Week 11 – Issues -The Research Agenda and the Future of Academic Libraries

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      Caitlin .

      Issues based Reflection – The Political Nature of The Research Agenda and the Future of Academic Libraries
      QUT Gardens Point Main Library Entrance
      In Australia University funding and research success is an increasingly politicised issue, with treasurer Joe Hockey recently lamenting the fact that Australia does not have a University ranked in the global top twenty. Research success is a key component of rankings and many Academic Libraries see themselves as partners in the pursuit of research and thus institutional success and place it as a key component of strategic plans for the future. QUT sees “Increased visibility and accessibility of QUT research outputs and researcher profiles to maximise research impact” as a key part of their aims. Research funding in Australian is largely government based and highly competitive and for this reason the research agenda is a contentious and extensively debated issue.
      Crucially funding decisions are based on two performance based metrics; the ‘Higher Education Research Data Collection’ (HERDC) and ‘Excellence in Research for Australia’ (ERA) recording statistical information such as HDR numbers, publications output and income derived from research. Libraries can play a crucial role in collecting and collating the data that proves their worth and that of their University.

      Academic Libraries are transforming into sophisticated research partners by offering Institutional repositories centralizing the storing of Institutional publications and making data collection easier.They can even assist Academics avoid the pitfalls of the “Publish or Perish world”.
      Once criticised as a irrelevant in the ‘Google’ world Academic Libraries now use their bibliometric expertise to guide HDR student’s, teaching them to manage their research impact and data. This can involve training, infrastructure including the design and creation of data storage and collection, organization, preservation, sharing and retrieval from the entry of data into the research cycle through to the dissemination of publications and the archiving of results. Data management is far more than Information Technology and involves complex legal and ethical issues, appropriate technical frameworks and governance. Assistance in data management can improve research outcomes and increase an institutions output thus increasing its ranking and attracting more students.

      Many Australian Academic Libraries see their role of support as one of institutional pride however the need to offer proactive and increasingly sophisticated support to HDR students while at the same time contributing to Bibliometric innovation and the research data field has led to rationalisation in many areas.
      Information Literacy of undergraduate students is being virtualized and many services automated. It has also taken much focus off collections management and the need to archive and preserve materials for the future. In an increasingly politicised environment where fiscal accountability is key Academic Libraries are asked to do more with less and are forced to seek new funding models. As a way of financing their technological transformations, whilst hanging on to traditional roles as gatekeepers to information and transforming physical spaces. For many HDR support, Bibliometrics and data management are the answer and University Administration and Faculties will become the biggest clients. Although corporate clients may also be a necessity.

      With the new focus many Academic Libraries are adopting business models for their Libraries such as UNSW’s “Information Services Department”. But at what cost? Is it really possible to maintain such high level support in complex areas of research data management and Bibliometrics without neglecting undergraduate students? Will the role of Libraries in promoting and supporting their Universities detract from their original role as information keepers? These questions have no immediate resolution but will assure continued debate in the future as Academic Librarians take on the roles of Statistician, Research Data Manger, Bibliometrics Expert, Grant seeker, Teacher, Access negotiator and key collaborator with a variety of stake holders including; Students, Academic boards, IT and the wider community.

      • This topic was modified 8 years, 7 months ago by Caitlin ..
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 7 months ago by Caitlin ..
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 7 months ago by Caitlin ..
      • This topic was modified 8 years, 7 months ago by Caitlin ..
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