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

Evernote

The Research Pile

Evernote is THE best app I have found in the last year. I was given the task of looking into it for 23 things city and to be honest wasn’t sure what use it would really be but now I have no idea what I did without it.

Evernote is a web application which is also available to download on to mobile devices, desktop PCs, lap tops and just about every computer. This means that you can literally use it anywhere and it will sync with on all your devices and the website.

 I was always starting a notebook then forgetting it and starting another then never looking at the notes anyway because I couldn’t read my writing or had to scan through so much that I couldn’t find what I was looking for but with evernote I am finally becoming a notetaker!

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I use Evernote to plan blogposts, take notes in meetings or lectures and save pictures or links. I use it both personally and professionally. I can start something on my laptop at home, work on it on my iPad on the train, edit it on my work PC, log on to any computer to check it via the web and share it via my phone if I want. At the Business Librarians Association Conference I was able to make notes, download all the pre-conference information and agenda and keep it all in one “notebook” on Evernote. When I came back to the office I could view these notes online and add links to them where needed. I can then share the notes with colleagues. For example these notes on a talk about doing a library video from the conference.

Why use it?

Even if you don’t have a mobile device to use it on or a lap top to download it to it can still transform your work.

* You can log on to the web version (http://www.evernote.com/) anywhere with an internet connection and you can share your notes so it is a great way of quickly creating a simple web page or putting a plan together.
* You can clip all or part of a webpage into a note by using the web clipping tool (this is easier to install at work on Firefox than on Internet Explorer).
This is a note I created linking to a clipping of this page.
* You can create checklists so you can tick the boxes to keep track of what you have done.
* You can tag notes so notes in different notebooks can all use the same tage and be found on a search.
* If you are using it on a mobile device you can add a location so you can see all notes made at that location by you.

Evernote is particularly useful for projects as this video shows:

How do I start?

Evernote have some getting started pages which take you through everything step by step.

Week 4 -Social Networking: Facebook #23thingscity

This is the first week where I’ve written one the “things” mine is the cool extra thing – Facebook. A week about social networking and Facebook is only a cool extra? I hear you ask. Well, it was felt we couldn’t ignore Facebook but we were also aware that some people have good reasons not to join and others wouldn’t want their work world venturing into their private/facebook world. So we have suggested people look at how other libraries have used Facebook. I am wondering what the thoughts will be …

Library and university presence on Facebook always makes me think back to Facebook’s early days and the theory that students didn’t want their studying life to intrude into their social space. They wanted to keep the two separate, logging on to VLEs for study and Facebook for fun. I am wondering how true this still is? 18 year old students today have been using Facebook/Bebo/Myspace for almost all their teenage years so are the divisions still there?

Interest in Facebook and formal university connections has existed since its beginning. Possibly because of its roots as a university communication network unlike MySpace and Bebo. Research from Nicole Ellison at Michigan State University in December 2007 suggested 79-95% of all undergraduates had Facebook accounts. I have no idea what today’s precentage would be but it probably is similar.

What I find interesting is why and how different people use Facebook. I use it a lot. I use it to keep in touch with friends and family near and far, I play scrabble on it (again with friends and family near and far), I arrange events with it and I have reconnected with friends from the past. I know people who have committed “facebook suicide” and I know people who have very strong privacy settings. I also know people who are far too open and seemingly live a virtual life at the expense of a real one. I think some of my friendships and connections have strengthened because of it but also sometimes you realise you have little in common with people beyond the setting you know them in.

I recently saw what can happen when people from different areas of your life collide on Facebook. I posted a link to a story connected with a close friend’s brother. I knew the whole story but the article didn’t tell it all (more here). Two friends ( ex- colleagues) then commented on it without much regard for the feelings of those involved. For a few hours I felt that I was in the crossfire of an argument with people feeling very hurt. I defended my friend and her brother but I didn’t remove what my other friends said because while I disagreed with them I do believe everybody’s entitled to an opinion. I hope my subsequent comments (if they read them properly) calmed things down properly and possibly informed them of the facts. It was a reminder that Facebook isn’t just a medium removed from real life but very much part of my life where people can reveal sides of themselves that make them seem a little less than I thought they were but also reminded me how strong my other friend is. This could have happened in a discussion in the pub but the record of the exchange remains on Facebook whereas in the pub nobody could keep going back over it.

Returning to the more professional aspects of Facebook. There was an article on the Guardian website which highlights the dificulties faced by universities in maintaining contact with students and controlling their image. Students can discuss courses, universities and even slag off the library’s fines. It seems that despite the early boundaries it is essential that all university libraries have a presence in social networks not least Facebook.

Looking through the pages I found for this week’s post it is clear students are interacting with the university presence on Facebook more than they used to. One post on the University of Sussex page shows the way that students are using Facebook to interact with their library:

Susex Facebook Post
Post from Sussex's Facebook

Previously this student would have had to find someone to complain about the heat but instead he could just post on the page. However the pages aren’t hugely popular. The British Library leads the field with 32,991 likes but Harvard lags well behind with a mere 110 (ironic as that is where Facebook started). Of the university libraries listed Brunel is the most popular with 1068 likes. It makes me wonder if the lack of interest is because students aren’t interested or if the pages aren’t interesting enough. Should we look at how companies use Facebook? I think we need a presence there because people look for us there but it needs to be interactive and not just because other people have done it.

Maybe Twitter is a more natural place for libraries to give out information? Orkney Libraries have only 837 likes on Facebook but on Twitter they have a big following of 3278. I can’t instantly explain why this is.

23 things City

23 Things city logo
23 Things City Logo

I’m part of the team at City who are launching and leading the 23  things programme for our colleagues. It’s all quite exciting and follows on / is inspired by the great work at Cambridge, Oxford and Warwick (plus many more).

In anticipation I have been looking at my blog and realising it is a bit random and ropey. I will admit that for the last few months my blogging activity has been largely focused on my jaw surgery blog. Strangely I managed to keep that up and still have plans for it so it is a finished product when I finally get signed off from surgeons and orthodontists. How come I can’t do the same for this blog. I will let you know if I work out an answer! I will however keep this up over the coming weeks.

I am also looking at my other social media accounts. Some I use a lot (Facebook/twitter), some I set up and never did anything (tumblr, flavors.me) and some I used a while ago but can’t remember logins for now (flickr). The flickr account is most annoying as I would probably use it but I can’t find my login for yahoo and although I know my hotmail address is the alternate email address the emails never arrive telling me what my login is. May I should mention the pitfalls of too many logins in one of my 23 things bits?

Anyway it is all very exciting. The hashtag for it is #23thingscity if you want to follow on Twitter.