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USTLG November Meeting: Supporting Research

Posted by selinalock on 1 December, 2014

On the 26th November 2014 I attended and spoke at the University Science & Technology Librarians (USTLG) winter meeting on supporting research at Aston University. The last time I attended a USTLG meeting was in 2012 when I spoke about our re-structure into a Teaching and Learning team, a Research Support Team and a Special Collections/Digital Humanties team, and I was juts about to start my post as a Research Information Advisor.

This time I updated attendees on what had happened since the restructure and how the Research Services team had developed, and took #OAowl along for company:

#OAowl on the train to Birmingham

#OAowl on the train to Birmingham

The line-up for the day was:
Research Bites – researcher training programme
Georgina Hardy & Clare Langman
Aston University

  • Subject librarians with research support as part of their remit.
  • Research Bites – every lunchtime in July/August, 15-30mins sessions.
  • Record audio & slides to make available.
  • Used EventBrite for bookings & to keep stats on attendance.
  • Advertsie via lots of methods e.g. new bulletin, direct emails, flyers/posters to Depts, posters in library, in email sigs.
  • LibGuides to gather recordings.
  • Options to stay after talk to try  things out hands-on (in the lovely library training room where we had the meeting!)

Raising Your Research Profile – training programme
Linda Norbury & Judith Hegenbarth
University of Birmingham

  • Research support group to oversee research training within the library, run by subject librarians/group.
  • Tried out research support (ideas sessions) on Publication strategies, Open Access, Bibliometrics & Social Media on subject librarians first – helps upskill library staff.
  • Good feedback and led to other sessions/contacts, but need to review and expand in future.
  • Raising your research profile webpages.

Developing a blended learning approach to literature searching support for PhD students
Jenny Coombs & Liz Martin
De Montfort University

  • Compulsory lit searching module for PhD students as part of the Graduate School training programme.
  • Moved to an online approach – students can choose online module + face-to-face sessions or online only (depending on if they can visit campus)
  • Involves all subject librarians in the feedback part of the module – where students fill in a lit searching form to show what they have understood of the module.

Consultancy, bitesize and training – how Northumbria supports researchers
Suzie Kitchin
Northumbria University

  • Provide free advice and help with literature searching for all researchers, but also provide a charged literature searching service for funded projects that wish the library to undertake the literature search for them – charged at research librarian pay rate per hour.
  • research development week – feedback that it’s a good brand that is seen as targeted directly at researchers.
  • Use an online tutorial that is a pre-requisite to face-to-face teaching to ensure everyone is on the same level.
  • Skillsplus – online learning repository – includes all researcher materials – all online tutorials/learning objects are bitesized.

Supporting researchers – then and now
Selina Lock
University of Leicester

JISC Open Access Pathfinder project
Linda Kerr
Heriot-Watt University

  • Research Support Librarian – remit to run repositories and support open access publishing.
  • Offers advice, co-ordination, writes policies, support to staff in schools.
  • OA fund devolved to schools who deal with APCs.

 

Applying systematic review methodology from Health to other Science disciplines
Beth Hall
University of  Bangor

  • Supports systematic reviews in medicine/health care but found a growing demand for using thouse methods in other subjects such as ecology and software engineering.
  • Bangor Evidence Synthesis Hub (BESH) – Application of review methods and processes to different and interdependent contexts such as health, social care, environment, conservation.
  • Issues with applying methods to other areas – no one database to model search on (e.g. Medline in medicine), search functionality lacking in databases, no subject terms, no register of systematic reviews in non-medical areas.
  • Centre for evidence Based Conservation

 

You can access copies of the presentations on the USTLG website.

Tweets from the day: USTLG November 14 Storify (header seems to feature #OAowl)

Posted in Meetings, Open Access, Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Training, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

USTLG Spring 2012 Meeting – Being a Science/Engineering Librarian

Posted by selinalock on 4 September, 2012

A very, very late report on the Spring meeting that I attended and spoke at, which was held at the University of Newcastle.

Although the main theme of the event was sharing experiences of being a science and engineering librarian, some other loose themes emerged becoming embedded vs becoming generic, and the way the profession has/is changing.

Being a subject librarian – Changes to the Profession

So, what does it mean to be a subject librarian? Jenny Campbell, Newcastle University

– Recognise how our jobs are changing – teaching, marketing, web guru
– Allowed to develop more things on OA & Endnote.
– Different ways of teaching, larger groups, lectures with drop-ins
– Research support growing – workshops at Faculty level (50-60hrs to PhD students) + need to do more
– Using social media & have some engagement
– Student surveys for refurbishment of library = more study space, quiet areas, more books, power supply at every desk, more IT…

The Environment and Technology librarian: a new professional’s perspective, making the role your own, Emma Illingworth, University of Brighton

