Research Mentorship: Qualities from Doctoral Supervision

by Selinda Berg
Leddy Library, University of Windsor

During the 2017 Librarians Research Institute, I talked about the uniqueness of doing my doctoral research as compared to the other research I have engaged in. While there are many differences, the defining difference was the firm guidance, clear supervision, and frank, but respectful, honesty of my supervisors. As I come to the final stages of my degree I recognize how incredibly unique and special that relationship is. The experience raises questions about how, within the profession, we can build strong, honest, and trusting relationships that will provide true guidance through the research process?

In conversations about research mentorship in libraries, the interactions are often limited to isolated conversations about: potential methods, options for good readings, tips for interpreting results, offers for proofreading, and of course, sentiments of emotional support to persevere. While these are all important, it is less common to see experienced librarian-researchers providing consistent guidance to their colleagues along the entire research process—from inception of an idea to publication—where each step is accompanied with nudging, pushing, challenging, critiquing, and inspiring.

Working with amazing supervisors is definitely a key part of that privilege of completing a doctoral degree. I reflect on the qualities of my supervisors that I appreciated the most and made the biggest difference:
1. Competence and confidence: The expertise, wisdom, and skills that my advisors shared with me were an essential component of what made my experience so positive. I knew that their insights emerged from their own extensive experiences and their deep understanding of the research process. They presented their viewpoints with a confidence that allowed me to trust that their advice was moving me in the right direction.
2. Firm honesty: There were times that their guidance cut deep. There were times when I thought I had a good idea or I was on the right track when I really wasn’t. Being told that I was wrong did sting. I had wasted precious time and even more, I was embarrassed. However, because of my trust in their words and their ability to explain to me the reasoning, I took it in and I changed course. They were not afraid of the sting their honest insights produced because they did not let me suffer- rather, they walked me through those difficult moments with honesty and strength.
3. Mutual respect: From the onset, I respected the work of my supervisors, but over the course of my degree, our mutual respect grew. As often as they provided me with much needed guidance, they also listened with deep respect to what I had to offer. They recognized and validated that I brought something to the table. I was not required to take every piece of guidance that they offered “as is”; They were willing to be swayed by my insights and my understandings, my voice was respected within the conversations.
4. Unselfish motivation: I recognize that my supervisors are paid to supervise. However, I always felt like their priority was helping me. They were not in this supervisory role to further their own careers, to make themselves look good, or so that they could use my work to get ahead. They always made me feel like this process was truly about me and they were there to guide me through so I truly could reach my potential.

I reflect on these qualities with the goal of considering how it is that we can instill more of these attributes across our own research culture. Not an easy task, but so worthwhile. On twitter, I follow Hugh Kearns, a researcher and writer, who also provides inspiration and motivation to researchers, especially doctoral students. He often reminds the supervisors who follow his feed that PhD supervision is not only about developing the research, but about also developing the researcher. While I am very thankful for the quality of research that I produced under the supervision of my advisors, I am also proud that I feel better equipped to take on the role of researcher.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Five years of LARK, or how birds of the feather flock together

Dr Suzana Sukovic, Executive Director Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice, Health Education and Training Institute (HETI)

Australian LARK (Library Applied Research Kollektive), a grass-roots group connecting professionals and academics with interest in practice-based research, celebrated its fifth birthday last month. Having a professional network of people with similar interests may sound quite straightforward, but there are days when I think it’s a miracle that baby LARK reached childhood by the human measure and, probably, teenage years by measure of longevity of a grass-root group.

With LARK, bird jokes and metaphors are inevitable. We sometimes talk about being birds of the feather. Since C-EBLIP belongs to the same bird species, I’d like to share LARK’s story, a bit of parental pride, and some insights from our five-years long flight.

In 2011, I made an unusual job change and, after many years of working at universities, I started working in an independent high school. In 2012, I initiated a research project at work and thought that some collaboration would go a long way in boosting the study. I also felt a strange sense of isolation in this new sector although connections with information worlds in which I worked before seemed obvious. So, I decided to call professionals from different corners of the library, information, and educational sectors to come to an informal meeting called Let’s talk about research. We gathered after work at St.Vincent’s College (Sydney), had a nibble and a glass of wine, talked about research interests, and had a good time. People were enthusiastic about establishing a network and thought we needed to put in place some structures to support our connections. That’s how LARK was born. My library colleagues at St.Vincent’s College and I decided about the name, I started the blog and a mailing list and invited people to join us. The mailing list had a decent number of members pretty quickly. We were ready to fly.

