On ResearchGate and IRs: C-EBLIP Journal Club, October 5, 2017

By DeDe Dawson
Science & Scholarly Communication Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

The C-EBLIP Journal Club article for October 5, 2017 was:

Lovett, J. A., Rathemacher, A. J., Boukari, D., & Lang, C. (2017). Institutional Repositories and Academic Social Networks: Competition or Complement? A Study of Open Access Policy Compliance vs. ResearchGate Participation. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 5(General Issue), eP2131. https://doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2183

I chose this article because it discusses two things that have been on my mind a lot lately: IRs & academic social networks like ResearchGate and Academia.edu. I am thinking about IRs a lot because I’m helping with the planning and pilots of the University of Saskatchewan’s newly rebranded IR: HARVEST (still on a test site so I won’t link to it here). And about academic social networks because ResearchGate (RG) has been in the news so much recently.

It is well known that researchers often post copies of their articles on RG in violation of the copyright terms that they agreed to with the publisher. Another recent article documents this. Well, it looks like RG is finally being forced by publishers to take down these articles that are in violation – and are even removing some that are not. As librarians have been trying to tell their patrons for years: RG is not an open access repository.

So, this article by Lovett et al. from the University of Rhode Island is timely. The authors set out to understand researchers’ practices, attitudes, and motivations around sharing their articles in RG and in their IR in compliance with the university’s Open Access Policy. Lovett et al. admit that they expected to find RG to be in competition with their IR, but interestingly “Faculty who participate in ResearchGate are more likely to participate in the OA Policy, and vice versa” (Lovett et al., 2017, p1).

The group at our journal club meeting also thought this finding interesting. One member pointed out that faculty have such limited time – why would they archive papers in more than one site? And it wouldn’t be surprising if the site they chose was RG due to its ease of use. This does not seem to be the case though (in this study at least). It seems those researchers committed to sharing their articles openly will invest the time in doing this in multiple locations. It is worth noting though that most of the faculty (70.6%) in the study didn’t use RG or the IR!

So, RG and the IR are not competitors. But faculty do still seem to prefer RG. Ease of use has already been mentioned, but we also thought that it fit with the mobility of faculty too. Researchers are always moving to new institutions, so may not feel compelled to invest time in their current institution’s IR. The biggest barrier however, appears to be the fact that IRs actually respect and comply with copyright law. This means that usually authors cannot upload the final version of record of their articles into the IR. This study confirmed once again that many faculty are averse to posting other versions of their works.

The other finding that caught our attention was that Full Professors are more active than lower ranked colleagues on both RG and the OA Policy/IR! This does not fit with what we hear about early career researchers (ECRs) being more willing to experiment with new means of scholarly communications. Our group speculated that senior faculty are secure in their positions and ECRs are more tentative about rocking the boat. It is also likely that senior faculty also have more administrative support to actually do the work of uploading. This second insight rings most true to me…

On the concluding page of the article Lovett et al. (2017) state: “…librarians should prioritize recruiting more faculty to share their work in general and should not see academic social networking as a threat to open access” (p.27).

Amen.

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.

Instant gratification: seeking scholarly literature outside the library: C-EBLIP Journal Club, August 24, 2017

By Jaclyn McLean, Electronic Resources Librarian
University of Saskatchewan

Caffrey Gardner, C., Gardner, G. J., & Gardner, G. J. (2017). Fast and Furious (at Publishers): The Motivations behind Crowdsourced Research Sharing. College & Research Libraries, 78(2). https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.78.2.16578

I expected that this article would strike a chord with my colleagues, and encourage a rousing discussion. Conversation was not limited to the article. We also shared ideas on:

  • the ethics of librarianship (what are they, are they clearly defined/shared in any real way)
  • our personal experiences with and awareness of article sharing and discovery through peer to peer (P2P) or social networks
  • the future of scholarly publishing
  • how we think libraries could do better

Of the six of us in the room, only 2 could not recall being asked to share an article with another person. The other 4 shared anecdotes and stories about this type of scholarly sharing, and the questions it raises about morality, or the ethics of librarianship. If the only reason not to share something is a moral imperative, then we’re in trouble. As librarians and technologically aware people, we know how to access things, and could, but often feel obligated to enforce the paywall. Is it time (finally) to move past the idea of the library, and of librarians, as access points and gatekeepers of information to one of playing a key role in research and advocacy, helping people assess information and learn more about scholarly publishing. Articles like this one could lead someone to rethink a liaison strategy, reconfirm one’s commitment to more permissive licensing of electronic resources, or lead to an evaluation of Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services.