– Know my students, researchers, school staff, academics, subjects
– Social networking on the student/staff community networking site
– Twitter for the subjects – but are the students on there? Professionals are on there but students prefer FB. Are there better ways of engaging?
– Little funky business cards to give to staff & students
– Mainly a L&T role & has become embedded in some modules
– Info skills in each year – need a clear path through the modules
– Tried various ways of delivering teaching – for some groups need to change activities to keep attention
– Email before session to online noticeboard to ask what they want out of session – works well for some groups & not others
– Working collaboratively with academics & sharing successes
– Helped with open day & it was pointed out as a unique selling point to students = their own librarian
– Future – wants to be an embedded librarian

From Soviet Studies to Science and Engineering, Jenny Brine, Lancaster University

– 40 years of librarianship, but only science for a few years
– 1st degree in Russian & first post was running library for Russian & East European Studies = Essential to have language skills, hard to find reliable information, embedded/worked closely with research staff, encouraged to do a PhD, specialised, treated as member of research team and found researchers didn’t want to share data until after they were published,
– Moved to Aberdeen & started teaching IL skills (just didn’t realise that they were called IL, but had been compiling bibliographies for years so had the skills required) to a wide range of subjects, encouraged to do a teaching qualification, had to supervise students doing searches in many subjects – learned about how to find out about research/suject vocabularly,
– Lancaster Uni Library – started in ILL which gives you a good picture of research within the Uni plus contact with staff and students, could notice trends and suggest books for purchase.

– Learning about new subjects – informal (family), formal – colleagues, reading, web resources etc
– Read new scientist
– Support from sci & tech lib colleagues e.g. lis-medical, USTLG, courses & conferences
– Read the study skills/research skills books for subjects
– Talk to academics – get invites to meetings or to look around the Depts.

Widening Participation: building on the role of a science librarian, Tony Wilson, University of York

– Helps with Developing Independent Learning Day for schools & colleges network – aimed at 6th formers
– Library challenges = researching & evaluating info (other session on day about academic writing, campus tour & student ambassadors help with day)
– Quzzies about how library works
– Wanted to work closely with other Uni services to make the events more joined up – collaborated more & became the actual widening participation co-ordinator for Uni
– Extended projects may start to be taken into consideration for Uni admissions
– Develpoing a realising opp website at York – freely available resources
– Also work with local primary school projects – they liked the tour of the library! Done some sessions with school librarians and 10yr olds about evaluating websites
– Challenges – Doing on top of normal liaison post, need to be an all rounder, lack of clear leanining objectives from schools, maintaining discipline within classes
– Top tips – use student ambassadors, ensure clear understanding/agreement over what is being covered, keep session interactive, keep groups small
– Now have a relationship management team with WP as an area they deal with, share the workload – in future all liaison librarians will play a role.

All Change! Restructuring Academic Liaison, Selina Lock, University of Leicester

– I talked about our restructure from a team of subject librarians to a team of T&L Librarians (each with a subject remit for UG & PGT students) and a Research Support Team (each with a much wider subject remit for PGR and Researchers).

– I move into my new position supporting STEM researchers in a couple of weeks and I already know I need to learn more about/provide more support on our research archive, OA publishing, REF preparation, copyright, research data management… on top of the experience I already have in teaching literature searching and bibliographic software.

Becoming Embedded (in various ways…)

Embedding information literacy teaching within Engineering, Liz Martin, De Montfort University

– Moved from one induction slot in 2005 to sessions in induction, 1st yr, final yr UG, PG students
– Web-based Induction before students arrive & available all during their first year plus face to face induction within course induction

– 1st yr session = 2hr within design project module (e.g. design a remote controlled gutter cleaner), within report have to show evidence of research & IEEE referencing.

– Final yr UG as part as project briefings, big lecture to everyone as a refresher with the option to sign up for tutorials for more help.
– PG (MSc) – 2hr session
– How from one induction to embedding? Lots of chance opportunities, put together a Bb module for another subject & then showed it to other academics, Technology module leaders liked it, other links were forged through management boards (external examiner feedback), once referencing session in place led to other academics being interested & 1st yr engineering project session came through that, also worked with study support to introduce sessions on report formatting & do team teaching on some sessions.
– Future – a lot of teaching still ad-hoc/short notice, would prefer to be timetabled, see students every year of course, keep plugging for other subjects.

Making yourself indispensible – Science Community Librarianship, Steve Lee, University of Glamorgan