But, we didn’t. Any baby needs a fair bit of attention. Baby LARK needed attention and lots of patience. It kept quiet and slept a lot. Like most first-time parents, I had some misplaced expectations based on examples I saw (Humanist Discussion Group being the prime example). Where I expected chatter and collaboration, the LARK list offered a deafening silence. My messages to the list felt like sending letters to myself. So, I’d let my daily life take over and LARK slide far to the periphery of my (and everyone else’s) attention. But, whenever that happened, there was someone sending a private message saying how much they enjoyed posts about research. Or, my interpretation of the enthusiasm at the first meeting as one-off occurrence would be corrected by people who’d get in touch to ask when we were meeting next.

So, LARK met again. And again. Some people continued from the first meeting (notably, Alycia Bailey), others joined in for a short or long period of time. Some have become regular companions (shout out to Janet Chelliah and Bhuva Narayan from the University of Technology, Sydney – UTS). We usually had around 15, sometimes 20 people in engaging meetings after work, always followed by dinner. Our colleagues were getting in touch afterwards to say how they’d like to join, but couldn’t on that occasion. During the first couple of years, I expected people would either come in bigger numbers or stop coming altogether. Neither happened. Academics, librarians from university, public, school and special libraries, information professionals, and teachers kept getting together. The gatherings had never been large, but the group thrived nevertheless. With ongoing activities and a need for some support, we joined ALIA (Australian Library and Information Association) in December 2013.

What also happened over time was that people were getting in touch from various parts of Australia to say how they had research interests, but felt isolated and disconnected from research networks. This is how we initiated regular online events in 2016. Our first online event included presenters from Australia and New Zealand. Like face-to-face meetings, online events attracted a solid audience, but not a huge following. They became, however, an important connection point. The most recent webinar in 2017 was also an opportunity to reach out to other professional groups who talked to us about their research experiences reinforcing a sense of interprofessional connection.

LARK’s online presence grew in other ways too. The collaboratively written blog has attracted a fair bit of attention over time. Particularly important were contributions from the ALIA Research Advisory Committee. C-EBLIP’s own Virginia Wilson has become a contributor, too. According to the latest statistics, LARK’s blog attracted over 79200 visits from around the world, well over 700 visits per post.

During a period of a couple of years, Fiona McDonald, Liz Walkley Hall, and I ran the first Antipodean LIS reading group on Twitter (#EBLIPRG). We connected with professional groups overseas and even had a session facilitated from Ireland. LARK had an important role in making #EBLIPRG visible.

In May 2017, LARK branched out from online spaces and Sydney to South Australia. Liz Walkley Hall had already led an active research group at Flinders University and decided to initiate LARK group in South Australia to connect with colleagues from other organisations. The group had an initial meeting and has plans for future events.

Post by post, event by event, LARK has become very visible in the Australian LIS landscape. In September this year we celebrated LARK’s fifth birthday in a research style by organising a seminar titled Holy Evidence! Research in information practice. Yet again, it was a relatively small gathering, but one for which some people traveled significant distances. It was also pleasing that LARK was able for the first time to offer a grant to a LIS student to attend the seminar (congratulations to Crystal Campbell, a student at UTS).

In the first half of the day, we considered the Australian research landscape and heard from a variety of experienced researchers and novices from different sectors and even industries. In the second part of the day, we had a workshop to discuss how to develop a research project from idea to reality, and how to publish research findings. A feeling of connection and genuine engagement in the room was well supported by feedback forms. People greatly enjoyed not only substantial learning, but also each other’s company. It was particularly rewarding to see that people who came from afar were not disappointed. A sense of a connected research community was palpable in the air.

During the seminar, I looked back at the five years of LARK and thought of many dispersed people who are prepared to put effort in making research a reality in LIS practice. Establishing connections between interested people is essential, especially when they don’t even see themselves as researchers. For research you only need curiosity and tenacity; everything else can be learnt, said David Schmidt at the LARK’s seminar when he talked about research capacity building in health in rural and remote areas. With a network of curious tenacious people, learning is much more likely to happen, and it’s also much more enjoyable. A network also makes practice-based research visible.

Another issue is the formation of research bubbles along academic and professional, hierarchical and sector-based divisions. Distinctions between different types of research and interests are real, but often grossly exaggerated. When it comes to research, there are more connections than non-negotiable barriers. With LARK’s participants and presenters from various LIS sectors and allied fields, it has become evident that we have a lot in common when it comes to sharing research experiences and concerns. Groups like LARK open the lines of conversation and help us pop the bubbles.