Our discussion raised some very interesting questions/comments:

  • If someone can tweet out enough information using #icanhazpdf in 140 characters, why are ILL forms so blessedly complex? What can we do to raise awareness of desktop delivery services?
  • So publishers put up roadblocks to discovery in our proprietary systems. How can we raise awareness of tools like unpaywall, or the open access button? (want to learn more about these? Try this: Willi Hooper, M.D., (2017). Review of Unpaywall [Chrome & Firefox browser extension]. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 5(1). DOI: http://doi.org/10.7710/2162-3309.2190)
  • Academics aren’t paid by publishers to create content, they are paid by universities and colleges that are often publicly funded, right? So why should they feel conflicted about sharing the results of their hard labour?
  • Open access articles seem to benefit from higher citation rates. Why wouldn’t someone want to share their work in a P2P network to raise more awareness? (learn more about the open access citation advantage: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159614 )
  • It is easier to play into the traditional publishing model and then subvert it than to engage and learn about/try to publish OA or amend an author agreement; easier to share P2P than to ILL; why should we expect anyone NOT to take the path of least resistance?
    • Is it really about getting someone the content they need, or is it about teaching someone how academic publishing and scholarly sharing work? (to use an outdated metaphor, do we give them fish or teach them to fish?) Can we make the shift from being a “get it for me library” to being a “teaching library”?
  • Can we as librarians get out from under the perception of us as a service profession, downloading items from a citation list for someone, shelving and checking out books, and the customer is always right mentality?
  • Why is it, in a time when we have students and faculty who can online shop, search hashtags on Instagram, and create online communities to share research, that we still can’t get them to use the library when the skills required are the same? Why????
  • We need to remember that, for the most part, for the publishers sharing research is not a moral imperative: it’s all about the bottom line & profit

In short, this article stimulated a lot of debate. I’d recommend you give it a read if you’re interested in any of the questions we discussed. And then read this:

Morrison, L., Stephenson, C., & Yates, E. (2017). Walking the Plank: How Scholarly Piracy Affects Publishers, Libraries and Their Users. In ACRL 2017 Conference Proceedings (pp. 740–747). Baltimore, MD. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2017/WalkingthePlank.pdf

And if you’ve got any answers, I’d sure like to hear them. The more I read on P2P networks, sharing and accessing scholarly literature outside of the library, open access, institutional repositories, and other related topics, the more I realize I don’t know, and need to learn.

*It’s certainly a hot topic (and has been for a while). Before I could even submit this post, the Scholarly Kitchen offered their take on SciHub et al. ()
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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.

Library Resources (AND, OR, NOT) Google: C-EBLIP Journal Club, March 20, 2017

By Elizabeth Stregger, Discovery & Access Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

Perruso, C. (2016). Undergraduates’ use of Google vs. library resources: A four-year cohort study. College & Research Libraries, 77(5), 614-630. doi:10.5860/crl.77.5.614

There are so many ways to get to our library content. Students can start their research with the catalogue, discovery layer, research guides, library and archives websites, Google Scholar, and of course, Google. In consultation sessions with librarians and library staff over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about how these tools are perceived and taught in different areas of the University of Saskatchewan Library. I chose this article for the C-EBLIP journal club because it includes the question: does library instruction impact students’ initial choice of search tool?

A whole bunch of “value of libraries / librarianship” questions lurk around this topic, like pesky book reviews retrieved in a low relevancy search. Does library instruction make a difference? Why bother with library discovery systems if students will use Google anyway? Why do students even need libraries if they can write a passable paper using open web resources? One of the journal club members put a stop to these questions with the following zinger: “Is it valuable for kids to go to kindergarten?”

Getting back to the article, we wouldn’t have chosen “Google vs. Library Resources” as the options in the student survey described by the author. Google is a search tool, not a resource. We thought that more appropriate comparisons would include “Google vs. library systems” or “open resources vs. subscribed content.”

The data collection for this longitudinal study began in 2008 when we might have thought differently. So much has changed since then. It is easier to access subscribed resources from Google Scholar or even Google, depending on authentication workarounds. Librarians and archivists put effort into making special collections and other OA resources more discoverable and accessible to all. In a systematic review context, Google searching for grey literature is a recognized expertise. To sum up our conversation: the emphasis is less on what the student is using and more on how they are using it.

