UoL Library Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘postgraduates’

cpd25: Support for researchers (7 December 2012)

Posted by Helen on 2 January, 2013

Senate House

Senate House
Shared via CC BY-SA 2.0 licence

Towards the end of last term I attended the ‘Support for researchers’ event hosted by the M25 Consortium.

It was very nice to be in Senate House and to meet lots of new colleagues. The discussion sessions clearly showed that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to research support. Longer time in the discussion groups would have been useful but unfortunately it was only a half day event.  I have summarised the three speakers below and included some questions raised in discussion.

Miggie Pickton & Nick Dimmock (University of Northampton) started the event by talking about collaboration between the Library, Graduate School and the Research Office at Northampton. The Research Support Hub is a joint initiative between the three teams. It is a WordPress hosted blog, designed to be a one-stop shop for researchers needing information about funding and training. Nick described how there had previously been a very scattered presence and no single place for researchers to find information. The site has only been live since October 1st but has had a good response. There are eight regular contributors and categories/tags are used to maximise discoverability. There is also a section which links to other University blogs and a FAQ page to avoid repetition and aid enquiries.

The repository (NECTAR) is a mutual interest between the Research Office and the Library. The Research Office provides the administrative support; the Library covers the technical issues, metadata and IPR. NECTAR is the main source of data for the REF. In terms of disseminating research, the team are involved in an annual poster competition, annual research conference, and measuring impact.

Benefits of collaboration were increased visibility and increased perceived value of Library services.

Miggie concluded with some tips for making collaboration work:

  • Share common goals and common interests.
  • Actively look for opportunities to collaborate internally
  • Communicate frequently and share knowledge and expertise
  • Present a shared point of view at formal committees.

Jenny Evans (Imperial College London) discussed the Research 2.0 programme at Imperial.  A version of this programme has been running since 2008 but it was only in 2011 that it was integrated into the professional development course for students. The six-week programme was delivered face to face and online, covering productivity, networking, developing an online digital identity, and legal & ethical issues. The advantage of the course was that it raised the profile of the Library and allowed researchers and staff to build their network and collaborate. It was regarded as innovative. However, the blogging part didn’t work so well. Because the course was part of mandatory Graduate School training it was hard to get the researchers to finish the course or stick to deadlines.

Jenny was also involved in filming five interviews with academics about their use of Web 2.0 tools and technologies. The interviewees were at various stages of their career and the aim was to show researchers how a ‘real’ academic was using such tools. The video can be found here.

Jenny’s talk raised a number of issues including:

  • Should we give students guidelines on what technology to use?
  • Should the focus be on the specific tools or the output?
  • How do you evaluate success with Web 2.0 workshops?

Tahani Nadim (Goldsmiths) recently completed her PhD and gave a short talk about her experience of research support. Tahani felt that the Library has a role to play in signposting throughout the PhD, not just at the start. Induction week can be overwhelming and information quickly forgotten. The PhD is an incredibly solitary venture and it is hard to imagine how subsequent years will pan out. Tahani suggested that videos of different stages of the student experience would be useful. She also suggested that Library pages need to answer the question “I need help with…”. Too often they can be buried and messy, when they really need to be simple and clean. The difficulty with a PhD is that you often don’t know what help you need until you need it! This means that problems are often figured out amongst colleagues and the PhD cohort; an informal and valuable network for recommendations.

A number of discussion points were raised:

  • How can the Library’s expertise and resources be used to support research?
  • How can the Library actively participate in the university’s research culture?
  • What role can they play in advising on version management?
  • What about students who aren’t part of the daily research culture?

Posted in Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Critical Appraisal & Evaluation Skills

Posted by selinalock on 14 April, 2010

We had an interesting training session on Monday, run by our colleague Keith Nockels about critical appraisal. Keith went through the session he teaches to various medical and science undergraduates and postgraduates.

We had a really good discussion about based around appraising paper on crows using automobiles as nutcrackers!  Keith had found one of the difficulties with teaching critical appraisal was finding papers which people from various disciplines could discuss, hence the crow paper.

It made us think about whether the medical/science criteria could be applied to other subjects. For example, arts might be more interested in who’s writing the paper and their reputation, over the exact nature of the paper.

We would like to place more emphasis on appraisal and evaluation skills in future. Especially as studies, such as the Digital Information Seeker Report, still suggest that information literacy skills are lacking.  Plus, search technology is still moving towards resource discovery and single search boxes to search across many resources. To user the search seems easy so we need to make sure that they look more closely at the results they are finding.

We already include some evaluation skills in our sessions but there is certainly room for more, and more in-depth skills for postgraduates. At the moment we’re going to carry forward the critical appraisal discussion in our College Teams and look at what we can offer via a subject-specific route.

Some issues I thought we might want to consider were:

  • Do people need to understand better the type of information they’re looking at? E.g. website vs e-journal vs pre-print.
  • How about new ways of disseminating information like blogs or YouTube?
  • Are critical appraisal checklists useful? I thought it might be good to encourage people to write notes as they appraise and then use a checklist to ensure they haven’t missed anything.
  • What are the most effective ways of teaching evaluation/appraisal skills?