In the spirit of interprofessional learning, I looked up what biology says on how birds of the feather flock together. They are known for changing direction, possibly to confuse predators. The change can be led by any bird in the flock and others will follow. How birds of a feather flock together…they are democratic claims an article in the Daily Mail interpreting a research study. Without looking into the authenticity of this interpretation, I like the idea that any bird can take a leadership position when it picks up important signals from its place in the environment. I like to believe that this is how a loosely organised group like LARK thrives. People come to the group for a short or long period of time, but they keep up the flight and influence the direction. At the end of the seminar, a few young librarians from various parts of Australia offered their help and expressed their willingness to be more involved with LARK. After a very rewarding research celebration, these offers were a real highlight for me. They are saying to me that LARK will keep flying. For all of us, especially new LARKs ready to fly, it is crucial to have the flock.

C-EBLIP members and readers are invited to join the LARK mailing list, like us on Facebook, use our collection of resources on Diigo and write about their work for the blog. All links are available from the LARK blog.

For more information about the LARK seminar “Holy Evidence! Research in information practice”, see program and this blog post.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Supporting Librarians in Contract Appointments

by Elizabeth Stregger, Systems Librarian, Mount Allison University
@estregger on Twitter

Last week was Fair Employment Week in Canada. CAUT and many faculty unions held events and made statements to try to improve conditions for contract and part-time academic workers. My career as a librarian has included contract appointments at University of Manitoba, University of Saskatchewan, and Mount Allison University. The changes in roles and institutions, as well as the terms of the contracts themselves, have created challenges in getting started as a researcher. In this blog post, I want to share some of the things you can do at the individual, library, and institutional level to support your colleagues working under limited-term contracts.

Be open to telling us about your own research journey. I ask my new colleagues about their research as soon as possible. This gives me some context for the research culture at the library. I’ve particularly appreciated it when colleagues have taken a bit more time to tell me about where they got started or about contributions that are less tied to a particular institution or role.

Ask us if we’re interested in collaborating on short-term projects. Using the C-EBLIP Brain-Work post on collaboration by Shannon Lucky and Carolyn Hoessler has helped me to be clear about my goals, skills, and bandwidth in these conversations. I’ve appreciated colleagues who have held research meetings at lunch time or after work to minimize the impact on my day-to-day work. When one of my collaborations led to a conference presentation, a supportive colleague reduced the financial barrier of attending by sharing the cost of driving and an Airbnb.

At the library level, give us the opportunity to do some new work and take part in planning discussions. The background reading and environmental scans in planning discussions are good first steps in the research process. Being part of these conversations makes it easier to think of small projects that are aligned with what the library is trying to accomplish. Being part of a pilot project and a new initiative has greatly expanded my professional knowledge.

Include us in the research culture and campus groups. At the University of Manitoba, librarians on contracts are included in the New Archivists and Librarians Group (NALG), which helped create a sense of community and provided a forum for discussion. At the University of Saskatchewan, I was able to attend C-EBLIP research workshops and the exceptional C-EBLIP Fall Symposium. These events are inspiring windows into practical evidence-based research. At Mount Allison University, I was invited to both university and union sponsored new faculty orientation events. I also participated in the MAFA Research and Creativity Fair highlighting Contract Academic Staff research. These activities have extended my network well beyond the library.

Advocate for research time and professional expense accounts in the collective agreement. Having research days and a professional expense account as a full-time contract librarian at Mount Allison University means that I finally have the same support as my colleagues. I can attend the conferences most relevant to my current interests. I can take the time to concentrate on scholarly activity without being preoccupied with my next meeting or the grocery list.

In closing, I’d like to thank all the librarians, faculty members, and unions that support librarians in contract appointments. And an even bigger thank you to my personal mentors and colleagues who have provided guidance and feedback in my career as a librarian so far.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

A brief and biased comparison of two live polling tools: Poll Everywhere and Kahoot

By Joanna Hare
Run Run Shaw Library, City University of Hong Kong

For this post, I would like compare the live-polling tools Kahoot ( and Poll Everywhere ( The comparison is based on my experience of using the tools in information literacy workshops to gather formal and informal evidence of learning. I must stress that I have used these for very specific purposes, and have not fully explored the entire functionality of both tools – hence my ‘brief and biased’ comparison!