These changes in how we think about Google and student searching prompted a discussion of the challenges in conducting longitudinal research in libraries. The survey used in this study was administered a total of eight times over four years. This is a lot of sustained effort for everyone involved. Longitudinal research is subject to significant practical challenges including attrition, which was a factor in this study. It does not have the flexibility to allow for the reframing of survey questions in response to change. These changes become limitations of the research. The discussion section of this paper included many interesting questions and observations.

The discussion section of this paper included many interesting questions and observations. One of the ideas from the discussion section that we found intriguing was the maturation effect. A lot happens in the years that students spend at university. Library instruction and faculty requirements (the two variables in this study) may have a cumulative effect on how students approach research, but there are many other influences in student life. We discussed several of the other influences that might have an impact, such as interactions with peer mentors or student library workers.

In the end, that is what I will take away from our discussion. A student’s experience is made up of lots of interactions with the library, our people, and our systems. We have less control over the variables than we think. And I’ll hang onto that zinger about kindergarten as I continue learning, experimenting, and making things better.

Library technology, diversity, and a question in need of an answer: C-EBLIP Journal Club, February 14, 2017

by Shannon Lucky, IT Librarian, University of Saskatchewan

Dewey, B. I. (2015). Transforming Knowledge Creation: An Action Framework for Library Technology Diversity. The Code4Lib Journal, (28). Retrieved from http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/10442

I picked up this article for our journal club because the title implies that the author has an answer to a question I have been thinking about for months – how can library technology (and library technologists) contribute to diversity for our institutions, collections, and communities? The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada: Calls to Action specifically describes work that must be done in our educational institutions, museums, and archives that require rethinking the systems we use, what their design assumes and implies, and the ways they are problematic for communities and individuals. At the U of S University Library, I am responsible for our online presence, including our website and integrated systems. While we are updating the content and infrastructure of this very public part of our organization I am trying to be conscious and proactive in making sure that our web interfaces invite everyone in and are useful for all members of our community. While I have been asking myself these questions, I don’t really know what a website or digital system that supports diversity looks like. I suspect I am not alone so I wanted to throw the question out to our journal club.

The best conversations in our group don’t always happen around the most well-crafted articles, and that was the case this time around. Our conversation sparked all kinds of new ideas for me, but (to be blunt) this article doesn’t deliver on the promise in the title. The first thing we all noticed was the missing definition of diversity. The author doesn’t give one and we are left to make a lot of assumptions about what they mean. We talked about definitions of diversity at length – about how it has to be about more than race and gender (as we felt this article implied), and that really embracing diversity has to happen in every aspect of the organization continuously and constantly.

We talked about the examples described in the article but agreed that the idea that a single program, event, or new hire effectively checks a diversity box is wrong, bordering on tokenism. One of the members of our group said that diversity means disinvesting in things that we hold dear. Things like what we believe achievement and success looks like, things that directly impact us, and things that make us comfortable and complacent (like tradition or ‘the way we have always done this’). This idea really resonated with me. We talked about how ideas of hiring for ‘cultural fit’ in an organization can be problematic and that having a workplace full of people who get along (because they think the same way, have the same opinions, experiences, and backgrounds), even if the group is gender or racially diverse, isn’t an objectively good thing.

The TRC recommendations and their call for a new relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples came up again in this conversation. We talked about what a new relationship really means and how drivers of major institutions (like libraries) need to give up some control and change the ways we do things, even if this will take more time and resources than we want it to. This connects to something we did like about the article – the call for ‘true partnerships and collaborations’ as part of the 3rd dimension of the 5-part action framework, Embeddedness & Global Perspective. A few members of our group said that that terminology jumped off the page at them, even if it wasn’t discussed in the rest of the article. Investing in long-term meaningful partnerships and collaborations, in ways that are not only convenient or easy for us, would be a way to foster greater diversity in our collections, communities, and organization in general.

There is a part of the actual implementation of the action framework that we were excited about too. The author described the Penn State Library Diversity Residency Program that hires recent LIS grads belonging to groups historically underrepresented in our field for a two-year term, rotating them through different areas of the library including technical departments like digital initiatives, emerging technologies, instructional and research services, and repository and data curation services. This would be a great opportunity for anyone interested in exploring library technology work and would benefit both the residents and the departments they work in by bringing in new perspectives to established teams. I would love to see something like this at more academic libraries.

While our journal club group didn’t think this was a great article, we thought the idea of the framework was interesting but, ultimately, had little to do with library technology in particular. The framework could be applied to diversity in libraries in general, and the challenge should probably be approached this way rather than targeting individual domains in the library. Making our technologies and systems work for everyone is an important step to take. Training everyone to think, research, and work the same way isn’t real diversity, even if the team doing that work looks ‘diverse’.