I’d be interested to hear what people out there think. What training do you think would be useful? Or what training do you provide?

Also love this little tutorial from our Student Development service on Being a Critical Student. We need to go pick their brains and see how we can offer complementary training.

Posted in Research Support, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The 10 commandments of researcher development

Posted by emmakimberley on 17 September, 2009

I’ve been mulling over some of the main recurring points from the Vitae Researcher Development Conference 09 and their impact on my own practice as someone who engages with researchers. Here is a brief list of qualities that participants in Vitae 09 thought development activities should seek to encourage:

  1. Ability to operate in a web 2.0 environment (for dissemination, collaboration, networking…)
  2. Recognition of the value of both blue-skies creative thinking and applied research
  3. Interdisciplinarity
  4. Dialogue across disciplinary boundaries (This involves presentation and communication skills: researchers being able to present their ideas in accessible and jargon-free language.)
  5. Participation and support from academic role models (Students are more likely to use their training if they see tangible evidence of its usefulness around them.)
  6. Provision of physical and virtual spaces encouraging creativity, community and dialogue.
  7. Getting students to be reflective and to analyse their own needs (E-portfolios were suggested as one method of encouraging this.)
  8. Training that prepares future academics for new academic behaviours (VLRs, new devices and platforms.)
  9. Recognition that preparedness  to cope with change and challenge is more important than any particular set of learned skills (Training needs to be flexible rather than prescriptive.)
  10. Important role of emotional/motivational support in postgraduate research students (This can be done through events and networking opportunities, a focus on the writing process in workshops, providing alternatives to the formal supervision system etc.)

Can anyone add to these?

Posted in Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Messages from the plenary lecture at the Vitae Researcher Development Conference 2009.

Posted by emmakimberley on 14 September, 2009

The plenary speakers were each concerned with reminding researcher developers of their formative role in equipping future researchers with the skills needed to enter a changing research environment in the digital age. Interdisciplinarity, web 2.0 and blue-skies research were high on the agenda.


 Prof. Ian Diamond (chair of RCUK) emphasised that the UK requires a research force who think across disciplines, as well as achieving excellence in their own fields, in order to face the new challenges ahead. These researchers need to be “responsive to new knowledge, new technologies and new strategic economic and social needs”.  

 Prof. Brigid Heywood (Pro VC for Research and Enterprise at the OU) shared her vision of a future researcher capable of reacting to a fast-changing digital academic environment, embedded in an active research community, interacting with other academics and the public on both local and global platforms. This researcher engages in a range of new academic behaviours in a web 2.0 environment. Examples of projects included:

 Prof. Alexandre Quintanilha (Director of the Institute for Biomedical Engineering, Porto) urged the academic community to place less emphasis on the traditional methods of evaluating the quality of graduate training (publication output, funding, etc.) and to focus on training researchers to address some of the major challenges of the 21st century. These challenges often require a mixture of blue-skies thinking and applied thinking, as well as an interdisciplinary approach, involving research methods that have been seen as risky, vague and a threat to disciplinary foundations. Prof. Quintanilha outlined the obstacles facing postgraduates who wish to enter these areas of research that are the most valuable in terms of long-term impact, but frequently also the most challenging in terms of immediate career progression (because of difficulties in publishing and getting funding because they cross evaluation boundaries; unclear departmental affiliation; accusations of lack of focus), and called for graduate training programmes that recognise their role in producing what the research community needs:

  • Curious, imaginative people willing to move across disciplinary and geographical boundaries to follow their dreams
  • People excited about tackling new challenges
  • People prepared for the complex challenge of tackling major world problems of the 21st century

 All three speakers agreed on the importance of developing communities of researchers across disciplinary boundaries, championing academic role models who visibly practise what they teach, and training future academics to be adaptable and responsive to the challenges of a new digital research environment.

Posted in Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The blog as an induction tool

Posted by emmakimberley on 4 September, 2009

It has occurred to me over the last few days while I’ve been finding my feet in a new job that the blog is incredibly useful as an induction tool. I’ve enjoyed reading through previous posts and getting a sense of the history behind various projects. It has also given me an idea of who is interested in what, and especially who might be interested in some of the areas my post as Research Forum Facilitator will work to develop.

Here is a very brief overview of what I’ll be doing up in the Graduate School Reading Room. I’ll be working to facilitate a physical and virtual research forum that will support postgraduate researchers in general, and PhD students in particular. I’ll have a stand up in the reading room, from which I can act as a point of contact for referral to any services they might need, as well as maintaining an online presence. Over the next couple of months I’ll be involved in the exciting new project of setting up a Graduate Media Zoo. I’m also very interested in doing anything I can to smooth the way for doctoral researchers over what can be a difficult few years. This will include using web 2.0 technologies to encourage social and academic networking as well as general problem sharing!

I’m looking forward to talking about web 2.0 with you all… and of course reading more of this valuable resource which is a great help to newcomers!

Posted in Research Support, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Postgraduate sessions – a bit of a review

Posted by gazjjohnson on 20 November, 2008

Whilst the four sessions I’ve run recently for PhD students haven’t been packed, going on the feedback they were much appreciated by those who attended them.  I’ve just gone through the feedback for the sessions and I’ve been rather pleasantly surprised.

