Reskilling for Research Data Management : a Workshop for Academic Librarians

Research Bar

Last Tuesday I went down to UWE in Bristol for a day all about Research Data Management (RDM) and academic librarians. It was a really interesting day on something which I personally hadn’t thought much about but luckily lots of other people have! To be fair one of the points made was that the majority of institutions feel we are working with other areas over and above RDM but it provides a real opportunity for librarians, especially those working in liaison roles.

One theme that did run through is that librarians are not necessarily the people leading on this (i.e. writing policy etc) but they can be instrumental in success and education of researchers because of the cross departmental nature of liaison work.

So first of all … what is Research Data and why are we thinking about it?

Research data is the data created when research is undertaken.

It is basically the next big area to be looked at in terms of research – how is it curated, how can it be accessed etc

The UWE day came out of a JISC project: Managing Research Data: a pilot study in Health and Life Sciences

The Presentations from the day are available here.

One presentation interested me greatly. Using the RLUK Reskilling for Report and mapping the gaps. It looked at the gaps librarians have in their skills and how to fill them. The gaps were identified as:

1. Ability to advise on preserving research outputs (49% essential in 2–‐5 years; 10% now)
2.Knowledge to advise on data management and curation, including ingest, discovery, access, dissemination, preservation, and portability (48% essential in 2–‐5 years; 16% now)
3.Knowledge to support researchers in complying with the various mandates of funders, including open access requirements (40% essential in 2–‐5 years; 16% now)
4.Knowledge to advise on potential data manipulation tools used in the discipline/ subject (34% essential in 2–‐5 years; 7% now)
5.Knowledge to advise on data mining (33% essential in 2–‐5 years; 3% now)
6.Knowledge to advocate, and advise on, the use of metadata (29% essential in 2–‐5 years; 10% now)
7.Ability to advise on the preservation of project records (24% essential in 2–‐5 years; 3% now )
8.Knowledge of sources of research funding to assist researchers to identify potential funders (21% essential in 2–‐5 years; 8% now)
9.Skills to develop metadata schema, and advise on discipline/subject standards and practices, for individual research projects (16% essential in 2–‐5 years; 2% now)

The list fills me with a bit of dread but I can see how useful it is and also how important it is for future proofing the role of liaison librarians.

Luckily the afternoon introduced some tools to educate staff on Research Data Management.

First up were the RDMRose team:  According to their site they say:


Developing supportive spaces for researcher communities #researchspaces

The Vitae day on spaces for researchers was a really interesting event. The morning was spent hearing about the Hive at Sussex. This is a dedicated researcher space and one of the things it helped me understand is that it isn’t so much the space itself but what you do with it and the people involved in it. The Hive is swipe card access (swipe card access seems to be very important for these researcher spaces as it gives control and exclusivity) but otherwise is a fairly simple space with sofas, computers and laptop spaces. On the surface it doesn’t seem like anything special but the community that has built up around it, in no small part due the partnership with Sage, seems like a vital part of the researcher’s experience.

Sussex is working in partnership with Sage (who apparently want to adopt more universities …). Sussex get funding for things like the Hive Scholars and Sage in return get the opportunity for feedback from researchers far richer than anything they could get from surveys and other traditional research methods.

The Hive scholars are three researcher’s who receive a bursary for 6 hours work a week. They all work on things to promote the hive, utilising social media to great effect. Something they said echoed with what we did at Cass – using a variety of methods that interlink to get maximum liaison opportunities. The scholars reported how the Hive enriched the research community by providing a hub which allowed informal social events as well as more formal events to take place. These events then meant people who may have been doing similar research in different departments met and exchanged ideas. It is easy for researchers to be silo-ed but the library is a centre for all of them and therefore a sensible place for these hubs to be located.

A couple of great ideas they had were Shut up and write! (re


searchers meet in a cafe, have a chat then concentrate for a set period of time and then have another break) and advice written on the glass walls by more experienced researchers for new ones at the welcome event including “Read A lot”.