I went into this discussion looking for specific things I can do in my tech-based work to encourage diversity but I didn’t find an easy answer. A member of our group expressed this well when she said that we all want quick and tidy solutions, but the work we do is difficult and diversity is a multi-dimensional area of inquiry. There are few easy targets that are also meaningful so it’s no surprise that this article isn’t a silver bullet solution. Our conclusion was that change toward real diversity will require long-term investment and constant questions of regular ways of doing things. Our current context won’t hold still, so a one-time solution will never work. A line on a strategic plan, however well-intentioned, won’t make this work. It has to become an everyday practice that infuses every decision we make and everything we do. We won’t always do it perfectly, but having this conversation felt like a solid step in the right direction.

 


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.

The “Why?” behind the research

by Andrea Miller-Nesbitt
Liaison Librarian, Schulich Library of Physical Sciences, Life Sciences and Engineering, McGill University

Lorie Kloda
Associate University Librarian, Planning & Community Relations, Concordia University

Megan Fitzgibbons
Innovation Librarian, Centre for Education Futures, University of Western Australia

When reading journal articles reporting original research, content usually follows the IMRAD format: introduction, methods, results, analysis, and discussion. Word count, author guidelines, and other conventions usually mean that the researchers’ motivation for conducting the study are often left out. In this post we present our motivations for conducting a research study on librarians’ participation in journal clubs:

Fitzgibbons, M., Kloda, L., & Miller-Nesbitt, A. (pre-print). Exploring the value of academic librarians’ participation in journal clubs. College & Research Libraries. http://crl.acrl.org/content/early/2016/08/22/crl16-965.abstract

Being an evidence-based practitioner can sometimes involve a bit of navel-gazing. Beyond using evidence in our professional work (e.g., for decision-making, evaluating initiatives, etc.), we may likewise ask questions about the outcomes of our own professional development choices.

After three years of facilitating the McGill Library Journal Club, we began to think about ways we could disseminate our experience and lessons learned, and most importantly, how we could determine librarians’ perceived outcomes of participating in a journal club. We felt anecdotally that participating in a journal club is worthwhile, but we wondered: Can we formally investigate the impacts of participation on librarians’ practice and knowledge? What evidence can we find to inform the decisions and approaches of librarians and administrators in supporting or managing a journal club? Is there a connection between journal clubs and evidence-based librarianship? We also wanted to learn more about approaches taken in a variety of journal clubs and how they define success for their group.

The McGill Library Journal Club was initially established in order to help foster evidence-based practice by reflecting on the library and information studies literature and using those reflections to inform practice. The journal club also provides a professional development opportunity for all those interested. Although the McGill Library Journal Club has experienced many of the same challenges as other journal clubs, it is still going strong after 6 years thanks to a core group of motivated facilitators. (For more information about the journal club’s activities, see the McGill Library Journal Club wiki.)

In order to answer these questions, we first had to agree on a definition of a journal club. After some reading and deliberation, we framed participation in a journal club as an informal learning activity: learning that occurs outside classrooms or training sessions, but still involves some coordination and structure. In this context, our research question was: “What do librarians perceive as the value of participating in a journal club?” We focused on academic librarians who participate in journal clubs to manage the scope of the study, but a similar approach could be taken in other library and information organizations as well.

Because we were interested in gaining insight into individuals’ experiences, we considered several methods, and ultimately selected an in-depth qualitative method, the hermeneutic dialectic process (Guba & Lincoln, 1989). This is a method that we have seen used in the social sciences for the purpose of evaluation and reconciling diverse perspectives. At the time we were coming up with our research question, one of the authors (Lorie) was an assessment librarian, and interested in qualitative methods. She brought Guba and Lincoln’s writing to the team for discussion. It seemed both appropriate for answering our research question and also flexible to enable us to be able to really capture study participants’ experiences – not just what we expected to hear. We believe that this is the first use of this method in LIS research, so an additional motivation for the study was to apply the approach in the field.

As per the method, we conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with each participant. After the first interview, central themes, concepts, ideas, values, concerns and issues that arose in the discussion were written into an initial “construction” which captured the experiences and perceptions expressed by the interviewee. Then in the second interview, the participant was asked to react to some of the points brought up by the first interviewee, as expressed in the construction. The construction was added to after each interview, incorporating the perspectives of each successive interviewee and used to inform the subsequent interviews. At the end, all participants were given the opportunity to comment on the final construction and let us know whether their perspectives were accurately represented.