– Science, sport, chiropractice – too many subject to be traditionally embedded!
– Must be valued by our users – how?
– Make our users lives easier – if they value us they will fight to keep us
– Get out of the library – go to where users are
– Visit academic staff in their offices (on their turf) – what are their problems & work out action plan to resolve problems
– What are their problems? = time management, getting research time, dealing with students, accessing journals, searching easier on google, marking, admin takes time, keeping up to date etc
– Library matters not a priority, help solve their problems and their priorities – what makes their life easier?
– Visit your researchers & find out their interests – keep notes
– Plan individual strategies to meet needs – become valued member of support team
– Upskill users – you don’t loose value as they will come back when they need updating
– Takes time to set up e.g. new book lists & Journal ToC, but once up & running they can become automated
– Can then focus on individual problems- take ownership of problems & see it through to resolution instead of passing on to someone else
– Staff & students want fast resolutions to problems – want help now.
– E.g. staff member wanted to be able to borrow moe than 15 books – is it a resonable request? What do other institutions do? Present evidence to colleagues to increase loan limit & take it to senior management – agreed to put it up to 22 for a year – tiny amount took it up but had a few very happy academics.
– Periodically revisit staff to re-evaluate & find out about new needs.
– If you can’t solve the problems then at least they know you tried.
– In response to student need – sits in chiropractic dept at set times to help, as they are in a building away from both libraries – sit in student computer room so became another channel for helping students solve other problems too. Other people wanted same service & now done in other Depts.
– These surgeries allow you to get to know students, staff & researchers, can do work even if people don’t come, on average answer a couple of indepth queries each time, gather evidence for resources needed, only do in term time (exam times usually very quiet).

– Have to be pro-active so users cannot afford to loose you…

Hiding library training in other classes, Kirsty Thomson, Heriot-Watt University

– Students not keen on library training – think they already know it – even if they turn up they are not there in spirit.
– What do students care about? Getting their degree.
– Intro to Essay writing – biology students in wk 2+3, jointly teaching with effective learning tutor – saw in groups of 60-70 & got them to do group work looking at extracts of texts (e.g. journal, textbook, fiction, newspaper)
– Think about the style of writing, could they use it for essay, where/what did it come from, followed by group discussion on what is/isn’t appropriate for essay writing
– Fake essay extract with no references, talk about importance of referencing & got them to look at the essay to see whether they picked up where it should be referenced
– Class discussion on plagiarism – ‘is this plagiarised or not?’ slides
– 75% of class said info about referencing was useful & relevant
– Liked group work, working with examples
– Followed up by essay feedback class – essays submitted via TurnItIn – which librarian could see & based follow up on the kind of mistakes they’d made e.g. structuring, problems with referecing, using illustrations
– Made you realise what students don’t know! e.g. don’t realise a 70% mark =  a brilliant essay
– Go to meetings, volunteer for anything that is IL related, work with other services e.g. effective learning
– Needs to be relevant to student interest & worries
– Be convinced your teaching is interesting – if you’re not interested then they won’t be!
– Be careful what you call your sessions e.g. Avoiding Plagarism became ‘Copy & Paste: Just Say No!’ (only works if you remember Grange Hill!) – finally became ‘Using evidence in your essays’
– Don’t give up on an idea too quickly, but be ready to change classes if not working.
– Link to an assignment if possible
– Future: put shorter IL content into other lectures – build links to course content.

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

Mendeley Institutional Edition

Posted by selinalock on 25 April, 2012

Mendeley Institutional Logo 

 

Mendeley (the academic reference manager and social network site) have partnered with library suppliers Swets to produce the Mendeley Institutional edition, and I had a webex meeting with product manager Simon Litt to find out more.

Mendeley End User Edition

The end user edition is bascially what is already available for free from Mendeley:

  • Desktop reference management software, which allows you to organise nd cite a wide range of reference typs.
  • Desktop software also allows you to upload, read and annotate PDFs.
  • Desktop links to a web-based system which allows you to synch and share your references.
  • Web system also works as an academic social network with groups etc.
  • 1GBWeb space, 500 MBPersonal, 500 MBShared, 5 Private groups, 10 Users per group

Mendeley Institutional Edition

  • Upgrade to end user edition (normally £4.99 per month) to
    • 7GBWeb space, 3.5 GBPersonal, 3.5 GBShare, 10 Private groups, 15 Users per Private group
  • Upload a list of library holdings (journals) to allow fulltext access for institutional members.
  • Turn on institutional OpenURL.
  • Institutional groups – any mendeley users signed up with an institutional email will automatically be added to institutional group & can add further members.
  • Analytics – who’s publishing and reading what.
  • Reading tab – See what your users are reading (adding to Mendeley) by journal title and compare with library holdings.
  • See most read/popular articles.
  • Publishing tab – where your members are publishing.
  • Impact tab – worldwide usage of your members published articles e.g. most read.
  • Compare your institution with other Mendeley institutions with regards to impact/how read your institutions articles are.
  • Social tab – what groups your users are in.

The main thrust of the institutional edition is the analytic functions that Swets have worked with Mendeley to add. The pricing models are currently being worked on so no idea what the price this would be.

When I previously reviewed Mendeley (alongside RefWorks, EndNote, CiteULike & Zotero) in 2010/11 the main issue with using it an institutionally recommended product was that the desktop software needed admin access to be installed and updated regularly on user machines. As far as I can tell this issue hasn’t been addressed in the institutional edition, as user would still download the free desktop software from the Mendeley site or just use the wbe interface.

My questions surrounding the institutional edition would be…

  • Would it be able (be accepted as) a replacement for EndNote and/or Refworks? As there seems little point in getting the institutional edition for the analytics if our users were not using the desktop/web reference software.
  • Do the analytics give us enough “added-value”?
  • How does the analytical information compare with other types of bibliometris from IRIS or InCites?
  • Are the analytics only going to be useful to certain disciplines as they currently only look at journal articles and titles?

