8 things for a research support service spring clean

166281571At this time of year, many of us are either doing a spring clean or planning one.
A good spring clean means dedicating some time to take a really good look at your prized possessions and what feels like home. Why not dedicate a week to looking at what you do in the area of research support, and how you do it with your staff?
Some services or products you’ll dust off, spruce up, and even find a better place for. Others on the other hand, you’ll let go of as a lot has accumulated over the years. This will make new space for other things.

Look at some of the world’s library research support trends and gems for inspiration to develop your service offering.
The below describes a selection of services from a study into today’s research support service offering in over 80 academic libraries from across the world. For more information, see LIBREVE.

Research support services have been grouped into 8 areas:

  1. Facilitating access to knowledge
    Academic libraries are increasingly focussing on more specific user groups with challenges of their own when designing a range of new services. For example, they are increasingly helping build the research and information literacy skillsets of their young researchers or are optimising access to their resources for readers with disabilities. Libraries are exploring further ways to increase service choice, relevance and quality by providing access to their collections and services to external user groups such as local businesses, health institutions, and alumni. At the same time, they are experimenting with new revenue models to supplement library funds.
    As far as responding to new technologies is concerned, libraries are increasingly focussing on bringing services 24/7 to the mobile researcher. Providing VPN or WIFI access, developing apps and web service interfaces to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones help increase access to digital library services 24/7. Some libraries are also starting to lend out tablets to researchers and some students.
    Library reference has also transformed in the age of immediate information gratification and the mobile phone: The Ask A Librarian service seems to be becoming more and more standard and direct mobile/cell texting to librarians is also rising.

  2. Keeping researchers up-to-date158721899
    Academic libraries are increasingly providing researchers with pre-packaged, quality, meaningful and current content through current awareness services. Such services are on the increase and range from RSS feeds on new arrivals to articles or books in various research domains to research grant updates. Libraries are also embracing social and multi-media to inform and share using twitter, Facebook, bookmarking tools, and audio, video for example by informing on library or research domain news with these channels, or by providing social media training.

  3. Providing facilities for collaboration
    In the area of research collaboration, some libraries are providing both virtual and physical spaces where young academics can come together and share ideas and results. Online collaboration, however, is the main focus where libraries are increasingly providing local Virtual Research Environment infrastructures for research groups. On a lower level, they also showcase tool directories to enable better international virtual collaboration to support collaborative research for example.

  4. Developing the researcher’s skill-set
    Information literacy activities have been with academic libraries for years. Today, in addition to this, helping young researchers in their research skills development is gaining ground. Research skills development services can range from classic information literacy webinars to digital media literacy support for video and sound production to presentation skills or career support for young researchers.
    Academic integrity is also increasingly a topic of importance where libraries are playing new roles providing more guidance, activities and tools to safeguard the institution’s academic name. This can range from data management activities to plagiarism identification or prevention.

  5. Supplying a technical infrastructure162847313
    Providing a strong technical infrastructure is a pre-requisite for today’s digital library. Academic libraries and IT are increasingly providing WIFI and VPN to make online information and service access as effortless as possible. In addition some academic libraries and their IT partners offer storage solutions for their researchers, be this for remote work, broader collaboration or for research data specifically. Some of these libraries are also collaborating with high-performance computing centres to support IT-heavy research.
    Furthermore, experimentation is starting in providing APIs to encourage the broader re-use of collection metadata (catalogue or IRs) or for further access to circulation services.

  6. Providing funding & project support
    Some academic libraries are also supporting the researcher in the process of research funding acquisition. These services range from lists of funder databases and websites to research grant updates or even courses on research proposal writing.

  7. Increasing international visibility
    The majority of today’s research support services support the institution and researcher in making their work more visible. Academic libraries provide services in both the areas of scientific writing and dissemination or publishing. Support in both writing and citing can range from literature review support to hosting publisher writing events to providing academic English writing skills lessons.
    As regards publishing, many institutions are making it policy to contribute to the open movement by offering more in the areas of Open Access publication, open data, open education resources and APIs to increase access to their institution’s academic results. As regards OA publishing, libraries are increasingly managing new OA funds or publisher APCs, and providing guidance and expert advice in the area of IPR. Others are working together with university presses or becoming them themselves experimenting with new publishing models or supporting research communities in creating new or improved OA journals or books or offering on-demand publishing. Some libraries even go one step further to facilitate in the area of commercialising research. iStock_000002967687Small
    There has been a boom in the provision of new research data infrastructures and services (from small to big data) supporting the researcher across the research data lifecycle from curation, analysis, planning, publishing to preservation.
    Another growth in activities in this area can be found in the area of metrics services ranging from ranking directories, to repository stats to a range of bibliometric services and tools.
    Selected libraries help bright sparks with entrepreneurship and start-up advice in collaboration with business.

  8. Archiving & preserving research
    As part of securing access to research in years to come, academic libraries are increasingly assigning DOIs to documents or data and ORCIDs to research staff. Some libraries are also interestingly starting to use crowd-sourcing to help describe their special collections.

This was a snapshot of some of the services on offer at academic libraries in USA, Canada, Asia, Europe and Australia. If you’d like to

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