The Basics
Both Poll Everywhere and Kahoot are online platforms that allow you to create interactive activities such as quizzes and surveys that can be conducted live in a classroom setting. Users can respond using any web-enabled device. Both tools allow you to create a number of different activities, including quizzes, discussions and surveys. Each tool offers a different selection of unique activities, which will be discussed in more detail below.

Kahoot is entirely free with no limitations, while Poll Everywhere has a limited free account with a number of different subscription options. The free version of Poll Everywhere is limited to only 25 users per poll. The minimum class size I teach is around 30 students, and more typically the classes sizes are 50+, meaning the free version isn’t suitable for me. The free account does not support grading.

I have paid to subscribe to Poll Everywhere to get access to the full platform, and their pricing model makes it really easy to sign up for just one month or one semester – they don’t lock you into any annoying contracts. With a paid account you also get excellent personalised customer service (no trawling the online forums to troubleshoot whatever problem you might be having).

Winner: Kahoot (but I find the paid version of Poll Everywhere worthwhile!)

Types of Activity
Kahoot has four types of activity: quizzes, discussions, surveys and ‘jumbles’, where users have to put items in the correct order (see Figure 1). All the activities require you to define pre-determined answers – Kahoot does not support open ended questions.

Poll Everywhere provides almost two dozen different options, including a number of activities supporting open-ended questions and the input of free text. (see Figure 2).

Figure 1: Activity options in Kahoot

Figure 2: Activity options in Poll Everywhere

Both platforms allow you to add images or videos either for the purpose of instruction or just to make your presentation a little more visually exciting.

Winner: Poll Everywhere – I am yet to explore all the options but I hope to try some more next semester!

If you spend half a minute to visit both the the Poll Everywhere and Kahoot homepages, you will immediately see that Kahoot has a more colourful, fun interface (see Figure 3), whereas Poll Everywhere has a more ‘austere’ look (see Figure 4).

Kahoot is the more “fun” platform of the two with it’s casual use of language, inclusion of tense “game show” music and bright graphics. It does have one annoying feature that cannot be turned off: before students can participate they are required to choose a nickname which then appears on screen – which provides the opportunity for students to choose naughty names. Kahoot does allows you to ‘kick out’ and identify cheeky participants, but in my experience the problem is not so much naughty names but students having too much fun choosing their nicknames! However, I don’t begrudge a room full of giggling undergraduates, and it increases the likelihood that students are paying attention to the activity and participating.

Figure 3: A preview of a Kahoot Quiz demonstrating the bright and colourful interface.

Figure 4: The more ‘austere’ interface of Poll Everywhere.

A word on the “game show” music: you can of course just turn the volume off, which I usually do, but I have had one professor ask me to turn it up because she likes the way it grabs the students attention!

Winner: Kahoot

Ease of use
Both tools take some getting used to if you have never used live polling before, and with either platform I would recommend practicing your quizzes or polls a few times with yourself as a participant.

If I were to recommend one tool over the other for ease of use if would have to be Kahoot based on its overall simplicity. The sheer number of options and granularity in creating live polls in Poll Everywhere may seem a little overwhelming to someone who has never created a live poll before. Starting with Kahoot you will learn the basics of live polling, and from there you can ‘graduate’ to Poll Everywhere if you are ready for the more advanced features.

Winner: Kahoot

Which live-polling team reigns supreme?

In my experience: it depends!

My personal preference is Poll Everywhere thanks to the variety of activities, level of control over granular details of your activities and their excellent customer service. I feel paying for an account (and the fact that it is easy to ‘turn off’ your subscription) is good value for money. The free version of Poll Everywhere might work for you if you have small class sizes and no need to grade incoming answers.

I do find Kahoot works quite well with undergraduate students, especially in an English as Second Language (ESL) context. If you looking for something light-hearted and easy to use, and you have no need to for students to answer open-ended questions, Kahoot might be the tool for you.

What I can say in conclusion is that if you haven’t already tried these tools (or other live-polling platforms) I would highly recommend you give them a go. I have received positive feedback from both students and professors, and they have improved my ability to do both informal and formal assessment even in a short time frame. Ultimately I have found live polling tools energise my teaching, making instruction more engaging for students – and more fun for me!

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Working together to join Software Carpentry in New England

Lora Leligdon, Dartmouth College Library
Kristin Lee, Tisch Library, Tufts University
Joshua Dull, Yale University Library

It seems that great collaborative efforts come together through a magical combination of timing, a common problem, and a group of enthusiastic people. This has definitely been the case with the creation of the New England Software Carpentry Library Consortium (affectionately known as NESCLiC), where seven New England institutions of higher ed are joining forces to provide researchers with the basic coding and data toolkit that will help them get the most out of their projects.