Ultimately, we believe that the findings of our published study are of interest to librarians who aim to create and sustain a journal club. In particular, it could offer insight as they form goals for their group and justify the activity, including seeking support and recognition for their group.

More details about the impacts of academic librarians’ participation in journal clubs are of course presented in the article. In addition, in collaboration with the C-EBLIP Research Network, 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.

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.

Digital humanities and the library: Where do we go from here? C-EBLIP Journal Club, October 6, 2016

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan

Article: Zhang, Ying, Shu Liu, and Emilee Mathews. 2015. “Convergence of Digital Humanities and Digital Libraries.” Library Management 36 (4): 362-377. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1684384505/abstract/D65EF9A05834DADPQ/2

In October, the C-EBLIP Journal Club met to discuss an article focused on the evolving domain of digital humanities and its role with the academic library. The article in question, “Convergence of Digital Humanities and Digital Libraries” was published by Zhang, Liu and Matthews in Library Management, a journal that aims to “provide international perspectives on library management issues… highly recommended for library managers.”1 The article discussed ways that libraries might support scholarship in digital humanities (DH), digging into aspects of content, technology, and services that the library might develop for digital humanities scholars. I was compelled to select an article that addressed this subject, as I recently attended a web broadcast of the “Collections as Data” livestream where DH and librarianship were discussed together several times2, leading me to consider my own background in musicology and librarianship and how they might overlap through a digital humanities lens.

The members of the journal club chose to assess the article in question from a few different angles: context, audience, methodology, and findings, and conclusions. Our discussion of the article was aided by use of the EBL Critical Appraisal Checklist.3 Developed by Lindsay Glynn, this tool is made up of a series of questions that help guide the reader through assessment of the study including: study design, including population, data collection, study design, and results.4 We found that using the checklist allowed us to think critically about each aspect of the study design, to assess the reliability, validity, and usability within our own professional context. A summary of our discussion is presented below.

Context & Audience

During our conversation, we noted that this article is aimed at library managers, or those who may be in an administrative role looking to gain a quick picture of the role of libraries in interacting with digital humanities scholars. It was noted that the link between libraries and digital humanities has already appeared in the literature on many occasions, and that to get a fuller picture of how libraries might approach this collaborative work, reading other critical opinions will be of utmost importance. One may want to consult the list of resources provided by the dh+lib folks, which can be found on their website, to get a sense of some of the core literature.5

Methods

The methods section of this article describes how the researchers consulted various evidence sources to identify current challenges and opportunities for collaboration between DH and libraries. In this case, the authors state that they have combined findings from a literature review and virtual and physical site visits to “humanities schools, research centers, and academic libraries.” The databases were shared, though search terms were not. We felt that including this information would be helpful both for assessing the quality of the search and for other researchers hoping to replicate or build on the review. The search resulted in 69 articles, 193 websites, and 2 physical site. While discussing the validity of these evidence sources, we felt that while the literature and online site visits may provide a more representative selection of sources to draw conclusions from, the sample of physical sites was not large enough for sufficiently precise estimates.

Findings

Zhang, Ying and Mathews’ findings include both challenges and opportunities for collaboration between DH and digital library communities. Description of how the evidence was weighed or analysed to retrieve these results was not clearly outlined in the paper, and we felt that including such information would assist the reader to evaluate the usefulness and reliability of the findings. A summary of these findings is provided in the accompanying chart.

Challenges Opportunities
• “DH is not necessarily accepted as qualifying scholarship… novel methodologies and the theoretical assumptions behind their work have been questioned by their peers from traditional humanities schools of thought.” • Creating “knowledge through new methods”
• “The DH community has unbalanced geographical and disciplinary distributions… Related DH collections are not yet integrated. These digital collections are distributed in different schools, academic units, museums, archives, and libraries. Few efforts have been made to link related resources together.” • Working “across disciplines [that] are highly collaborative”
• “The technologies used in DH create barriers for new scholars to learn and for projects to be sustainable” • Producing a “unit of currency…[that] is not necessarily an article or a book, but rather, a project…usually published using an open web platform, allowing users to dynamically interact with underlying data,”
• Establishing “major scholarly communication, professionalization, and educational channels”

Conclusions

In the conclusion of the article, Zhang, Ying and Mathers present a positive perspective on the opportunities for collaboration between the DH and library community: “To make collaborative work more successful, we, LIS professionals, need to challenge ourselves to continuously grow new skill sets on top of existing expertise and becoming hybrid professionals. The DL community should strive to make ourselves more visible, valuable, and approachable to the DH community. Even better, the DL community need to become part of the DH community.”