2012-12-13 12.55.572012-12-13 12.56.15


In the afternoon session we had a talk by Dawn Duke, Researcher Training and Development Officer, about the SPLASH area at Surrey and writing boot camps they set up to encourage researchers. One was a full on boot camp with people telling people off for not working and things, this was for full time Phd students because they identified a big problem with procrastination and that it usually had a cause. The bootcamp helped people identify causes, suppo

Finally we heard from Fiona Colligan, Warwick Research Exchange about how Warwick has introduced somethin

g akin to online dating for researchers called Research Match this built on similar set ups to the

Hive but has broken into some groups which didn’t interact so much with the physical space for examrt each other and break through the procrastination problem in spaces that suited them so if they needed quiet that was available but if they wanted to collaborate that was available. Surrey also identified a few issues about completion so they organised a retreat for part-time and distance students. This was more relaxed than the bootcamp. One thing the library did was source a collection of thesis so students who may not have seen a UK thesis before were able to see what this was. Two senior academics also stayed at the retreat for the whole weekend (students stayed on site for the weekend).

ple people in the hard sciences who have their own networks in labs etc but they have signed up to research match in large numbers. This sort of innovation really seems to come out of physical spaces.

By the end of the day I really felt encouraged to think beyond physical spaces for ideas that the library can be central to in the support of the researchers but also confirmed that a physical space dedicated to researchers, ideally controlled by swipe card, is a worthwhile idea but needs to be part of something bigger in terms of collaboration and student involvement. A room with a sofa and computers labelled “researcher’s space” isn’t enough.

I have stroyfied some of the tweets from the day below:

  1. Vitae_SE_Hub
    Hearing about the Sussex Hive, Surrey’s SPLASH and

    the Warwick Research Exchange. #researchspace

  2. sussexreshive
    The hive scholars are presenting at the ‘developing supportive spaces for research communities’ event in the library today #researchspace
  3. sussexreshive
    Looking forward to sharing our experiences as scholars and hearing about how other libraries support researchers #researchspace
  4. melon_h
    Really interesting to here from Joanna Ball about collaboration with SAGE over the Hive #researchspace
  5. sussexreshive
    Now hearing from Patrick Brindle from SAGE about how they benefit from their relationship with the Hive. #researchspace
  6. sussexreshive
    Patrick brindle: open access could potentially change everything for publishers #researchspace
  7. melon_h
    Patrick Brindle from Sage now talking about what the Hive does for SAGE #researchspace
  8. robwannerton
    Really interesting analogy of 92 Election on where information is being drawn from to make decisions in publishing #researchspace
  9. sussexreshive
    Patrick Brindle: a more meaningful relationship with researchers through the hive that gives better insight than surveys #researchspace
  10. melon_h
    value of Hive means that Sage don’t rely on polls and get deeper relationship and understanding with library and researchers #researchspace
  11. melon_h
    Really interesting hearing the hive scholars discussing the importance of networking as part of he Hive #researchspace
  12. joanna_ball
    Welcome event in @sussexreshive : five things I wish I’d known in my first year as a doctoral student #researchspace
  13. joanna_ball
    Hive Scholars: Shut up and Write events provide opportunity for researchers at all levels to share experiences. #researchspace
  14. BrindlePatrick
    Really like Sussex Hive #researchspace idea of ‘Shut Up and Write!’ sessions for @phd students overcoming writer’s block.
  15. sussexreshive
    Took participants on tours over lunch, people seem inspired by hive as both space and community #researchspace
  16. sussexreshive
    Now hearing from SPLASH at university of surrey – they offer intensive writing courses for researchers #researchspace
  17. sussexreshive
    SPLASH publication boot camp – 1 week from notes to first draft with ‘drill sergeants’ stopping procrastination and advising #researchspace
  18. sussexreshive
    This meant that researchers could talk through problems as thy arose. Supporting creative process of writing #researchspace
  19. sussexreshive
    This is inspiring, I want to go to a publication boot camp! #researchspace
  20. sussexreshive
    SPLASH at Surrey also ran a thesis writing retreat over a weekend aimed at part timers struggling to complete #researchspace
  21. sussexreshive
    They made a collection of 75 theses available at the retreat to give people a better idea of completion – this is so useful #researchspace
  22. sussexreshive
    The retreat gave the feeling of being ‘locked up’, short 15 min training sessions, one on one advice and a social function #researchspace
  23. sussexreshive
    Procrastination is never just procrastination – underlying cause #researchspace
  24. sussexreshive
    There were 900 research led events in the research exchange at Warwick in 2011-2012 !!! #researchspace
  25. sussexreshive
    How can a space facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration amongst researchers? #researchspace
  26. sussexreshive
    Warwick run an online ‘research match’ service matching research interests for collaboration. Amazing. #researchspace
  27. sussexreshive
    This has allowed new research networks and collaborations to emerge #researchspace
  28. BrindlePatrick
    RT @sussexreshive: Warwick run an online ‘research match’ service matching research interests for collaboration. Amazing. #researchspace
  29. pretty_curious
    Effective use of PGR ambassadors also works well to create community and peer support #researchspace
  30. pretty_curious
    But possibly you need some dedicated space to provide focus for events and study space that appeals to researchers #researchspace
  31. sussexreshive
    Great day, loads to think about and lots of ideas for future events and collaborations #researchspace

Librarian Day in the Life 8 – Wednesday #libday8

Today was an odd day as I was working from home because I had a hospital appointment right in the middle of the day.