If you are unfamiliar with the Software Carpentry (SC) family of organizations, its basic mission is to “[teach] researchers the computing skills they need to get more done in less time and with less pain” ( Membership in the SC organization has many advantages, like faster access to instructor training (so that we can teach the workshops), access to the rest of the community and curricula, and the ability to use the widely-recognized Software Carpentry branding to promote workshops that we teach on our own campuses. There are trained SC instructors all over the world and those instructors specialized in different aspects of the curriculum. This could mean that they know a particular coding language very well or that they have special insight into how those skills can translate into a certain discipline. This is a dynamic and growing community.

The NESCLiC members decided to join as a consortium for both practical and philosophical reasons. SC offers tiers of membership, and as a group we were able to join at the top level (Gold). This allows the seven schools to get 15 people trained as instructors. We have members from different areas of academic librarianship and technology including the digital humanities, statistics and HPC, STEM and medical libraries, and data librarians. We are all familiar with aspects of the SC curriculum at different levels, and intend to work together to make sure that everyone is supported to learn new skills, apply the rusty ones, and provide the best workshops to our communities. Self-organized workshops are free with our membership, so we will have the opportunity put what we learn into action.

Our first group activity is to attend a SC workshop as learners. This workshop, led by James Adams from Dartmouth, will give us the chance to see what it is like to be a workshop participant – which is essential as we learn how to provide this instruction. It will also let us get to know each other beyond our Slack team so that we can all put a face and a voice together with an avatar and email address. Creating connections within our diverse group will also allow us to broaden our professional networks and think about new approaches to research and coding. Once our 15 members are trained as SC instructors, we hope to not only provide training, resources, and support for our institutions, but also to other new England institutions that may not have the needed resources or staff.

I realize that a lot of this post is about possibilities. This first year is a pilot for us; not just to see how Software Carpentry works in our schools but also to find ways for information and technology professionals in New England to combine our collective resources and skills to provide programming that might be impossible if we all act alone. In this world of greater demands, smaller budgets, and broader interdisciplinary and inter-university research connections, this kind of consortium seems like a great way to meet the needs of our communities.

The NESCLiC organizing team includes:
Andrew Creamer, Scientific Data Management Librarian, Brown University
Lora Leligdon, Physical Sciences Librarian, Dartmouth College
Julie Goldman, Countway Research Data Services Librarian, Harvard University
Sarah Oelker, Science Librarian, Mount Holyoke College
Kristin Lee, Research Data Librarian, Tufts University
Thea Atwood, Data Services Librarian, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Joshua Dull, Research Data Support Specialist, Yale University

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Collective Agreements and Academic Librarian Research Opportunities

By Kathleen Reed, Assessment and Data Librarian
Vice President, VIU Faculty Association
Vancouver Island University

In this post, I’d like to consider the influence of the collective agreement on librarian research, and in particular, the choice to work in an environment in which research is/isn’t a job requirement. Experienced academic librarians may be familiar with collective agreements, but as a Baby Librarian, I had no clue that these documents governed whether or not I’d have to do research, and the support (or lack thereof) I’d receive to do so. This wasn’t something that was talked about where I did my MLIS, and yet it has significant influence on the lives of academic librarians. Thus, here’s a simplified, brief run-down of how collective agreements influence librarian research.

Librarians at academic institutions have a variety of academic statuses, which are articulated by the Academic Librarian Status wiki:


  1. Librarians with full faculty status and tenure = librarians have titles denoting their rank (e.g., associate professor or associate librarian); are likely required to publish; have seats on faculty committees; and are considered to be members of the university’s faculty with accompanying benefits.
  2. Librarians with faculty or academic status but no tenure = librarians likely have titles denoting their rank; have option to contribute to the profession but may not be required to; may have seats on faculty committees; and have renewable contracts with opportunities for continuing appointments.
  3. College and University Libraries with a mix of professional statuses = institutions that have tenure-track and non-tenure track librarians or faculty and non-faculty librarians, or a combination of each.
  4. Librarians without faculty or academic status = librarians have staff positions without the protections or privileges accorded to faculty or librarians with academic status.
  5. Librarians without faculty or academic status but with status similar to tenure = librarians may have formal ranks; may have option to contribute to the profession but are not required to; do not serve on faculty committees nor receive other faculty benefits; have renewable contracts with opportunities for continuing appointments.”

