Understanding Academics at York

Vanya Gallimore’s presentation to LIBER 2018 on the York University UX project that she led with Michelle Blake fitted well with the theme of cultural change for the research community.  Rather than focussing specifically on researchers’ relationship with library services the project looked at how academics at York approach their research and teaching activities.  The library was then able to consider how is its services currently facilitated and supported those activities and how to integrate the ‘academic voice’ into future service planning and development of support.

York librarians selected as their ethnographic methodologies two techniques that put academics at the centre of the process: cognitive mapping followed by semi-structured interviews.  The resulting data was coded and analysed in NVivo qualitative software against a set of key themes.

Researchers talked about their motivations around research and teaching, frustrations and pressures, and aspiration, shedding light not only on their own ways of working but also on the changing nature of students and how they were adjusting to teaching them.  Largely unprompted, they also described how their interactions with the library have changed.

The research results have fed into both some ‘quick-wins’ for the library and a series of longer-term recommendations, captured in the new Library Strategy for 2018-21.

The presentation will be available shortly but the research has been written up in an article for the New Review of Academic Librarianship.  Understanding academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York is available on open access at https://doi.org/101080/13614533.208.1466716



Open Science at LIBER 2018: “a Paradigm, not a fashion”

The LIBER 2018 conference hosted by the Université de Lille began with an impressive commitment from the French government on Open Science.  Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation  launched a national Open Science policy in a speech that reaffirmed the ethical basis of Open Science. She argued for the role of wider access to scientific publications in combatting fake news and giving access to the public through citations in Wikipedia.  Open Science is seen as an opportunity for France to be part of

Madame Vidal demonstrated that, as a former professor of biochemistry, she understood the temptation to keep research data in particular for oneself but argued that this is unacceptable in view of the public investment in creating it, the potential public good, and the deterioration of older datasets.  Ensuring that researchers develop a structured approach to preserving their data and comply with the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) is one of her objectives as a minister.

The new policy moves France from voluntary policies to a comprehensive approach that integrates all facets of scientific activity.  Its commitments are:

  1. Mandatory OA for the dissemination of research articles and books resulting from publicly funded calls for projects.  To be supported by a new open science fund.
  2. Structure research data and make it available through OA. Researchers will be obliged to disseminate their research data on an OA basis if funded publicly.  To be support by creating the position of Chief Data Officer at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation.
  3. Be part of a sustainable European and international open science dynamic.  France is participating in the European Commission’s Open Science Cloud and in GO Fair, a joint initiative of the Netherlands, German and France to make all science data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Resuable (FAIR)

LIBER launched its own Open Science Roadmap during the conference, setting out ways in which libraries can support the research process towards openness in their organisations.  There are detailed recommendations under seven focus areas:

  • Scholarly Publishing
  • FAIR Data
  • Research Infrastructure & the European Open Science Cloud
  • Metrics & Rewards
  • Open Science Skills
  • Research Integrity
  • Citizen Science

LIBER libraries have made significant commitments already towards supporting Open Science through rethinking library team structures to focus on research support, launching new university presses, and investing heavily in research data management.  There is a recognition that Open Science is not a technical but a social issue and that making the case for it to the academic community involves wider cultural change in universities and recognising that researchers are both collaborating and competing.  More on that in the next post.