WHELF/GW4 event: Information and digital literacies & the researcher

CILIP ILA warm welcome greeted the attendees who had chosen to spend their “Black Friday” at the WHELF/GW4 event “Information Literacy and the Researcher” held at Cardiff University on Fri 28th November 2014. The event was the first collaborative venture between WHELF and GW4 and a well organized programme had attracted delegates not just from within the WHELF/GW4 areas but also Edinburgh, Durham, Leicester, Oxford to name a few and so provided a great networking opportunity.

The keynote address and workshop “Librarians and researchers: it takes two to tango” was provided by Moira Bent (Faculty Liaison Librarian and National Teaching Fellow, Newcastle University). As a practitioner and researcher Moira spoke engagingly and informatively on the topic of engaging with researchers, understanding who and what they are, how they work and using that information to find where the librarian can add value. The term “support” is commonly used in job descriptions and to describe the role that the librarian has in the research process. But what is support for research? Moira discussed the definition of support: “to bear the weight from below”, “to act in a secondary or subordinate role”. This terminology can mean that librarians immediately place themselves in a secondary position and could limit what they are able to achieve. Does support imply that we are outside the process, underpinning, underneath, invisibl? It is time to re-evaluate our identity and our relationship with researchers and this can be done in the first instance by changing the terminology we use to facilitating, engaging and collaborating, omit the “support” term from our job title and be the “Research Librarian”.

Moira asked for thoughts from attendees on how we would describe research. Definitions included the gathering, analysing and disseminating of information; stretching the boundaries of human knowledge; exploring on a personal level what is new to the individual; creating new knowledge from grey areas. Research can be all about the theory or all about the data depending on the discipline. Research is grounded in a discipline but is becoming more multi/inter/transdisciplinary. It is a process that has to be validated by peers and made meaningful by an external audience. Researcher themselves are all at different stages depending on age, experience, motivation, where they are located in workplace and personal preferences (how they like to learn, ) and because of these individual differences information literacy has a personal landscape to the researcher.

Moira Bent IL landscape

Moira’s presentation concluded with a breakout session and each group focussed on a set topic discussing what is good practice in that topic area, what do you aspire to do, what’s a good idea and what stops you? We then chose two key points and shared this information with all attendees providing an opportunity to share best practice. Some of the key points that emerged were the difficulty of agreeing what a research collection is because it means different things to different people; how to engage with our researchers and departments that may be difficult to reach, communication, marketing and branding are key in this respect, make sure that researchers know the resource they are using has been provided by the Library; embedding librarians in the department.

The day was complemented by two TeachMeet sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I had not previously attended a TeachMeet and wasn’t sure what to expect but I found it was a really useful way to get a lot of information in a short time in a lively and interesting way. Teach Meet sessions were run on Getting published: training for research staff and PG students at Bangor University (Beth Hall); Raising your research profile (Judith Hegenbarth); Supporting researchers via open access at Cardiff (Samantha Jones); Educating the researcher in data management (Kellie Snow); Assessed research assistantships for the Humanities (Alison Harvey); Concept and mind mapping (Joe Nicholls); Social media for engagement in research (Lis Parcell); International open access week at Bangor and Aberystwyth (Amy Staniforth); Finding your h-index in Web of Science (Steve Smith); The making of a library skills training programme for academic staff (Mari Ann Hilliar).

WHELF GW4 event

The afternoon session began with a presentation from Kate Bradbury (Senior Consultant Research Support, Cardiff University), “Research counts: helping our researchers prepare for the next REF”. Kate focussed on 3 areas: Open Access, Bibliometrics including altmetrics and ORCID and other IDs. In regard to open access Kate discussed the importance encouraging our researchers to checking the integrity of a journal before publishing with them and to be wary of scams and predatory publishers. A journal’s validity can be verified through abstracting and indexing databases along with checking the editorial board and editors. Kate also suggested taking a look at the list compiled by Jeffrey Beal (Librarian, University of Denver) of potential predatory publishers which also lists some criteria. HEFCE issued a metrics call for evidence document and the comments are now available online; 57% were sceptical about the use of further metrics in the REF process but there is a an increased interest in bibliometrics data. Some of the bibliometric questions librarians can expect from researchers and need to be prepared for include: How to find data, subject differences, use and mis-use of data, interpretation of data, best source of citation data, best indicators to use. Altmetrics can also be useful tool for research evaluation as they demonstrate but this is not a resource to be used in isolation as not all researchers use social media. Our researchers should also be encouraged to use ORCID to create their researcher ID.

The final presentation of the day was delivered by Susan Glen and Sam Oakley (Subject Librarians, Swansea University) “What we learnt from our researchers: research workshops at Swansea University”. This practical presentation detailed their experience of running one-day workshops for their researchers on topics such as open access, university website, repository, researcher identity, research funding, social media. The events have been valued by the attending researchers who appreciated the opportunity to learn and network with other researchers. The importance of being flexible was stressed by Susan and Sam and this was incorporated into sessions by providing some interactive, some workshop and some “pitches” to accommodate the different learning styles of researchers. There is never an ideal time that suits all to run the workshops so the one-day workshops were complemented with short sessions repeated through the year. Delivery of the sessions is quite staff intensive and as the research landscape is always changing the workshop needs to be adapted each time.

The event was sponsored by CILIP Cymru Wales, CILIP Information Literacy Group and Cardiff University Libraries.

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