Many librarians that are required to do research work in rank and tenure systems, in which they are given a probationary appointment, a few years to prove themselves, and then go before a tenure committee which decides whether to grant them a permanent job (i.e. tenure) or not. Once tenured, one’s job is secured with the only way to remove someone being cause or special circumstances (ex. financial exigency). If tenure isn’t granted, one would most likely be looking for a new job. There is a mandate and pressure to undertake and publish research as part of one’s job, but there is also time and support allotted for this activity in collective agreements.

Where I work, faculty (which includes librarians) have academic status that’s similar to being tenured, but with official no rank and tenure system, and no requirement to do research. Technically, we’re a “special purpose teaching university” but in reality lots of faculty undertake research and scholarly activity off the side of our desks with limited support in terms of money and release available.

When I began to understand the tenure system, early in my career I mourned that I didn’t end up at an institution that had it; I’d have time and financial help to undertake research, which I currently lack. Six years in to my job, however, I’m now thankful that I didn’t end up at a place with rank and tenure. Research is done on a shoestring budget off the side of my desk, but I do research because I’ve got an insatiable curiosity about the world – not because I have to. It’s also led to deep collaboration with colleagues; there is no competition for first authorship or rank. Additionally, I have the freedom to pursue research opportunities that don’t relate directly to the LIS field – helpful at a time I’m finding myself being drawn back to my pre-LIS academic roots. Finally, I don’t feel the need to publish. More and more of my findings are ending up in grey literature – reports that never get published, but are helpful to the people or organizations with which I’m working at the time.

If you’re a librarian that wants to do research as part of your job, you should look carefully at the Collective Agreement in place at the institution for which you’re considering working. Whether research is required or not, and how much financial support and time is given are good places to start. Ending up at a place where research isn’t a requirement doesn’t mean one can’t undertake it; there are simply different positives and negatives that need to be considered.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Academic social networking sites – boon or bane of institutions?

by Nicole Eva
University of Lethbridge
Alberta, Canada

At our University, we are struggling with getting researchers to understand the value of the institutional repository. They think that putting their output in or ResearchGate is equivalent to putting it into the IR. It’s not, and the reasons are many: as public, for-profit entities these sites are likely to start monetizing their services (as was seen this spring with; there is no guarantee that these for-profit entities will remain in perpetuity (and in fact, it’s quite likely they will not); and they aren’t truly ‘open’, as obtaining copies of articles posted requires a login (even if that login is free) and thus does not comply with some funders’ Open Access mandates. Not to mention the trouble they could get into if they are posting versions of the article online for which they’ve signed away their copyrights.

I had the idea that we could view the researchers associated with our institution that have posted in and ResearchGate and contact them to see if they would allow us to harvest their articles for deposit in our IR as well. In hindsight, I should not have been surprised that a number of the scholars listed under the University of Lethbridge were not actually members of our faculty. Many were listed as either Graduate or Undergraduate students, the latter of which I wasn’t aware were part of the target market for these products, and neither of which generally posted any actual articles – presumably they set up their profiles simply to follow other researchers. But others were listed as department members who clearly had no affiliation with the University. There was much ambiguity and lack of authority control in the selection of department listings, including at least one that was completely fabricated.

It made me really question the value of these tools – shouldn’t there be some sort of screening mechanism? There are also a few researchers with a two profiles within one site, with no way to merge the two. It is possible, whether purposely or accidentally, to set up more than one profile using different email addresses. A vetting process in ensuring the registrant has an email address associated with the institution they claim to be a part of would solve this problem in addition to the imposter problem. Allowing non-institutional email addresses may be by design, as Alumni are also allowed to create profiles and may no longer have access to their institutional email. But if these sites claim to be academic in nature, should there not be some sort of authority control or vetting process? What is the damage to the institution if multiple profiles associated with them are not legitimate? What if some of the articles posted by these phony researchers are terrible, tarnishing the university’s reputation? Should universities be taking a more active role in shaping these tools, or at least monitoring them? I have always told people that I see no harm in creating profiles as it just spreads the research wider (but recommend rather than posting papers on these that they redirect via URL to the institutional repository) but now I wonder if in fact these sites could be doing our institution more harm than good.

