Scholarly publication is a pervasive goal across the academic community. With institutions looking to raise their rankings, faculty determined to make tenure, and researchers under pressure to differentiate themselves, it’s an increasingly competitive environment and the need to publish innovative research is as strong as ever.
But while researchers are the experts in their areas of study, they are often not as well versed in the process of publication itself. From developing a grant application and selecting where to publish, to manuscript submission and peer review, many researchers lack formal training in the skills needed to become published authors.
Utilizing an increasingly diverse suite of research services, librarians are investing their time, budget and expertise in providing the support programs that are needed to both fill critical gaps in the researcher’s toolset, and meet the bottom line of core institutional goals.
At this year’s Charleston Conference, we brought together a diverse panel of library leaders to discuss how their libraries are proactively developing, expanding and promoting their research services in support of these critical outcomes.
“This fills a gap in our collections, and the faculty asked for it.”
As Assistant Dean for Collection Management and Scholarly Communications at University of North Carolina Greensboro, Beth Bernhardt is always looking to invest in new resources that meet the widest range of faculty and researcher needs possible.
That’s why she’s recently selected resources that help researchers with various aspects of the publishing process like APA Style Central, Wiley Researcher Academy, Sage Research Methods, Zotero and others that are widely used by researchers and offer multidisciplinary value; allowing the library to “get the biggest bang for its buck.”
“This is something we’ve really been needing.”
If you’re a librarian, this kind of faculty feedback that Beth and her library received from a workshop on Wiley Researcher Academy is exactly the kind of thing you want to hear. But “ongoing outreach” is key to these programs, whether they’re purchased from a vendor or grown from within.
A screenshot of UNC’s website advertises the plethora of library services available to support faculty and student research—from formal instruction and individual consultations to mentoring programs, orientations and writing boot camps. But collaborating with faculty and other partners on campus like the Teaching and Learning Center, the Office of Research and Engagement, the School of Nursing and the Graduate School has been key, as Beth and the UNC Greensboro Library have been able to increase the impact of research services and successfully generate awareness and engagement.
“Right now, we’re trying to figure out an ecosystem for these services.”
Similarly, Kate McCready, Director of Content Services at the University of Minnesota, explained the various ways in which the librarians at her institution are also supporting author needs through three key branches: research services, instruction and production services.
Each robust service area caters to different points in the research lifecycle, from consultations with liaisons and systematic reviews to grant funding workshops, data management training, and counsel on where to publish.
But with the vast array of programs and services now available to student and faculty researchers, how are they responding to and utilizing library resources? Communication is key here, and there needs to be a consistency in approach.
“We need to start thinking about this as author services as a whole,” McCready expanded, “by making sure we have a good referral network inside.”
While there’s no shortage of library support, Kate also describes the difficulty of executing and marketing all these services at scale. With several physical library locations and a student body of over 50,000, figuring out a sustainable ecosystem for these services is a priority to ensure its continued success.
“How does a library beginning on its back foot propel itself forward?”
For some institutions, the path forward is still being mapped out. George Stachokas, Electronic Resources Librarian at Auburn University, reflected on his library’s recent growth and the strategic imperatives that are driving change.
With a new provost, a commitment to attract new faculty to campus, and a goal of raising Auburn’s rank from an R2 to an R1 institution, there is a push to increase research in STEM, Agriculture and Allied Health Services. As a result, librarians are working to improve collection analysis, identify gaps in information resources and services and drive down the costs for all resources and tools for students.
Current plans range from creating a new data management librarian position and hosting research data management workshops to promoting the ORCiD ID and the ongoing use of institutional repositories. New initiatives are also underway, including investigation of new analytic capabilities, collaboration with internal and external partners to identify long-term trends in research productivity and the creation of teams of librarians to liaise on these issues.
A trend to watch
If this year’s Charleston Conference was any indication, libraries will continue to proactively develop and scale their research services to support the growing need for awareness and training in scholarly communications. And, as researchers increasingly turn to their libraries for publication support, they can expect to not only benefit their institutions and careers, but also to improve the quality of research available to the world.
Photo credit: Claire O'Neill