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

USTLG Winter Meeting 2

Posted by selinalock on 8 December, 2010

This follow on with my report of the USTLG Winter Meeting.

Finding the known unknowns and the unknown knowns, Yvonne Nobis, University of Cambridge.

  • Talked about their development of the http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/scienceportal/website aimed specifically at researchers (which I know some of our researchers rather like the look of!)
  • Researchers often don’t known what they’re looking for: unknown unknowns, as research skills might need updating, looking for something outside their field or don’t know where to begin.
  • Scientists don’t tend to use the Cambridge libraries (over 100 of them so confusing system) and they want everything electronically so looking for a way to meet their needs.
  • Found most visitors to the science library are those looking for historical (print) information, or students wanting a place to study.
  • ~95% journal are online and ~95% of monographs are still print only.
  • In response to this they will now scan on demand from their own collections for Cambridge researchers (currently a free service as charging would have copyright law implications).
  • As the staff would often need to retrieve these items from storage the scanning has not added too much extra effort.
  • Science librarians at Cambridge do a lot of training of early career researchers.
  • Science@Cambridge contextualises information within a subject area to help researchers start their searching.
  • Includes a federated search option where relevant databases have been chosen (to steer researchers away from just using Google Scholar as they don’t realise what scholar doesn’t index: unknown unknowns).
  • Trying to make resource discovery as easy as possible.
  • Have problems with making eBooks easy to access, especially individual titles on catalogue records.
  • Trialled using chat with subject  librarians but not really worked so looking at centralising enquiries more.
  • Training branded through College or Computing Services gets a better turn out than library branded training.

We use a similar idea to Science@Cambridge in our subject rooms, but could learn more from them when redeveloping our Rooms as part of our digital library overhaul? Hopefully using Summon in future will make resource discovery easier at Leicester

Lunch!

Obviously the most important part of any conference is the lunch provided. This time it was a good spread sponsored by Wiley Publishers, and in a very unexpected place…

USTLG Lunch in a Church!

Lunch in the Divinity School

USTLG Lunch 2

Citations Count! Experience of providing researcher training on bibliometrics, citations and Open Access publishing. Kate Bradbury,  Cardiff University.

  • Training in citation data in response to REF raising interest in bibliometrics, funders requesting bibliometric data, help deciding where to publish and to promote work. 
  • Training covers: WoS/Scopus/Google Scholar, looking for data in other sources (e.g. book citations, full text resources which include references), what each database provides e.g. impact factors, increasing citations, using open access publishing and repositories.
  • Format of training: 30 min talk and 1 hr hands-on using workbooks – activities such as finding impact factors, setting up citation alerts, looking at OA resource and using ResearcherID.
  • Also do shorter, tailored talks for Departmental meetings etc.
  • Sessions dones for subject librarians, staff development programme, specific schools/depts (e.g. Comp Sci, Engin, Psychology) and within seminar series.
  • Lessons learnt: avoid too much detail, stay up to date with new database features and REF, emphasis benefits to researchers, takes time to build interest in training, targeted sessions best, be flexible & adapt sessions to suit audience, be prepared for discussions about the validity and use of bibliometrics!
  • Stance taken: explain how to find information but leave it up to the researchers to decide if it is useful to them, including discussion of pros/cons of bibliometrics.
  • Types of questions asked:
  • How to pay for OA publishing?
  • Shouldn’t we just write controversial articles to up our citations?
  • What about highly cited, poor research?
  • My journals not indexed in WoS, how do I get citation info?
  • How to find book citation info?
  • What about self-citations? Will they be excluded from REF?
  • BMJ article said no observable citation advantage from OA publishing…
  • Can I import articles on in WoS into ResearcherID? (can do, but tricky)
  • What is a good H-Index to have?
  • Doesn’t H-Index just reflect length of career?
  • Where’s the best place to put an OA article?
  • I use a subject repository so why also use institutional repository?
  • I don’t want an early version of my work available…
  • What next in terms of training? – Continue with sessions, support subject librarians to run their own sessions, introduce Bristol Online Survey to collect feedback from attendees, respond to individual follow-up questions and do a separate presentation on OA publishing.

USTLG Lunch

Wiley Publishers: WIREs, Alexa Dugan.
Next up was our sponsor for the day Wiley talking about their new product:

  • WIREs = Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews.
  • Reference work meets journal review article –  a new concept in publishing.
  • Have been finding it difficult to find authors/researchers with enough time to devote to writing traditional reference works, especially as those works do not gain professional recognition .i.e. they are not indexed or cited.
  • WIREs is Wiley’s answer to this: invited content with high quality editorship, drawing on their research journal community ties (so like a reference work), but also managed to get them indexed in major databases and WoS so the authors can get recognition.
  • Each Review has a carefully thought out structure, which is kept up to date with a range of article types e.g. focus (news) articles, opinion pieces, basic reviews, advanced reviews etc.
  • Content is added every two months (so serial like a journal) & articles retain their title and DOIs for citation purposes.
  • One of their flagship titles: Climate Change Review has won several awards already.
  • FREE for first two years: wires.wiley.com
  • USTLG Conference

    Getting Interactive

Researcher@Library – becoming part of the research cycle, Katy Sidwell, University of Leeds.