  • Advanced database searching fo Science Postgraduates
    • Overall, this session was
      • Very good 71%
      • Good 29%
    • This session was
      • Just the right length 86%
      • Too long 14%
  • Bibliographic Databases & Keeping up to date for Postgraduate Students
    • Overall, this session was
      • Very good 86%
      • Good 14% 
    • This session was
      • Just the right length 83%
      • Too short 17%

Not quite sure if I’d want to do more than 2 hours on RefWorks and EndNote AND keeping up to date!  But those aren’t bad results all in all.  I was very pleased that the elements on Open Access along with searching and using quality OA resources were especially popular, with students asking for more.  As they say ABM*! Best student review quote has to be:

“Excellent session, most useful one so far! All very useful and interesting.”

As for stuff they didn’t like…most said “Nothing” or “All things were necessary” which is very rewarding to hear.  On personal reflection there are a few elements I want to revise before running these sessions again; changing location to a smaller room given the numbers might be one I’ll try pursuing!  I also think I want to make use of a digital format possibly for the workbooks, as I estimate I’ve spent about 5 hours just photocopying and stapling materials for these 4 sessions alone.

Slides are available for those interested – Databases session & Bibliographic session

My one worry is that elements of what I was teaching may have overlapped a little to a lot with some of the session Keith, Selina and probably even Stuart have been teaching.  But then since the whole programme seemed to emerge from the fog fully formed without much input from our end, perhaps that is one thing we now need to look at in retrospect.  So the big question – is there going to be a course review meeting, and how do we ensure that the library is represented on it this time?

*ABM = Always Be Marketing

Posted in Open Access, Referencing, Research Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Theses are the days we remember

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 November, 2008

Just run the first of the e-theses submission sessions on behalf of Keith and Hywel, in this case to 3rd year education PhD students.  Seemed to go quite well, despite the mix of jet lagged and baffled students – the Stables rooms are not the easiest places to find.  Mind you the lighting could do with some tweaks as well, as cast a very soporific sheen over the room.

They seemed reassured by my repeated statements about this being goodfor them, their visibility and their careers.  I also laid the library/university’s helpfulness on with a trowel, which I think was the real key to assuaging their worries.

The questions were mostly about points the late comers had missed, though one overseas student was clearly concerned still by the copyright issues.  Not so much third party, but just the general Open Access unease many academics still have.  I did my best to salve his worries, but encouraged him to get in touch with the LRA to talk it over in greater and more specific details.

But all in all a good start, and doubtless a session all we Information Librarians will be repeating in the coming months.

Slides are  at:

Posted in Leicester Research Archive, Open Access, Research Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

I’m all alone, all by myself…

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 November, 2008

Maybe it was my aftershave.

Just returned from “running” by PhD chemistry databases session. I say “running” as despite having been there a good ten minutes early to clear the room of errant undergrads and there until 2.35pm not a single solitary PhD Chemistry showed their face in the room.

It’s enough to give a librarian a complex.  Ah well, I’ve been stood up before and doubtless I’ll be stood up again.  At least the weather was fine and a walk in the sun was lovely.

I will say that Twitter proved a very valuable tool though during these bleak 35 minutes as I discussed the issue of student inattendance, how long is polite/permissible to hang around before you have to call the deal done and even discussing chemistry resources with another academic.  So at least the time wasn’t wasted.

Personally I found the day and half of teaching prep and production of the handouts useful in my own learning and development.  I know a lot more about CrossFire and SciFinder Scholar than I did before this week.

Now the session was mandatory for the students, so I popped by the office of the Graduate Secretary to fill her in on the situation and I have to say she was wonderful.  I think she was more miffed than I was about them not turning up.  Handed over all the guides, so maybe somehow the students will learn something from my endevours – and next year’s prep won’t take half the time!

Now enough of that and onto a spot of bibliometrics…

Slides from the session are at:

Posted in Research Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Sign(age)s and Portents

Posted by gazjjohnson on 5 November, 2008

Feeling chuffed right now as I’ve managed to get the digital signage here to obey my commands – and so now it’s displaying a new message as well as the standard stuff.  That seemed fairly easy now I know which buttons to press, though the software didn’t make it obvious I can certainly say!

Spent most of today teaching new sessions to the science postgrads on Databases and Endnote/RefWorks. A small but good bunch of students, all of whom bar one came to both sessions.  I have to say it’s been rather a herculaean effort to get all the handouts and lecture slides up and running; but well worth the while.  Like most first run sessions there were various things I felt could have been done better – but you generally only think of them once you’re live.  But since I made the sessions fairly informal I was able to slip them in every now and again as though they were pre-planned.

I think the only two real glitches we hit were Zetoc failing to work for anyone (so I’ve passed that onto Sheree) and some of the EndNote filters not quite working like I expected – something to go away and investigate post-hoc I think.

I’ll read through the feedback tomorrow, once I start working on the Chemistry p/g sessions for next Wednesday – hoping to recycle a fair bit of info…

Posted in Research Support, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »