A day in the life…..

17.11.15 WHELF Research Support “A Day in the Life” : Activities of Research Support Librarians in Wales

As part of Action Aim 2.2.2 of the WHELF Action Plan to identify scope for future research support roles, Stephen Smith (Academic Services Librarian, Aberystwyth University) invited WHELF members to provide case studies of their current roles. The following is a summary of current activities undertaken by research support librarians:

Respondents:  Nicola Dowson (Open University); Susan Glen (Swansea University) – supplemented by comments at the WHELF Research Meeting in Swansea, 6 November.

Job Titles / Post Organisation

Job titles of librarians carrying out research support tasks included the following:

  • Research Librarian
  • Research Support Librarian
  • Data Librarian

Many of these specific roles had been newly created over the past couple of years, sometimes being an individual post but in other cases being combined with the role of Subject Librarian or Metadata Librarian. The volume of work associated with research support had grown significantly in recent years at all responding organizations and was continuing to increase.

Core Activities

Central activities for research support librarians included the following:

  • Open Access
  • Institutional Repository management and support
  • Research Data Management
  • RAE/REF Support (often working with the Research Office or Planning Dept)
  • Promotion and Advocacy for all of the above

Open Access roles include:

  • Policy development – for publications, theses, data
  • Communication regarding HEFC and RCUK requirements
  • Advice regarding licenses and embargoes
  • RCUK block grant management
  • HEFC/RCUK Guidelines compliance monitoring and reporting
  • Guidance on best places to publish using Green OA when no Gold OA funds available

Repository Management usually included the provision of regular reports to staff and senior management in the form of:

  • Newsletters
  • Management statistics

Additional roles identified were as follows:

Research funding support:

  • Assistance with inclusion of publication charges in grant applications
  • Advice and guidance on developing Data Management Plans (DMPs) and web applications

In-House Open Access Journals:

  • Advice and guidance on copyright licensing, preservation and deposit policies


  • Advocacy and training for academics, researchers and postgraduates
  • Sometimes working in partnership with university Training Sections
  • Products including: Web of Science, Journal Citation Reports, Scopus, Scival, [InCites], ORCID, Researcher ID

CRIS  (Current Research Information Systems):

  • Working with Research Offices, IT/Computing Support and web developers to improve and resolve issues with CRIS/ Repository links and synchronization

Social Media:

  • Providing training for staff, researchers and postgraduates on using social media for increasing impact and citations#

Bibliographic Reference Management:

  • Programs supported including EndNote, EndNote Web, RefWorks

Copyright Clearance and Assignment guidance

Digital Literacy

Promotion / Advocacy methods utilised for all the above activities include: 

  • Talks / Presentations
  • Blogs, Twitter, Social Media
  • Internet / Intranet
  • Drop-in sessions
  • Podcasts
  • Focus Groups

Promotion activities were often shared with Subject Librarians.


Workloads were reported to be continually increasing at all sites, leading to urgent requirements for prioritization of research support tasks and consideration of replacing face-to-face support with web-based “How to” and FAQ guidance.