Tag Archives: Training

Perspectives on the Open future

‘More cash, more clarity and don’t make this compulsory’ is the take home message from a recent workshop held with Cambridge researchers on the question of Open Research.

The recent session, called “An Open Future? How Cambridge is Responding to Challenges in the Open Landscape” was with a group of new Cambridge lecturers at a seminar organized by Pathways in Higher Education Practice. This event  offered us an opportunity to go beyond the usual information we provide in our training workshops*.

This session provided a unique opportunity to speak with researchers from various disciplines further along in their career who already had a basic knowledge of Open Access and Research Data sharing requirements. This meant we were able to have more of an informed discussion rather than a lecture and we wanted to hear what they thought about Open Research.

(* The OSC is often asked to provide training on all things Open Research. Generally our training is focused on PhD students and early career researchers. We create our PowerPoint slides that explain the benefits of Open Access, the necessity of a good Data Management Plan or how to promote your research through social media (all of which are freely available here). We try to make these sessions as interactive as possible.)

Quiz Time

The session started by laying out how the current academic publishing model works. Basically, researchers submit their latest findings to a journal for FREE, peer reviewers review the paper for FREE, editors oversee the journal for FREE and the publishers format the article then turn around and charge libraries exorbitant subscription fees (yep, that about sums it up). This got a good laugh from the audience.

So our first activity was a short quiz. We were interested to know if researchers knew how much things cost. We asked them a set of questions:

  1. How much do you think we pay in subscription costs every year?
  2. What’s the average APC?
  3. How many papers were made gold OA and had at least one Cambridge author on it in 2016?

There was a lot of debate among the groups. Some of the answers were wildly overestimated (one researcher suggested £50 million GBP for subscriptions per year), others were quite low.

What are people sharing?

For our next activity, we wanted to know what they were already sharing and what tools they were using to share. We presented each table with a Venn diagram and a bunch of post-its:

Unsurprisingly, the ‘Publication’ circle had the most post-its. Answers included tools such as ArXiv, ResearchGate, and Academia.edu as well as personal websites and Facebook. There were also mentions of Cambridge Open Access and the Departmental Libraries. Interestingly a few noted that they made their work available to researchers through personal contact such as email requests.

There were a few post-its in the ‘Data’ circle describing what tools they used to deposit, such as university repositories and Zenodo.

The ‘Other’ category mostly talked about sharing code and software through github; although, one lecturer noted free workshops they offered. There was only one post-it that made it into the centre and that was for “webpage”. For the future, it may be interesting to know which discipline the researchers were from when they were posting because this theme came up quite a few times during the discussions.

When are people prepared to share?

The second activity involved lots of sticky dots and large pieces of paper. The participants were asked if they were comfortable sharing different aspects of their research at different stages in the research lifecycle. Each sheet was laid out in a grid as follows:

All of the researchers were asked to stick dots in the grid. The results were interesting. Most researchers were happy to share the published version of their paper, but a large number were uncomfortable sharing their pre-print or submitted version. There were only two dots in the “yes” square to share pre-prints. During the discussion it was apparent that this was probably down to the culture of the discipline where one physics researcher said it was part of the process versus one of the lecturers from English who disliked having more than one version of her paper available to read. The Book Chapter had similar results.

Data and Data Management Plans were all over the place. There were quite a few dots in the ‘Not sure’ squares. Most were happy to share data at the time of publication or at the end of the project. For the Data Management Plans it was evenly split between ‘yes’ to sharing at the end of the project versus ‘not sure’. No one wanted to share their DMP at the start of the project. There was some confusion among researchers (mostly from the humanities) who felt they didn’t have any data and therefore there was nothing to share.

The majority of the researchers were unenthusiastic about sharing their Grant Applications or Grey literature at any stage. For Grant Applications the overall feeling was that if the grant was successful then researchers didn’t want to share their methodology. If the grant was unsuccessful, they were reluctant to share their failures or they planned to submit to another granting agency. Most lecturers in the room agreed that they were fine sharing an abstract of their grant awards (which many funders post on their website).