It was fortuitous that I began this process, because as these questions began to rise to mind I realized I could have a research project here. A quick literature search suggests that little to nothing has been done looking at these sites and asking these questions. There is a lot on how researchers feel about them, and how their metrics compare to more traditional metrics – but nothing looking at the institutional impact. I’ve been struggling for a few months with researcher’s block, feeling uninspired and unmotivated to start a new project; in fact, my lack of excitement over my planned research for a study leave led me to withdraw my application. Stumbling upon this was quite fortuitous so I’m hoping I manage to turn it into something useful. Perhaps not enough to sustain a study leave, but at least enough to get me out of my rut and get publishing again.

What do you counsel faculty members about creating academic social networking profiles? Do you think these tools have an obligation to institutions to try to provide a gatekeeping mechanism against fake profiles? Does it matter? I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts on this topic.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Capturing knowledge: a purposeful role for librarians

by Aoife Lawton, National Health Service Librarian at Health Service Executive
@aalawton on Twitter

In June 2017 I welcomed over 400 health library & information professionals to Ireland to the Joint International Congress of Medical Librarianship and the European Association for Health Information Libraries. It was a great success. It was a week of learning, knowledge exchange and inspiration. As head of the International Programme Committee I was involved in putting the scientific programme together with a great team of librarians from all over the world. This meant I didn’t get to soak up as much of the content during the week as I’d have liked to, but that is really the only drawback of being one of the organisers. The learning involved in conference planning was immense and having the opportunity to work mainly using virtual communication with like-minded professionals who I will likely never meet in person, was a real pleasure.

A standout of the conference for me was a continuing professional development workshop I attended on “Embedding knowledge in healthcare transformation: creating opportunities to inform strategic change”, led by Alison Turner. It was an empowering workshop which paved the way for librarians and knowledge specialists to shape new roles and services to embed knowledge in strategic decision making. Evidence summaries and evidence synthesis are common services delivered by health science librarians, typically to inform patient care decisions. This workshop concentrated on performing specialist knowledge services to enable decision making at another layer – at the managerial and strategic levels of organisations.

The workshop was attended by librarians and managers of library services from many different continents and countries, including Australia, Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Finland and Canada. We shared our varied experiences of how we strive to embed knowledge into healthcare. International exchanges of practice like this are a rare but valuable insight into progress in different areas of the world. From my point of view, it gave me a marker for practice in my organisation and a benchmark to work towards. Alison gave us tools for what she calls ‘Knowledge Capture’. This is something she has been carrying out in the UK with the NHS (National Health Service) for many years. She explained it as working as a knowledge specialist with multidiscplinary healthcare teams. They may have a meeting or a workshop planned and Alison would join them and capture the knowledge exchanged during the meeting, as an independent, non-bias specialist. This sounded like a simple yet innovative way of librarians working as part of a healthcare team and adding real value. Alison explained it is not synonymous with minute taking, it goes much deeper that that. The librarian uses their information skills to organise, capture and deliver the key soundbites of information and deliver it back to the team in a comprehensive, standard template.

Back at work, just a few weeks later, an opportunity arose to try this out. A senior psychologist who works also as a knowledge broker in my organisation contacted me to see if a librarian was available as a co-facilitator for a workshop she was running on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD). Specifically she was looking for someone to capture the knowledge exchanged during the workshop. I didn’t hestitate to take up the offer. The purpose of the workshop was to aid the team to reach a common vision for the prevention of FASD in Ireland and an action plan for its realisation. At times I was a passive observer, particularly as conversations got heated, at other times I was an active participant. My main job was to ensure that the knowledge was captured and that it would aid decision making about the topic. I took photos, I introduced myself to everyone and as people worked in pairs, I aided the psychologist with the roundtable discussions. This is librarians stepping out of their comfort zones, stepping out of the confines of a physical library and getting embedded at the strategic decision making table, where value really is added. This is a new type of service and one that I intend introducing to the Irish healthcare system. It is a practical and innovative use of a health science librarians’ time and skills. I have always considered it a privilege to work in healthcare. What I find most rewarding is working with healthcare professionals – Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals. This type of knowledge capture service can boost motivation, productivity and align librarians more closely to the mission of the health service, namely to improve health.

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Announcing the Library Journal Club Network

by Andrea Miller-Nesbitt
McGill University

Lorie Kloda
Concordia University

Megan Fitzgibbons
University of Western Australia

Back in November 2016, we discussed our recent research on librarians and journal clubs in a post here on Brain-Work. We closed that post with the following aspiration and invitation:

We hope to compile additional resources about journal club practices in librarianship and open communication channels in the future. Watch this space, and please get in touch if you have any ideas about promoting journal clubs for academic librarians.