  • Leeds, like many of us, have managed to get a certain amount of library training embedded or offered to PhD students, but what about Academics and other Researchers?
  • Started to think about how to support researchers so thought about the life cycle of a research project:
  • Ides (pre-funding) – Planning (finding application) – Action (research/life of grant) – Dissemination – Application (of research knowledge/transfer) – back to beginning of cycle.
  • They got us to think about how we all support these stages of the cycle & feedback (using post it notes – a good bit of interactivity to wake us all up!).
  • What they (and from the feedback, others might do) are:
  • Ideas = library collections, current awareness & literature search training.
  • Planning =  Identify funding sources ^ support research bids (though in Leeds this only happens in particular areas as it’s labour intensive and unscaleable).
  • Action = PhD workshops, bibliographic management, lit search support, data management advice, user behaviour research, friendly space for researchers.
  • Dissemination = RAE/REF support, etheses online, institutional repository, publications database.
  • Application = intellectual property advice (Business officer), market research for knowledge transfer e.g. patents.
  • Hard for researchers to know about training – where/how to promote?
  • Created a website for researchers to bring together the various things available to them (need user needs analysis to find out what to put there).
  • Researchers wanted a website that was not solely library resources/focused, not tutorial but advice that could be dipped into at appropriate time, simple navigation, no login but not really basic advice – appropriate to their level.
  • library.leeds.ac.uk/researcher
  • Work in progress – need to clarify purpose, look at navigation issues, obtain feedback and roll out across other faculties.
  • Where now? – created Library Researcher Support Group to continue the work and look at how it fits in with the new Vitae researcher development framework.

A good day all round. The presentations from the day can now be viewed at the USTLG site.

Posted in Meetings, Open Access, Research Support, Service Delivery, Subject Support, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Science Online

Posted by katiefraser on 5 September, 2010

Science Online conference bag

Science Online conference bag

Yesterday I visited Science Online London (the second day). It’s subtitle is ‘How is the web changing science?’ but it’s a general mishmash of people from various walks who share an enthusiasm for science and the web, talking about what they’re doing, and how they can share this enthusiasm.

For me, the breakout sessions were the most interesting portions, so I’ll summarise those briefly with some reflections on what I learnt from them.

Tracking researcher identity: pragmatics and ethics

The first session I attended was looking at an author ID system, ORCID. Such systems try to avoid confusion between academic authors with similar namesby assigning them a unique ID. I’m already signed up to Thomson Reuter’s ResearcherID system, to give an example. This is a more top down alternative to the bottom up approach where databases use algorithms to try to differentiate between different authors. I understand these algorithms are usually successful, but perhaps because of my limited academic output, I’ve found myself lumped in with other “K Fraser”s on more than one occasion.

ORCID aims to overcome some of the reluctance researchers have to sign up to proprietary author ID systems, and offer a central, open and transparent registry instead. The session came alive in the discussion of what such a system could do – such as create a far more nuanced record of who had contributed what to a paper than the traditional author order could capture – and the ethics behind it – should a researcher’s ID keep track of rebuttals of their work? There are a lot of positives to such a system from a librarian’s perspective (easier author search, simplified tracking down of academics’ papers for the institutional repository) so it was great to have a balanced discussion from a range of stakeholders.

What scientists want (and how to give it to them)

The second breakout session I attended was part of the ‘unconference’ (essentially some sessions which were crowdsourced from attendees the previous day). This session focused on ‘users’ (which turned out to be scientists). The most interesting bits for me were a discussion of what scientists wanted from technology (they want better publication and information gathering tools: librarians take note) and one slightly awkward but fascinating section in which a marketing specialist tried to get the scientists to identify the best way to market to them.

Obviously I had my ears open for the marketing questions, as sometimes it’s hard for the library to ‘sell’ services to academics. The main message was that scientists will come and look for information as and when they need it, and so when they do come looking, you’d better be i) easy to find and ii) prepared with a pitch and some examples of how great your services are. I’m currently mulling over ways to achieve these two things as a librarian: suggestions welcome!

The “broken publishing system”: whose responsibility is it?

The last session I attended was ostensibly a discussion of open access publishing, but centred mostly on impact factors, a way of recording how widely read journal are, at the title level. Discussions with Nancy, our library bibliometrician have already highlighted to me that judging a paper by which journal it’s in is a flawed idea, but I was surprised to hear that no one in the room – publishers included – thought they were useful or valid. Somehow impact factors have been seized as a key evaluation metric, and everyone is only interested in them to the extent that others are using them to evaluate their output!