As for Grey Literature which we defined as working papers or opinion papers, no one wanted to share anything that could be considered unfinished or not well thought out. One member of the law faculty said that if they had produced any grey literature worth sharing, then they would publish it in a journal. Moreover, it could be detrimental to their career if they shared anything that wasn’t well-researched and presented.

More money please

To finish up the session, we asked researchers what more could the University be doing to promote Open Research. Not surprisingly most people were resistant to any University mandate telling them what to do. In addition, they were strongly against any Open Research requirements being tied in with HR practices like promotions. The researchers supported discipline specific requirements for Open Research.

Clearer instructions from the University and from funders of what is required of researchers was also desired. Having a myriad of policies is quite confusing and burdensome for researchers who already feel pressured to publish. In the end, most said that if the University would pay, then they would be happy to share their published work.

Published 4 April 2018
Written by Katie Hughes
Creative Commons License

Developing the staff of the future: training librarians in 2017

2017 was an exciting year for training our library community. As well as continuing to cover the basics of research support, the OSC was able to introduce new topics and new methods of delivery to ensure that Cambridge library staff have all the information they need to support the research community. In this blog post our Research Support Skills Coordinator Claire Sewell reflects on the successes of the past year and her plans to make 2018 even better.

This time last year I was reflecting on my first full year in my role, having started in November 2015. After more than two years in the role some things have remained constant but there have also been a great many changes in training, so it seemed like a good idea to stop and reflect again.

The OSC runs two parallel professional development schemes for library staff: Supporting Researchers in the 21st Century and the Research Support Ambassador Programme. Supporting Researchers is open to all library staff and offers a regular programme of training in areas related to research support throughout the year. The Research Support Ambassadors programme is a more intensive programme which runs every summer and is designed to create a library workforce who feel confident in helping researchers with their queries.

Supporting Researchers in the 21st Century

The world of the academic library is changing and it’s important that institutions work to equip the staff with the knowledge they need to take advantage of these changes. The Supporting Researchers programme offers a range of training opportunities from general talks to in-depth workshops which are designed to help staff keep on top of the rapidly changing world of scholarly communication.

In 2017 we ran twenty-three training events catering to the needs of over four hundred staff. In addition to covering some of the expected areas such as Open Access and Research Data Management we looked at some new areas such as Text and Data Mining and predatory publishing. These sessions proved to be a hit with attendees, with 70% of those attending rating the sessions as ‘excellent’. They were also enthusiastic in their feedback:

Excellent session on predatory publishers. We’ve started to get a lot of questions in this area and knowing more about it came at the perfect time

It was really engaging and a perfect introduction to the topic. I only had a vague idea at the outset as to what predatory publishing is but by the end of it I felt really well-informed (and in a short space of time!)

In order to help staff plan their time and attendance we experimented with forming sessions into mini programmes which resulted in our Librarian Toolkit sessions on Helping Researchers Publish and Open Access. This seemed to be successful so it’s something we’ll be continuing in 2018. By far our most successful session was How to Spot a Predatory Publisher, which was delivered in direct response to demand from staff who were getting a lot of questions from their users on the topic. It was so successful that we’ve gone on to produce some local guidance and a webinar which has over 300 views to date.

Research Support Ambassador Programme

In 2017 the Research Ambassador Programme ran from August to October and attracted eighteen participants from across colleges, departments and the University Library. We tried something a little different this year by making most of the training available online. Librarians are notoriously busy people and coupling this with summer holidays and the introduction of a new library management system meant that it would have been impractical to schedule in a host of face-to-face sessions. The initial introductory workshop ran as an in-person session to allow Ambassadors to meet each other and put faces to names but all other sessions were delivered as interactive webinars.

Although formal feedback is still being collated, initial responses have been positive:

I feel much more confident now that I have a good overview of all the issues confronting researchers and I will be able to know how to train researchers and who to refer them to for more information

Thanks for the programme. The content was really interesting and delivering via webinar was helpful as I didn’t have to leave my desk. I feel much more confident in dealing with researcher questions now.

Now that we have three cohorts of past Research Ambassadors in Cambridge it’s time to expand the programme for those still wishing to be involved. It’s hoped that this will create a community of research support librarians and strengthen it into the future as new staff take part in the programme.

Webinars

Introducing a new training format is always a challenge but in the case of OSC webinars it’s one where the hard work has paid off. Many library staff have commented over the past two years that although they would like to attend training session they can’t due to issues with library staffing and other commitments. Repeating sessions and varied scheduling helps to some extent but we felt that more could be done. Having attended many webinars myself I knew they were a great way to attend training without having to leave my desk, especially if recordings could be accessed at a later date.

Over the course of 2017 the OSC delivered a total of nine webinars for library staff. Feedback on the format from library staff was positive:

Working in a small Library where most staff are part time makes it difficult to get out of the Library to attend training so being able to take part online was great.

I really enjoy the ability to listen back at a convenient time; I often cannot leave the library at short notice due to lack of cover, or unforeseeable research enquiries that overrun and unfortunately take precedence over courses etc.

Nice and flexible – can watch from anywhere!

As a result of this success, the webinar format is now being used for additional training for both the research community and an audience beyond Cambridge.

Moving beyond Cambridge

It’s also been a busy year for training library staff outside Cambridge. In May I went to talk to CPD25, the staff development programme of the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries on Making the Modern Academic Librarian and gave a presentation on the Librarian as Researcher to CILIP in Kent in November. I was also lucky enough to visit Salzberg to talk about the skills librarians can bring to the support of Text and Data Mining. The OSC has also been involved in talking to other interested stakeholders about the wider need for research support training for library staff which has led to some exciting progress.

We’ve also been busy talking about Cambridge initiatives to the wider world. In April 2017 I went to LILAC – the major information literacy conference for librarians – in Swansea and gave three presentation including a poster on the Supporting Researchers in the 21st Century programme, a presentation on the Research Support Ambassador programme and a workshop on Engaging Students with Research Data Management. This has led to a wider interest in these programmes and the issue of research support training more widely.

Perhaps the biggest impact we’ve had has been the publication of an article on the Research Support Ambassador Programme in the New Review of Academic Librarianship. To date this has had over two thousand views and was the most read article published in the journal in 2017. I was very excited to discover this week that it has its first citation and that it has been chosen to receive a cartoon abstract as part of the launch of the publisher’s new librarian platform this year. Lots to look forward to!

Future plans

So, what next? Plans for the Research Support Ambassadors are moving forward and we have several interesting sessions lined up for our librarians already. There has also been a lot of interest in offering training to a wider audience starting with a session on Moving Into Research Support in February and more to come. Hopefully there will also be more publications in the future and of course updates on this blog. The OSC is very much looking forward to working with our library community throughout 2018 and beyond to bring them more exciting training opportunities.

Published 26 January 2018
Written by Claire Sewell
Creative Commons License

Plans for scholarly communication professional development

Well now there is a plan. The second meeting of the Scholarly Communication Professional Development Group was held on 9 October in the Jisc offices in London. This followed on from the first meeting in June about which there is a blog. The attendance list is again at the end of this blog.

The group has agreed we need to look at four main areas:

  • Addressing the need for inclusion of scholarly communication in academic library degree courses
  • Mapping scholarly communication competencies against training provision options
  • Creating a self assessment tool to help individuals decide if scholarly communication is for them
  • Costing out ‘on the job training’ as an option

What are the competencies in scholarly communication?

The group discussed the types of people in scholarly communication, noting that scholarly communication is not a traditional research support role either within research administration or in libraries. Working in scholarly communication requires the ability to present ideas and policies that are not always accepted or embraced by the research community.

The group agreed it would be helpful to identify what a successful scholarly communication person looks like – identifying the nature of the role, the types of skill sets and what the successful attributes are. The group has identified several examples of sets of competencies in the broad area of ‘scholarly communication’:

The group agreed it would be useful to review the NASIG Competencies and see if they map to the UK situation and to ask NASIG about how they are rolling it out across the US.

The end game that we are trying to get to is a suite of training products at various levels that as a community is going to make a difference to the roles we are recruiting.  We agreed it would be useful to explore how these frameworks relate to the various existing professional frameworks, such as CILIP, ARMA and Vitae. 

The approach is asking people: ‘Do you have a skills gap?’ rather than: ‘Do you (or your staff) need training?’. It would be helpful then, to develop a self assessment tool to allow people to judge their own competencies against the NASIG or COAR set (or an adaptation of these). The plan is to map the competencies against training provision options. 

Audiences

We have two audiences in terms of professional training in scholarly communication:

  1. New people coming into the profession – the initial training that occurs in library schools.
  2. Those people already in a research support environment who are taking on scholarly communication roles. 

The group also discussed scope. It would be helpful to consider how many people across the UK are affected by the need for support and training.

Another issue is qualifications over skills – there are people who are working in administrative roles who have expanded their skills but don’t necessarily have a qualification. Some libraries are looking at weighting past experience higher over qualifications. 

There needs to be a sense of equity if we were to introduce new requirements. While large research intensive institutions can afford professional development, in some places there is one person who has to do the scholarly communication functions as only part of their job – they are isolated and they don’t have funds for training. An option could be that if a training provision is to be ‘compliant’ with this group then it must allow some kind of free online training.

Initial training in library schools

As was discussed the previous time the group met, there is a problem in that library schools do not seem to be preparing graduates adequately for work in scholarly communication. Even the small number of graduates who have had some teaching in this area are not necessarily ready to hit the ground running and still need further development. The group agreed the sector needs to define how we skill library graduates for this detailed and complex area.

One idea that arose in the discussion was the suggestion we engage with library schools at their own conferences, perhaps asking to have a debate to ask them what they think they are doing to meet this need. 

The next conference of the library schools Association of Library and Information Science Educators is 6-9 February 2018 in Denver. Closer to home, iConference 2018 will be 25-28 March and will be jointly hosted by the UK’s University of Sheffield’s Information School and the iSchool at Northumbria. However, when we considered the conference options it became clear that this would not necessarily work, the focus of these conferences is academic focus, not practitioner or case studies. This might point to the source of some of the challenges we see in this space.

One of the questions was: what is really different now to the way it was 10-20 years ago? We need to survey people who are one or two years out from their qualifications.

Suggestions to address this issue included:

  • Identify which library schools are running a strand on academic librarianship and what their curriculum is
  • We work with those library schools which are trying to address this area, such as Sheffield, Strathclyde and UCL to try and identify examples of good practice of producing graduates who have the competencies we need
  • Integrate their students into ‘real life’, taking students in for a piece of work so they have experience

Professional Development option 1 – Institutional-based training

In the environment where there is little in the way of training options, ‘on the job’ training becomes the default. But is there a perception that on the job training comes without cost While the amount of training that happens in this environment is seen as cost neutral, it could be that sending someone on a paid for course could be more effective.

How much does it cost for us to get someone fully skilled using on the job training? There are time costs of both the new recruit and the loss of work time for the staff member doing the training. There is also the cost of the large amount of time spent recruiting staff because we cannot get people who are anywhere near up to speed. 

One action is to gain an understanding of how much it does actually cost to train a staff member up. 

Professional Development option 2 – Mentoring

There is an issue in scholarly communication with new people coming through continuously who need to be brought up to speed. One way of addressing this issue could be by linking people together. UKCORR are interested in creating some kind of mentoring system. ARMA also has a mentoring network which they are looking to relaunch shortly.

 The group discussed whether mentoring was something that can be brokered by an external group, creating an arrangement where if someone is new they can go and spend some time with someone else who is doing the same job. However, to do this we would need a better way of connecting with people. 

This idea ties into the work on institutional based training and the cost associated with it. We are aware there is a lot of cost in sharing and receiving info done by goodwill at present.

Professional Development option 3 – Community peer support events

Another way of getting people together is community and peer support, which is already part of this environment and could be very valuable. Between members of the group there are several events being held throughout the year. These range from free community events to paid for conferences. For example, Jisc is looking at running two to three community events each year. They recently trialled a webinar format to see if it is an opportunity to get online discussions going.

The group discussed whether we need more events, and what is the best way of supporting each other and what kind of remote methods could be used. There is a need to try and document this activity systematically.

Professional Development option 4 – Courses we can run now

The group agreed that while it might be too early for us to look at presenting courses, it would be useful to have an idea of who is offering what amongst the member organisations of the group and that we can start to glean a picture of what is covered. If we were to then map this to the competencies it helps decision making.

For example, UKSG have webinars on every month that are free which fulfils a need. Is there a topic we can put on for an hour?

 UKSG is planning a course towards the end of next year – a paid seminar face to face, outlining the publication process, particularly from the open access environment. This could be useful to publishers as well. It explains what needs to happen in a sequence of events – why it is important to track submission and acceptance dates. Pitching it to people who are new in the role and at senior managers who are responsible for staffing.

Professional Development option 5 – Private providers

Given the pull on resources for many in this sector we need to consider promoting and creating accessible training for all. So in that context the discussion moved to whether we were prepared to promote private training providers. This is a tricky area because there is such a range under the banner ‘private’ – from freelance trainers, to organisations who train as their primary activity to organisations who offer training as part of their wider suite of activities. Any training provision needs to look at sustainability, it isn’t always possible to rely on the goodwill of volunteers to deliver staff development and training.

For example, UKSG as an organisation is not profit-making — it is a charity and events are run on a non-profit basis. Jisc is looking at revenue on a non-profit basis to feed into Jisc’s support for the sector. ARMA work on a cost recovery basis – ARMA events are always restricted to members. Many of the member groups engage with private providers and pay them to come along and speak for the day.

We agreed that when we look at developing the competencies framework and identify how someone can achieve these skills we should be linking to all training provision, either through a paid course, online webinar or mentoring.  The group agreed we are not excluding private providers from the discussion. We are looking to get the best provision for the sector.

However, the topic came up about our own expertise. Experts working in the field already give talks at many events on work time, which is being paid for by their employer — who are in effect subsidising the cost of running the training or event. Can we use our own knowledge base to share this information amongst the community? Perhaps it is not about what you pay, it is what you provide into the community. 

Opening up the discussion

The group talked about tapping into existing conferences held by member organisations of the group to specifically look at this issue ‘branded’ under the umbrella of the group.  To ensure inclusion it would be good to have a webinar as part of the discussion at each of these conference so people who are not there can attend and contribute. Identified conferences were:

We also need to address other groups involved in the scholarly communication process within institutions, such as research managers, researcher developers and researchers themselves.

Next steps

  • Engaging with library schools to discuss the need for inclusion of scholarly communication in their academic library degree courses, possibly looking at examples of good practice
  • Discussion with NASIG about rolling out their scholarly communication competencies
  • Mapping scholarly communication competencies against current training provision options
  • Creating a self assessment tool to help individuals decide if scholarly communication is for them
  • Costing out ‘on the job training’ to evaluate the impact of this on the existing team

Attendees

  • Helen Blanchett – Jisc
  • Fiona Bradley – RLUK 
  • Sarah Bull – UKSG 
  • Helen Dobson – Manchester University 
  • Anna Grigson representing UKSG
  • Danny Kingsley – Cambridge University
  • Valerie McCutcheon – representing ARMA
  • Ann Rossiter – SCONUL
  • Claire Sewell – Cambridge University
  • Nick Shepherd – representing UKCoRR

 Published 27 November 2017
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley
Creative Commons License