I quite like working from home. I wouldn’t want to do it every day as I like to see people but from time to time it can really get things done. I tend to get up about 7:30 and check my emails whilst drinking my first cup of tea and carry on working through the day – often well past 5! I can focus on projects especially preparation for presentations or reports. Unfortunately it isn’t something I get to do very often.

So today was spent replying to emails, tidying up some presentations and drafting some blog posts. I also read some of the readings for my Technology Enabled Academic Practice module which I need to post in the discussion group about tomorrow (I would have done it today but ran out of time and because the hospital had taken longer than expected I decided I should think about them tomorrow when my head is clearer).



Librarian Day in the Life project 7 – Monday #libday7

This is supposed to be about what I do all day as a librarian – it’s not all books you know! Today has been a bit of a catching up day as you might see from my lovely pie chart of my day:

It’s a bit odd seeing it like that as several if those tasks were spread out through the day. For example I’m constantly reading emails and responding to them in between other tasks. I’m very much a multitasker with several things going on so most of those things will have been done mixed up rather than in blocks of time.

I had one student query, there are more in term time, from a student asking how to login to science direct. They were having problems because they were trying to get into science direct off campus and not from one of our links. I quickly recorded a screen grab of how to log on and sent them a link as well as written instructions. This took 5 mins at most and if anyone else asks how to log on I have the clip for them.

I also talked to Tamise the Senior Information Assistant at Cass to try and sort out a Bloomberg query she had from a Phd student. Thanks to Tamis calling Bloomberg’s helpdesk the student was helped and I found out they can send you a transcript of your phone query!

I’ve been filling out my first appraisal in this role and it’s taking longer than I’d like because you have to link it to various strategic goals which means reading a strategy which may be out of date but I’ve been given some help from the cass library operations manager which has speeded it up.

I also have been wrestling with the university’s cms to get my subject pages up, again a process which takes much longer than it should but not for much longer …

I had a couple of meetings today too. The first was with my colleague Mandy who is the subject librarian for Arts and Isabelle from the Centre for Language Studies . We were talking about Mandy and my plans for pages for International Students on the library website. Isabelle was really enthusiastic and is going to help us out with a few links to language resources, in return she’ll use some of our content.

My second meeting was quick and with Neil our digital repository manager. He told me a bit about what he was doing and I talked about Cass and my role.

I’m one of the members of the 23things City team which is a week by week course we’re running for our colleagues to show them various social media tools. Today I looked at a few of the 23things participants’ blogs. A few have taken an extended break after week 5’s reflection but I’m sure they’ll catch up, hopefully they haven’t been put off by the amount of things in week 6! Two of the prezis from last week were absolutely laugh out loud funny: Prezi on City University library and Prezi on 23thingsCity

So that was my day. Tomorrow I am working late so will have a different type of day …







Library Day in the Life – day 2

Today I had my corporate induction at City which was really helpful in mixing with other new staff, seeing who’s who and understanding what the university is about. That took up all the morning but went quickly. This was probably helped by the fact that my lovely friend Jessica started working at City yesterday and got herself on the induction. When we hugged goodbye outside I thought the other people might think the induction had been a really good bonding exercise!

After lunch at the induction (very nice sandwiches and vegetable crisps) I did some emails and tried to work out what to do about the web pages as it appears I can edit some other ones which I will be involved with but not the key subject ones. The others I can edit are exciting Information Literacy ones which were produced before I got there but I will be working on.

I then went to Grays Inn Place for a Web Development Group meeting. Grays Inn Place is a beautiful Inn of Court and where City Law School is. We only met 3 weeks ago but the main point of this meeting was to do a card sorting exercise with the FAQ section of the library website. It was really good to look at how they can all fit together and also whether the FAQs were answered obviously on the front page of the website.