All were agreed that something should be done to avoid this focus on impact factors, but disagreement centred on whether small acts of protest at this system (opting out, voting with your feet) or a coordinated protest (demanding an overhaul of the system at the highest levels) were needed. Again, suggestions for action welcome!

Conclusions

Overall, this was an interesting conference to attend, and I felt I learnt a lot about how scientists view the services on offer to them. Oddly, however, I think maybe I’d be more comfortable presenting at it if I attended again: a lot of the sessions were based on the assumption that the audience was composed of scientists, and I felt like more like an observer than a participant in the discussion sometimes. However, participant observation is a time-honoured way of getting to know a culture better, and I’m sure I’ll use my observations to help inform the library’s development of services over the next year: maybe with something new to contribute to the discussion of scientists online at the end.

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

The complexities of Chemical Information

Posted by katiefraser on 29 June, 2010

Royal Chemistry Society London headquartersIn May I visited the London headquarters of the Royal Chemistry Society in Burlington House to attend an event entitled ‘Chemical Information for the Chemist and Non-Chemist’. As I’m new to the world of Chemical Information (albeit armed with my knowledge of information resources and an A level in Chemistry) I’d been looking out for a session to expand my knowledge and this seemed perfect. For those interested, the slides are available on the CICAG (Chemical Information and Computer Applications Group) website – just click on ‘previous meetings’, but here I wanted to talk a little bit about what I learnt about chemical information in general at the event.

Since I started getting up to speed with Chemical Information resources I’ve been fascinated by the unique search mechanism of molecular structure. The majority of chemistry-focused databases cross-reference the literature with  molecular structures.. This means you can draw a molecule, and then search for articles referring to it. As David Walsh (whose presentation has informed much of my thoughts in this particular post) noted at the event, the naming of chemicals changes constantly according to fashion, the property of the chemical that a particular scientists wants to emphasise, and according to commercial concerns (for example, using trade names, or local laboratory numbers). Drawing the chemical allows you to by-pass a large number of these problems.

Molecular structure of phenylethylamine, used under Creative  Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/

Molecular structure of phenylethylamine, used under Creative Commons licence, courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/

This seems like  the perfect search tool! Surely a mechanism allowing such exact searching means that the core information professional’s toolkit – define your keywords, perform the search, alter keywords, perform your search, iterate until satisfied or exhausted – seems almost redundant? Well, unfortunately for simplicity, but luckily for making information professionals feel useful, this isn’t the case. A lot of the time there’s reason to search for something that’s either more or less specific than a molecular structure.

For example, when patents are registered for chemicals they usually use something known as the Markush structure – a molecular diagram which records certain key aspects of a compound, but allows for certain points on that structure to be substituted by a variety of different sub-structures. This indicates that a lot of the time one exact molecular structure can be too specific. On the other hand, sometimes a molecular diagram is not specific enough. For example, the stereochemistry studies at the arrangement of atoms within a compound. When compounds with the same molecular structure are arranged differently, this can give two apparently identical compounds different chemical and physical properties.

RSC newsletters inside Burlington HouseThese different degrees of specificity have interesting implications for the type of keyword generation that needs to happen in searching for chemical information. In a lot of subject areas I’d advise looking to see what’s available in the literature before deciding how specific to be in search terms: in a little studied area you tend to go quite wide and gather in a lot of related literature; in a widely studied area you can afford to be quite specific. However, in chemical information you can define up-front whether you’re interested  in a wide group of compounds or just a very specific isomer and use this to inform your search. The downside being that the beautifully simple molecular structure search isn’t always the one you want.

Over the summer I’ll be thinking more about how the different kinds of information used in Chemistry affect the way it can be taught, and learning more about the different kinds of notation that are used. I’d highly recommend looking at David Walsh’s slides, entitled ‘What Makes Chemical Information Different?’ from the event to get a good overview of many of the different types of notation used. However, I think cramming all of these into a one hour session might make students cry!

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Citing data

Posted by knockels on 22 June, 2010

Possibly two posts in one day breaks a blogging convention, but here is the second thing from Innovations in Reference Management 2, while I am thinking about it!  

Plenty to think about in Kevin Ashley’s talk about citing data.    In addition to talking about how to cite it, Kevin spent some time persuading us (if we needed to be persuaded) that we needed to care about data and its use.   I thought of  (my favourite!) critical appraisal.

If you have the underlying data, it makes it easier to see where authors have been selective, or used a particular technique to make the data “prove” something or other.   It adds new dimensions to the evaluation of a paper, or a figure or table in a paper.   Kevin’s examples included a survey that said that “nine out of ten cats preferred the Open University”, but where an examination of the underlying data showed that you could only say this if you sorted the data in a particular way.     There are all the ruses outlined in books like “How to lie with statistics”, and being aware of those ruses is part of critical appraisal, but having the data adds a new dimension to this.

Kevin also gave some instances of where data might be valuable on its own, without any accompanying papers.  A researcher might be interested in the data, and not the story being told about it by one particular person or group:

  • Researchers in one area might be able to use data gathered by others for other purposes;
  • Having access to all the separate data sets relating to, say, the distribution of individual species, might lead to work on biodiversity on a larger scale;
  • Having access to all the separate data sets on a subject could lead to being able to identify where the gaps are.

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USTLG Spring Meeting Redux (Morning)

Posted by selinalock on 14 May, 2010

Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House

Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House. Photo by Matt_Fom_London via Flickr Creative Commons.

Gareth had already blogged about this event, but here’s my take on it too.

Theme for the morning: Go to the users, wherever they are online.

Taking your service to scientists: embedding subject-specific resources within VLEs. Jon Fletcher. Nottingham Trent University.

  • Talked about embedding library resources & links into the VLE so student “don’t have to remember where to go” to get stuff. Student feedback suggested that they often forget how to use resources between years/terms/f2f sessions.
  • University mandate that all courses should have a VLE site.
  • Includes links to catalogue, metalib, referencing guidelines, library homepage etc in all science courses.
  • 5 step guide to embedding: Consult/design resources using a team approach, get permission/access to VLE course, embed resources, consider sustainability & update when needed.
  • Often need to ‘sell’ the resources/need to embed to the academics, but once in a few courses then get a snowball effect due to good student & course team feedback.
  • Embeds all his teaching resources as well as core library resources.
  • Sustainability: think about time/workload required, timescales and the tools needed. E.g. previous html editor wasn’t up to the job so now uses Wimbacreate. There approach is to use a repository and link all courses to one version of core resources page so easily updated in one place by more than one person.
  • Updating: design so it only needs updating once or twice a year.
  • This initiative has led to more visibility, embedding of f2f sessions, more liaison with academics and more enquiries.
  • Currently a trial and only being done by Science team.
  • Just about to start using TalisAspire for reading lists.
  • Approx 1-2 weeks of time needed to build resources & embed them.
  • Moved subject-based library pages within the VLE and linked out to other types of library pages.
  • Stats on what is being accessed via the VLE.

MyLibrary – building a Library dashboard application. Mark Gavillet. University of Newcastle

  • Creating a MyLibrary dashboard app using a customisable online tool (JQuery UI). A project which will go live for students to trial in new academic year.
  • App draws info from various places e.g. library systems, shibboleth (for authentication, google etc.
  • Tracks what resources are being used.
  • Wanted to identify 80% of ‘start’ points for 80% of tasks that 80% of users do 80% of the time by asking 130 students where they look for resources.
  • Student feedback was that there start points for university work/resources were google, OPAC, reading list, Blackboard VLE, databases, library homepage or student homepage (in that order of preference).
  • The first place they go when sitting at a university PC: Uni email, Google, Blackboard, Facebook.
  • Key library services: ejournals, renew books, search resources.
  • They do not use the library homepage as anything other than a gateway & don’t read library news.
  • Happy to use search tools but unsure of finding the right search tools in the first place.
  • customer journey mapping of tasks such as finding an article form a reading list showed very convoluted routes to get there! Hope MyLibrary tool will help get them there quicker.
  • Can put MyLibrary button in variety of places they use frequently such as Facebook and VLE.
  • MyLibrary tool tabs for modules, resources, announcements, eResources/eJournals, MyItems(loans) & more.
  • eResources pulled from subject categories on Metalib.
  • eJournals via SFX (can search & choose favourites).
  • MyItems/MyRecord from Aleph library system & can renew via tool.
  • Opening hours & events from Library Google calendars
  • TOCs from JISC tic TOCs service.
  • GO TO WHERE THE USERS ARE, rather than expecting them to come to the library homepage. If the tool is successful then they will re-evaluate the role of the library homepage.
  • Several months work and development.

RSC Publishing beta – Have your say…Richard Blount and Louise Peck, Royal Society of Chemistry

Got a quick overview of the new RSC interface and they are very keen for librarian feedback. Either via their survey or as beta testers. Quick look at ChemSpider, an excellent, free chemical structure resource.

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USTLG Spring Meeting (May 2010)

Posted by gazjjohnson on 12 May, 2010

Wordle from tweets about the dayMay is the month where I seem to be spending a lot of time on trains to London (not counting the meeting at CILIP I had to send apologies for last week). Today was the first of these when myself and Selina travelled down to attend the University Science and Technology Librarians Group spring meeting. Not that I’m pretending I’m still a subject librarian, rather I was invited there to give a short talk about getting the most out of blogging and microblogging.

After the day was introduced by long time friend and colleague Moria Bent (Newcastle) the first session of the day kicked off. What follow are my notes on the four talks.  Hopefully there will be some more notes in a future post from Selina, so you can get her views of the day’s highlights as well.

Jon Fletcher, Nottingham Trent University
Embedding resources into the curriculum via a VLE (for scientists).
Becoming embedded has become somewhat of a mantra at NTU – noted could run as many training sessions as you like, but this doesn’t mean they engage. Hence taking their resources to where the students are spending more time on the VLE. Their educational resources repository (Nottingham Trent Online Workspace, now.ntu.ac.uk). There is a block of library resources and training materials on this system. Referenced from all their course pages that relate to science.

