eResearch and Librarians

By Robyn Edmanson

As a librarian I’m interested in the future skills we need to support researchers. In the past decade, eResearch practices and processes have evolved along with library support services.

eResearch is:

‘research activities that use a spectrum of advanced information and communication technologies and that embrace new research methodologies emerging from increasing access to advanced networks, services and tool’

from The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2006

Since then, eResearch has grown both locally and internationally alongside the portability and sophistication of ICTs.

So too data collections, sample sizes and data management practices have evolved and improved as researchers, and librarians supporting their work, have come to grips with new skill-sets surrounding five key areas:

  1. Collaborative technologies: IM, Sharepoint, Google Tools, Social Bookmarking, new video conferencing technologies such as zoom
  2. Research data management: experimental, observational and/ computational data; data storage and curation; derived data and more
  3. Scholarly communication: Endnote, Zotero, Refworks, Mendeley; Creative Commons licensing; electronic publishing – both Open Access and subscriber; bibliometrics & altmetrics; institutional repositories; author identifiers, e.g. ORCID ID, Researcher ID.
  4. Visualisation: Learning Analytics and dashboards
  5. Data collection & analysis: qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods analyses, data mining, programming languages such as R and Python for meaningful information.

While librarians’ skills have evolved with advances in these key areas, data analysis is a new and exciting area of eResearch involving open-source software and a new digital mindset. The automation requirements of a lot of eResearch projects require programming and analysis skills which is where librarians can help with a new Library Carpentry Toolbox supported by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS).

Software training for librarians is an important new tool made possible with open source technology; important new skills to safeguard against data loss, enable data re-use and ensure against copyright mismanagement.

Editors Note: USQ eResearch is running ‘Software Carpentry’ sessions on the 18th -19th July 2016. Find out more about ‘Software Carpentry’ here.

One thought on “eResearch and Librarians

  1. Robyn Edmanson

    The importance of simple coding skills for librarians, and indeed educators broadly, cannot be under-estimated. No longer the ‘information gatekeepers’ we once were in previous age of information scarcity, librarians need to adopt the new ‘radical trust’ paradigm where everyone, including our youngest, are able to source, re-mix and communicate content. Robyn Edmanson

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