Enhancing Library Collaboration with the Research Office and Faculty

Library staff have a great deal of expertise that can provide value to the research lifecycle, even as researchers themselves are turning to other sources when gathering information. Here are three important ways that university libraries can add value to the research process.
Adopting a more integrated approach to higher-education research would bring many benefits to stakeholders involved in the research process. One of the biggest benefits for campus libraries is that breaking down the siloes that often exist within research workflows would allow for closer collaboration between libraries, researchers, and the research office. By becoming a more effective partner in this process, libraries can demonstrate greater value to their university. Today, the role of librarians in the research lifecycle can vary widely from one institution to another. Yet, library staff have a great deal of expertise that can provide value to this process, even as researchers themselves are turning to other sources when gathering information. Here are some key examples.

Managing the institution’s intellectual assets

As experts in collecting, organizing, and preserving information, library staff can—and should—play a critical role in the planning, development, and management of institutional processes and systems for preserving research objects. For instance, library staff can work with researchers to develop plans for storing and maintaining the data collected during the discovery phase. They can ensure that all research assets—including publications, pre-prints, datasets, and creative works—are captured in the institutional repository. They can solve the challenges inherent in managing and preserving knowledge produced in a wide range of media types, including ever-evolving digital data that can be mixed and adapted for a variety of purposes. They can make sure this intellectual capital is discoverable by applying metadata to all research objects in a clear, consistent, and systematic way. And they can support institutional compliance by making sure that research assets follow regulatory mandates.

Disseminating research results—and tracking impact

Researchers today have a number of options for sharing their work. As experts in the delivery and accessibility of information, library staff can help researchers think through these options and choose outlets that will have the greatest impact, thus raising the visibility and the research profile of their institution. They can also help measure the impact of research outputs by tracking metrics such as usage, views, and peer-collaboration.

Removing the Barriers to Collaboration

When the many steps in the research process—from planning and discovery to publication and preservation—involve separate technology systems and different campus departments, one unfortunate by-product is that it’s very difficult for libraries to support research activities. For instance, this siloed approach makes it nearly impossible for campus libraries to ensure that metadata are being applied to all research objects in a clear and consistent manner. As a result, this is happening on a ad-hoc basis instead of systematically at many institutions today. A more integrated approach to research would solve this problem. With a new type of research services platform (such as Esploro) that unifies these various processes and repositories within a single, cloud-based system, libraries could automate the capture of research assets and apply metadata to these consistently, making it easy for researchers to find and cross-reference materials no matter where they are stored. What’s more, libraries and research offices would be able to share insights and workflows related to the collection, publication, and impact of research across the institution. For libraries, this represents a key opportunity to demonstrate value as full partners in the research process. The University of Oklahoma is one of five leading universities to help in the development of Esploro. “We see a real opportunity … to make a major and meaningful impact on research management through better support for metadata and taxonomy, sustained openness, the reuse of data, and the creation and administration of truly meaningful data management plans,” says Carl Grant, associate dean of knowledge and chief technology officer for the University of Oklahoma Libraries. He adds: “We are eager to work with other leading partner libraries from around the globe in a collaborative effort that we believe will help research institutions achieve superior results.”

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