Jon’s 5 step guide to embedding resources on the VLE

  1. Consult/design
    1. Talk to the students
    2. What would they find useful
    3. What formats would work
    4. Avoid overlap of effort
  2. Get permission and access
    1. Need rights to edit, otherwise academic might not do what you expect them too.
    2. Resources can be embedded by academics
    3. Need to sell what you do and be realistic.
  3. Embed resources
    1. Plan – get an idea of time scale, workload and commitment
    2. Work with your academic stakeholders and deliver according to your planned schedule, or else they won’t be impressed.
    3. Need to consider longer term – how will you maintain and update resources once live? NTU’s tech allows them to make global changes.
    4. Expect it to take longer than you think
  4. Sustainability
  5. What’s next
    1. Always consider next iterations – need to revise and update, preferably as part of an ongoing cycle.
    2. Keep items up to date.

Doing this has helped make the library (and Jon) more visible to the academics.

Royal Society of Chemistry Library - we didn't get to look in here.MyLibrary: building a library dashboard application
Mark Galvillet, Newcastle

An open source web resource that can be downloaded and customised by anyone. It draws information from various different sources. MyLibrary is built on the back of analysing overlong customer journeys to resources, students should be able to access all the resources from a single point of access without having to go through multiple intermediary stages. Also interfaces with the library catalogue so can access your record, renew books etc. Provides a news feed as well, although that is under review. Calender for opening hours and events etc, driven by Google calendar, is also included. In many regards MyLibrary pretty much provides a single point of access to all of a student’s needs. While for the academic there may be a requirement for a more sophisticated resource, this was fairly impressive and doubtless would be well received by the student body.

RSC Publishing Beta – have your say
Richard Blount & Louise Peck, RSC

Talked about RSC Publishing Beta website for their hosted journals, ebooks and databases. Customisable for each user. Chem Spider.

Advocating Professional Social Networking to Academics
Paula Anne Beasley & Linda Norbury, University of Birmingham

Training sessions to library staff to bring them up to speed on the basics of Web 2.0 so they can use it or not based on their own experiences! Made them think about what the academics needs were with respect to these resources, and if there was a need to train them. Facilitated training in a supporting environment, so people didn’t feel foolish and where they could see the clear benefits of producing them. Surveyed their college staff via email – free-text response. Fewer responses, but more dialogue from those who did respond.  Aimed to run sessions for 25 people, at least that was how many they anticipated.

Gareth J Johnson
Do Librarians Dream of Electric Tweets?

And that was my day in London. Next up, the RSP Advocacy Workshop!

Posted in Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies, Wider profession | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Open Science

Posted by selinalock on 9 June, 2009

Just wanted to recommend this article to any science librarians out there:

Doing science in the open

by Michael Nielsen

A excellent distillation of the barriers facing open science. Issues such as a lack of trust infrastructure and incentives and a lack of appropriate collaborative/science network tools. Plus the fact that the current grant and journal system, which was initially set-up to ensure scientific discoveries were shared, is now stopping people from sharing their research in the more efficient ways offered by the web.

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

Scientific biographies

Posted by knockels on 1 June, 2009

I’m currently reading Harold Varmus’ autobiographical memoir “The art and politics of science” (1).  Varmus was director of the NIH, was heavily involved in PubMed Central and more recently in the Public Library of Science venture.

His chapter on access to the scientific literature is interesting – he became an open access “convert” when someone drew his attention to arXiv, and recalls at least one occasion when he could not access online something he had written.  

But the thing I wanted to blog briefly about is something else.   There are chapters that describe his medical research (he was awarded a share of the the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989 for his discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes).   They do assume a level of happiness with reading science, but not an intense familiarity with his field, and so I found them written in a way that I could follow, and in a more narrative way than a textbook.   And so perhaps there is a role for memoirs and (auto) biographies in broadening my knowledge of the fields I work to support.     It would be interesting to see if other memoirs are the same – Varmus, it ought to be noted, studied literature before he studied medicine.

(1) Varmus H. The art and politics of science. New York, Norton, 2009, if you want a librarian-ly reference!

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All new in the Galaxy Zoo

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 February, 2009

I was going to blog about my trip to Aber over the last two days, but then I had a more exciting email (sorry repository world) – Galaxy Zoo, my favourite collaborative astrophysics project has just launched Galaxy Zoo 2.  Both myself and my other half spent many happy hours with the first version classifying galaxies observed from the Sloan Deep Sky images.  It is curiously addictive, and more importantly – it’s for SCIENCE!

And did I mention you didn’t need to be an astrophysics specialist or former image analysis scientist to take part?  And considering how natural classification comes to most librarians, you’d be mad to miss it.  Well worth a look, and certainly more than a little soothing to do in those five minutes between reinventing Library 2.0 or solving the world’s information literacy challenges!

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