On this point, the journal club’s conversation focussed on the capacity of libraries to take on these new collaborations, and whether we are necessarily prepared for such projects. These thoughts are echoed by Posner, who writes in her article, “No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library” that “DH is possible in a library setting…but that DH is not, and cannot be, business as usual for a library. To succeed at digital humanities, a library must do a great deal more than add ‘digital scholarship’ to an individual librarian’s long string of subject specialties.”6

The domain of DH is compelling and creative: it incorporates new methods, produces innovative means of dissemination, and combines diverse perspectives on research. Libraries are well positioned to contribute to this domain, though exactly how this should or can happen is not found in a one-size-fits-all answer. Zhang, Ying and Mathers present some good points that may serve to begin a conversation on how libraries and DH folks might work together. Further research on each of these points is up for further investigation for the librarian or administrator aiming to implement these strategies in their own institution.

1“Library Management.” https://ulrichsweb.serialssolutions.com/title/1478296246359/117078

2Library of Congress. “Collections as Data: Stewardship and Use Models to Enhance Access” September 27, 2016. Accessed November 4, 2016: http://digitalpreservation.gov/meetings/dcs16.html

3EBL Critical Appraisal Checklist. http://ebltoolkit.pbworks.co/f/EBLCriticalAppraisalChecklist.pdf

4Glynn, Lindsay. “A critical appraisal tool for library and information research”, Library Hi Tech 24, no. 3 (2006): 387 – 399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/07378830610692154

5“Readings” dh+lib. Website. Accessed November 4, 2016. http://acrl.ala.org/dh/dh101/readings/

6Posner, Miriam. “No Half Measures: Overcoming Common Challenges to Doing Digital Humanities in the Library.” Journal of Library Administration 53, (2013): 43-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01930826.2013.756694

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.

More Data Please! Research Methods, Libraries, and Geospatial Data Catalogs: C-EBLIP Journal Club, August 25, 2016

by Kristin Bogdan
Engineering and GIS Librarian
University Library, University of Saskatchewan

Article: Kollen, C., Dietz, C., Suh, J., & Lee, A. (2013). Geospatial Data Catalogs: Approaches by Academic Libraries. Journal of Map & Geography Libraries, 9(3), 276-295.

I was excited to have the opportunity to kick-off the C-EBLIP Journal Club after a brief summer hiatus with a topic that is close to my heart – geospatial data! This article was great in the context of C-EBLIP Journal Club because it introduced the basics of geospatial data catalogs and the services around them, and provided an opportunity to look at the methods used by the authors as part of an ALA Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT) subcommittee research project.

Most of the group was unfamiliar with geospatial data catalogs, so the introductory material provided a good base for further discussion. There was good material about the breadth of the different metadata standards involved and how they are applied at the different levels of data detail. There was also good discussion about the importance of collaboration and the OpenGeoportal consortium in developing geospatial data catalogs.

One of the key themes of our discussion was that we would have liked to see more information about the research design and more data. We would have liked to see mention of the ethics process that the authors went through before carrying out their study. Our group had questions about the process that the subcommittee used to choose their sample, as it seemed like it was fairly limited. The authors acknowledge that this was not meant “to create a complete inventory” (p.281), but it seemed like it could have been broader to be more representative. We would also have liked to see the questions that were asked during the interviews and more of the qualitative data from the interviews themselves. It was unclear how structured the conversations with the catalog managers were and how the data presented in the tables and the conclusions were derived. The information presented in the tables was not consistently organized and seemed like it would have been more useful in the context of the interview. The pie chart they used on page 283 to show the “Approaches to Developing Geospatial Data Catalogs” was not as useful as a table of the same information would have been, as there are 5 pie sections to represent 11 data points.

In light of the questions around the data collection, the leap from the tables of responses to the recommendations seemed fairly large. In general, the lists of questions to consider when determining how to implement a geospatial data catalog were helpful but they aren’t really recommendations. The cases that they present provide some ideas about the staffing and skills required to create a geospatial catalog, but they are vague. The first case seemed unnecessary, as it states “The library has determined that there is a clear need to provide access to the library’s spatial data and other spatial data needed by the library’s customers. However, the library does not have the technology, staffing, or funding needed to develop a spatial data catalog.” It would have been nice to see some alternative solutions for those without the ability to create a full-blown data catalog like suggestions about some practices that could be put in place to start building the foundation of a geospatial data catalog like specific cataloging practices or file-type considerations.