I’m really enjoying my new role and can’t wait to head back after my operation and really get stuck in.

How not to be a librarian (or possible customer services training video?)

This was one of the videos I found for my “Management for people who aren’t interested in management” presentation.

Should you become a Librarian?

Thanks to Sarah for re-tweeting this … so true and amusing!

Should you become librarian?

I must go and dust my books and ponder the names of my many cats …

College of Occupational Therapists

Last Wednesday I attended the first College of Occupational Therapists (COT) library day. This was a chance to meet 11 other librarians who support Occupational Therapy and hear about what the Occupational Therapists do to support our students.

It seemed we were all agreed that OT students are very rewarding to work with. They make use of the libraries and are grateful for the help you give.

It was also good to meet other librarians too, it’s so easy to get caught up in the day in day out part of the job but getting out and meeting people who are experiencing the same things and sharing ideas is invaluable. It also made me feel very fortunate to work for a university which is forward looking and supportive of libraries.

The major thing I hope will come out of the day is an ongoing peer group where we can share helpsheets, learning materials and other advice.

Part of the day was spent discussing Information Literacy and the best way of supporting it. One group discussed definitions of IL and agreed the CILIP definition from 2003 was the best:

Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner. (

My group discussed how we can help students to develop information literacy skills. We agreed one thing that is needed is for students to be able to get all their infomation in the same place, they don’t need to know the library does one thing while Student Services does another. I am proud to say at Brighton we do this already!

It was also agreed it needed to come in a variety of formats from hands on sessions to workbooks and online tutorials.

It was lovely to meet the team from the COT library. They are so helpful and the resources are great.

Google Wave

I was lucky enough to be invited to Google Wave back in October and have to say I didn’t really get its usefulness but that may have been because I only had my sister to wave at!

About a fortnight ago some colleagues were invited, suddenly it all makes sense! Katie, Sarah and I are planning the quiz for the staff party using it and it is excellent.

We can exchange files, pictures and chat. It is all recorded so we can review it and while we can chat live we can also post things when we are the only person waving.

Occasionally it is a bit slow but I can see the potential for collaborative working.

Welcome to the wonderful world of libraries …

These have been a turbulent few months at my library which have made me reflect a lot on my profession and my future as a librarian but in a week a new dawn is coming which we hope will bring calmer waters.

I love being a librarian. I believe libraries are the key to any successful university and should be valued but I do get frustrated sometimes that change can be stilted. I’m sure I’ll reflect on this more in the coming weeks but I have been a subject librarian at the University of Brighton for 7 1/2 years. In many ways I love the job, the contact with students, the involvement with courses and the chance to be innovative. However that brings me to my major frustration – I want to innovate and do with great success in my own subject areas but there are people who seem to want to block any innovation and change.

I don’t think this is a unique problem, I encounter it in conversations everywhere with other librarians but it is a huge problem for the profession.

Other professional careers have a clearly defined CPD requirement, an expectation of development and also clear possible career pathways so every job provides people with the skills to move on to the next rung of the career ladder. Why don’t we? Why do the naysayers often get to dictate what is going on?

I understand in many cases the jobs have changed a lot from the jobs people signed up for but how do we balance that with the needs of younger eager professionals who I see countlessly becoming demotivated and frustrated.

I feel at a stage where I need to move forward but when I apply for jobs I am told I don’t have the relevant experience, management often. I do have management experience from running my own business but because it isn’t from inside libraries  it appears it isn’t enough. How can I get the experience when my peers say adding management will take the job away from the one they applied to. My colleagues in assistant positions see that  I am getting frustrated and wonder if I can’t move on how will they?

I’ve always seen two potential avenues for my career, management or academia. I’ll continue plugging away at the management path, I’ll take courses and continue applying for jobs. I know I am a good manager, I have respect of colleagues, I try and listen, I can see the bigger picture and the experience I have from running my own business is unique.

The academia plan is now my real focus, I am resurrecting research ideas from previous bids which I was perhaps not experienced enough to progress. I’m networking and hoping that I will have two super mentors to help me. I’m going to look at the National Teaching Fellowship as my ultimate goal.

I am eligible for the National Teaching Fellowship because I was lucky enough to win an award for Teaching Excellence in 2005. (The only Information Services member of staff to do so – yet it is strangely unrecognised in the department).

So onwards and upwards! Hopefully this blog will record my adventures in the world on Brighton University libraries.

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