We are now happy to announce the launch of The Library Journal Club Network, a space where those interested in establishing and sustaining journal clubs can share information, ask questions, and find answers

So far, the site includes:

  • Guidelines for creating and managing a library-related journal club
  • A list of readings and resources about journal clubs
  • A directory of journal clubs

The site is currently set up as a resource for librarians who lead and participate in journal clubs. Going forward, we hope the site will facilitate information sharing through the network. To get started, we invite journal club leaders/facilitators to visit our directory page and submit information about their group to be added to the site.

We also welcome feedback about the site and ideas for expanding it in the future.

Research Groups and the Gift of Spaciousness

by Marjorie Mitchell
Research Librarian, UBC Okanagan Library

As I write this, it is early August. The days are long and hot, and a haze of smoke from wildfires tints the air. It’s a time of year I always find spacious. I have spent much of my life guided by the rhythms of the school/academic year and summer is that glorious time-out from regular duties and a period less scripted than most of the rest of the year. It is the time of the year for “projects” and “research” and “planning” and, my favorite, “reflection.” Traditionally, in the next few days, I would move from this feeling of spaciousness to one of increasing claustrophobia and borderline panic. Oh, it always started off as a mild discomfort. Niggling thoughts of “I should get this done before September” shifted to “I better get this data analysis done” to “OMG, I haven’t done nearly as much as I planned to do and now all my deadlines are getting pushed forward and now I have to plan for the classes I have to teach….” and so on into full panic mode.

This year is different. It’s not perfect, and yes, I still have a few “To Do” lists floating around, but I can see a big difference. This year I have seen evidence of increased research productivity and reduced stress that really are the advantages of sincere, concerted teamwork, specifically a research team.

I have been actively participating in research investigating the research data management needs of faculty from all across Canada and specifically from my institution, the University of British Columbia. I was not the initiator (a big thank you to Eugene Barsky who did initiate these studies at UBC), nor do I do the bulk of any of the work that goes into this research, and that’s the beauty of these research teams – sharing the work really does make it seem more manageable.

The larger team is a group of Canadian librarians, the Canadian RDM Survey Consortium, who saw a situation developing (research data management plans being made mandatory by multiple international granting bodies) and who decided to pro-actively prepare in the strong likelihood that Canadian granting bodies would follow suit. In order to effectively prepare, we needed to understand the research data management needs of our researchers across the disciplines. In other words, we needed to conduct original research about the actual practices and needs of researchers. We sought answers to questions as general as how many research projects did the respondent lead in the past year to specific questions about how much data a respondent’s research generated and where the respondent stored it, etc. We didn’t research all the disciplines at once. Instead, we started first with engineering and natural sciences, followed by the social sciences and humanities in the second round, then concluded with the health and allied sciences. This has taken over two years to complete.

The smaller team is a shifting group of librarians at UBC who have all participated in this research as we have worked our way through the disciplines. These research surveys and their results all form the basis of the national research, but were able to provide significant insight into our local research landscape. If you have questions about what researchers are doing with respect to research data management, we have discovered some of the answers.

The spirit of collaboration, goodwill, and support that members of these groups exhibit every time we meet (virtually) is inspiring. We discuss the tasks that need to be done for research, from the ethics applications, to analyzing the data, to writing the paper or poster, to colour schemes for graphics, etc. As we decide on the tasks, we also volunteer for them. One of the biggest advantages of such groups is the depth and breadth of skill within the group. Each of us aspires to creating the best paper or poster possible and each of us contributes something of value.

The other benefit of these collaborations has been the scheduling of the research, analysis, and writing. When working with a group, I don’t always get to set the timeframes for when the work needs to get completed, and that is not a bad thing. Yes, there can be some long days or extra work on a weekend as I race to meet a deadline I agreed to, but, ultimately, not letting the members of this group down is strong motivation for me. I appreciate that all the members of the group are also putting in the time, one way or another. The scheduling is often driven by conference or journal proposal deadlines, and those all happen in the winter and spring, and not so much over the summer. And so, this year, RDM research is not on my list of things yet to do before September. They really were right at the Librarian’s Research Institute when they suggested not being a solo researcher.

If your research practice is stalled, or hitting some speed bumps, or just not going the way you envisioned it, think about creating or joining a team/group/consortium. The benefits outweigh the costs significantly. And you might have some fun – I know I do.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.