Our discussion concluded with reflection on how carefully and critically we read articles in our general research lives. One of the great things about Journal Club is that we have the opportunity to really interrogate and dissect what we are reading. The ensuing discussion is an opportunity to see the article from many different perspectives. This makes us better researchers in two ways: we are trained to more thoroughly evaluate the things we read and we take that into consideration in the research that we produce.

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.

The Problem with the Present: C-EBLIP Journal Club, June 21, 2016

by Stevie Horn
University Archives and Special Collections, University of Saskatchewan

Article: Dupont, Christian & Elizabeth Yakel. “’What’s So Special about Special Collections?’ Or, Assessing the Value Special Collections Bring to Academic Libraries.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice [Online], 8.2(2013): 9-21. https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/19615/15221

I was pleased to have the opportunity to lead the last C-EBLIP Journal Club session of the season. I chose an article which looked at the difficulties in employing performance measures to assess the value of a special collection or archives to the academic library. The article has some failings in that it is written largely from a business perspective, and uses special collections and archives interchangeably in a way that becomes problematic if you consider the archives’ responsibility as a repository for institutional records (which go through many different phases of use)—however, it did serve as a useful springboard for our talk.

What interested me was that those present immediately latched on to the problem of “What about preservation value?” when considering the article’s model of measuring performance. The article poses that the best way to measure a special collection/archives’ “return on investment” is not simply by counting the number of times an item is used (a collection-based method), but rather by reporting the number of hours a user spends working with an item, and what the learning outcomes of that use are determined to be (a user-based method) (Dupont and Yakel, 11).

In some ways, a user-centric approach to measuring performance in archives and special collections makes good sense. A single researcher may spend five weeks exploring fifteen boxes, or taking a close look at a single manuscript, and so recording the user hours spent may prove a more accurate measure of use. To reinforce this, there are a number of difficulties in utilizing collection-based metrics with manuscript collections. Individual documents studied within an archival collection are almost impossible to track. Generally a file is treated as an “item”, and the number of files in a box might be averaged. The article points out, accurately, that this imprecision renders collection-based tabulation of archival documents, images, and ephemera virtually “meaningless” (Dupont and Yakel, 14).

However, if the end goal is determining “return on investment”, user-centric data also leaves out a large piece of the picture. This piece is the previously mentioned “preservation value”, or the innate value in safeguarding unique historical documents. Both collection-based and user-based metrics record current usage in order to determine the value of a collection at the present time. This in-the-present approach becomes problematic when applied to a special collections or archives, however, for the simple reason that these bodies not only preserve the past for study in the present, but also for study in the distant future.

To pull apart this problem of using present-based metrics to measure the worth of a future-purposed unit of the academic library, we look at the recent surge in scholarship surrounding aboriginal histories. As Truth and Reconciliation surfaces in the public consciousness, materials which may have been ignored for decades within archival/special collections are now in high demand. Questions of this nature accounted for approximately forty percent of our usage in the last month alone. Had collections-centric or user-centric metrics been applied for those decades of non-use, these materials would have appeared to be of little worth, and the special collections/archives’ “return on investment” may also have been brought into question. The persistence of archives and special collections in preserving unique historic materials regardless of patterns of use means that these materials can play a role in changing perspectives and changing lives nationwide.

If, as Albie Sachs says in his 2006 article on “Archives, Truth, and Reconciliation”, archives and special collections preserve history “for the unborn . . . not, as we used to think, to guard certainty [but] to protect uncertainty because who knows how the future might use those documents”, might not the employment of only present-centric metrics do more damage than good? (Sachs, 14). And, if the value of an archives or special collections cannot be judged solely in the present, but must take an unknown and unknowable future into account, perhaps the formulation of a truly comprehensive measure of “return on investment” in this field is impossible.

Sources:
Dupont, Christian & Elizabeth Yakel. “’What’s So Special about Special Collections?’ Or, Assessing the Value Special Collections Bring to Academic Libraries.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice [Online], 8.2(2013): 9-21. https://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/19615/15221

Sachs, Albie. “Archives, Truth, and Reconciliation”. Archivaria , 62 (2006): pp. 1 -14.

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.

