academic identity. 

Institutional Dissertation Repositories

Doctoral scholars may have relied on the university LIS staff early on to gain advice and direction to locate recently published dissertations that were supervised by their doctoral research supervisor or committee members.  Thus, they and their supervisors may have directed them to these repositories so they may already have familiarity with sourcing techniques and strategies for dissertation repositories.  Yet, these experiences do not always prepare them for their own preparation for dissertation manuscript publication to the repository and the university’s policies on the requirements to do so, and thus, they may reach out for guidance from LIS staff if the university library is involved in this process. 

This post-defense phase of doctoral study is again an ideal segue into collaboration between the many members of the doctoral learning community to ensure the student is not lost in the gap between the academic program and library services or other areas involved in the dissemination of the dissertation manuscript and requirements for inclusion in the institutional repository.  The doctoral dissertation community may have already offered the congratulations to the new terminally degreed student; yet, the dissemination of the dissertation manuscript to the respective repository(ies) can bring another celebratory step in the transformation of the doctoral scholar who may or may not be versed at this phase in the entrance to the scholarly community. 

Thus, the opportunity for LIS professional instruction again arises as many doctoral scholars may comprehend further the distinctions between open access dissertation repositories and those that may be provided via a commercial database as well as the university’s expectations for the availability of doctoral research from its doctoral program graduates.  When face-to-face services are limited or reduced in the new normal, doctoral students may visit the virtual accessibility offered by LIS professionals if the research supervisor, doctoral faculty, or graduate program services previously accessed in person become restricted.  Again, intentional collaboration with dissertation research supervisors may enhance procedures for doctoral students in the important phase of dissertation manuscript publication to repositories.  This may again result in an intentional collaboration between library and faculty that enhances ongoing digital procedures for this important component of the doctoral scholar’s program culmination.  Many institutions have benefited over the past two decades from the disruptive technologies surrounding digital dissertation repositories including electronic approvals, gatekeeping access and distribution, and accessibility of university research products for students and alumni.  Accordingly, pandemic-facilitated reviews of existing repository procedures may reveal additional efficiencies for LIS professionals in collaboration with other staff and doctoral faculty.  


The doctoral learning community is comprised of many members at its center and all members have a key role in bringing doctoral scholars from the periphery of this community to the center.  Thus, a community constructed on a solid collaborative digital infrastructure between LIS professionals and other members of the doctoral community is essential, especially in times of great change or flux.  The value of LIS professionals’ partnerships with doctoral program leadership, doctoral faculty and research supervisors, peer students, and even alumni cannot be overstated and are necessary to the evolution of a doctoral scholar’s researcher agency to move from the margins of the community to the center to ensure persistence and completion of the terminal degree program.  Ideally, this enhanced agency and academic identity allows them to be prepared for ongoing research and post-doc engagement within the larger scholarly publishing community. 


Belikov, O. and Kimmons, R. M.  (2019).  Scholarly Identity in an Increasingly Open and Digitally Connected World.  In Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A., M. (Ed.), Advanced Methodologies and Technologies in Library Science, Information Management, and Scholarly Inquiry (pp. 579-588).  IGI Global.  http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-7659-4.ch046

Nickels, C. and Davis, H.  (2020).  Understanding researcher needs and raising the profile of library research support.  Insights, 33(1).  http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.493

Tang, Y. and Zhang, C.  (2019).  Development and Practice of Research Support Services in Peking University Library.  International Journal of Library and Information Services (IJLIS), 8(2), 22-39.  doi:10.4018/IJLIS.2019070102

Tikam, M.  (2018).  Connection, Collaboration, and Community: Creative Commons.  International Journal of Library and Information Services (IJLIS), 7(1), 30-43.  doi:10.4018/IJLIS.2018010103


American Library Association.  (2020).  Communities of practice.  Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/llama/communities. 

EBSCO Information Resources.  (2020).  EBSCO open dissertations.  Retrieved from https://www.ebsco.com/products/research-databases/ebsco-open-dissertations.

University of Chicago Library.  (2020).  Citation management: How to use citation managers such as EndNote and Zotero.  Retrieved from https://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/c.php?g=297307&p=1984557.  

University of Texas Arlington Libraries.  (2020).  Research data services.  Retrieved from https://libraries.uta.edu/research/scholcomm/data. 

Recommended Readings

Inyang, O. G.  (2022).  Mentoring: A tool for successful collaboration for library and information science (LIS) educators.  International Journal of Library and Information Services (IJLIS), 11(1), 1-12.  doi:10.4018/IJLIS.20220101.oa1

Kaushik, A., Kumar, A. and Biswas, P.  (2020).  Handbook of research on emerging trends and technologies in library and information science.  IGI Global.  doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-9825-1

Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A., M.  (2019).  Advanced methodologies and technologies in library science, Information Management, and scholarly inquiry.  IGI Global.  http://doi:10.4018/978-1-5225-7659-4

Management Association, I.  (2020).  Digital libraries and institutional Repositories: Breakthroughs in research and practice.  IGI Global.  http://doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-2463-3

Olszewski, C. A., Znamenak, K. A., Paoletta, T. M., Hansman, C. A., Selker, M. L., Coffman, K. A. and Pontikos, K. B.  (2020).  The development of a doctoral program CoP and its members.  International Journal of Adult Education and Technology (IJAET), 11(2), 1-13.  doi:10.4018/IJAET.2020040101

Shirazi, R.  (2018).  The doctoral dissertation and scholarly communication: Adapting to changing publication practices among graduate students.  College & Research Libraries News, 79(1).  https://doi.org/10.5860/crln.79.1.34  

Column Editors’ End Note:  Understanding the increased demand for open access resources during this time and to support the collaboration between researchers, librarians, and publishers, IGI Global offers their OA Fee Waiver Initiative.   Under this initiative, institutions that invest in any of IGI Global’s InfoSci-Databases (including InfoSci-Books, InfoSci-Journals, and the new InfoSci-Knowledge Solutions databases), will receive an additional source of OA funding to go toward subsidizing the OA article processing charges (APCs) and OA book processing charges (BPCs) for their students, faculty, and staff at that institution when their work is submitted and accepted under OA (following peer review) into an IGI Global journal or book.  Learn more about this initiative at https://bit.ly/33ZEt3e.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Share This