The Many Benefits of OA and Open Peer Review: C-EBLIP Journal Club, May 10, 2016

by DeDe Dawson
Science Library, University of Saskatchewan

Article:
Tennant JP, Waldner F, Jacques DC et al. The academic, economic and societal impacts of Open Access: an evidence-based review [version 1; referees: 4 approved, 1 approved with reservations]. F1000Research 2016, 5:632 (doi: 10.12688/f1000research.8460.1)

This is arguably the perfect journal club article! A juicy topic with a few points of contention, a journal platform with many innovative features, and open post-publication peer review. Lots and lots to discuss, and indeed we ran out of time. Here I try to summarize our conversation:

I always gravitate towards review articles and highly recommend them to students. They are often the most efficient way to get up to speed on all the relevant literature in a complex area. Open Access (OA) is just such a complex area with multiple overlapping layers of issues, and all progressing so rapidly, that it is the ideal topic for a review. It is ironic because OA itself is such a simple concept. The complexity comes from the challenges of implementation and the multiple stakeholders (and vested interests) involved.

This review article summarizes the main evidence to date on the impact of OA from three perspectives: academic, economic, and societal. They are essentially three lines of reasoning in support of OA. We thought that the strongest, most well-developed argument in favour of OA in this article was the academic. It certainly had the most citations behind it because of the highly productive research area documenting the OA citation effect. We also thought that maybe this academic perspective was focused on by the authors because it was the most likely to persuade researchers who might be reading this review.

So, was the point of the article to persuade researchers to support OA? The authors have an obvious bias as proponents of OA. But how important is it for authors to be neutral? We thought it was unrealistic to expect authors not to have a bias, and for most kinds of papers authors indeed argue a particular point. But should review papers be different? It was suggested that if authors are clear and upfront about their objectives and competing interests this shouldn’t be a problem.

This brought us to the question of what evidence against OA might there be anyway? (We expose our own pro-OA bias here!). One of the online commenters on the article challenged the authors to provide a more balanced review – but he could not provide the authors with links to literature to support these other anti-OA perspectives. Some of the obvious counter-arguments were already dealt with in the article: such as the rise of deceptive (“predatory”) publishing, and the challenges of paying article processing charges (APCs) for authors without funding or those from underdeveloped countries. Otherwise, it is pretty hard to argue against OA unless you are a commercial publisher (or shareholder) with financial interest in sustaining the current system. The commenter argued that jobs will be lost in the transition. But this is a weak point. Are we to prop up an entire dysfunctional, and inequitable, system for the sake of some jobs? Besides these jobs will likely morph into other more relevant and useful functions. What seemed to emerge from this back-and-forth was that “sustainable” means something completely different to commercial publishers (and their allies) and OA proponents! Publishers are from Mars; OA proponents are from Venus.

Beyond the article itself we had a lot to say about the platform and the open peer review model. The article is essentially still in its pre-print version. It was posted on the F1000Research site before peer review. It was a fascinating process to see the reviewers’ reports as they were submitted, and to watch as others commented on the article and the authors responded. It gave the impression of a proper scholarly conversation taking place. This is ideally what journals should be facilitating. Technology allows this now – so why are so many journals still clinging to outdated formats from the print era?

The “open” nature of the reviews and comments also ensured an appropriate level of civility. Who has not received rude and unproductive comments from a reviewer that feels protected by their anonymity? (There is an entire Tumblr site devoted to such remarks!). However, if the reviewer is obliged to reveal themselves, not just to the authors but to the whole of the readership, then they are more likely to behave diplomatically, and provide constructive and substantiated critiques. This also works in the reviewer’s favour: readers (and evaluators) can plainly see the amount of work and time invested by the reviewer in their function. If the reviewer has spent considerable time in providing a thoughtful review then they can justifiably link to it on their CV and collegial committees can see for themselves the energy the reviewer expended.

We also spoke of how we might use this kind of journal format in information literacy instruction with students. This would more clearly make the point that scholarship is a conversation, and that there are multiple points of view. It would demystify the peer review process too: we can see the issues raised by the reviewers and can follow the paper into its next version seeing how the authors might address these concerns. This process is usually completely hidden from the average reader; so it is difficult for a student to imagine a paper other than the final version.

These various versions of papers do present challenges for the reader in citing though! It seems that all the versions remain on the site and have their own DOIs, but the added complexity in citing remains. This is a relatively minor issue though compared to the benefits of an open scholarly conversation that such a model of peer review allows.

We look forward to seeing the next version of this article and continuing the conversation on the benefits of OA!

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.