Week 11: Research support

What’s on in Week 11

Twitter chat

When Monday 5 October, 6pm – 7pm
Topic Research support
Guest tweeters Carmel O’Sullivan (@C_OSulliv), Director, University of Southern Queensland Library
Twitter Chat Champions This week’s Twitter Chat Champions are:

  • Bronwyn
  • Chris B
  • Katherine
  • Kate
  • Leena
  • Patti
Hashtag #ifn614researchchat
  1. Should librarians create more partnerships with researchers and contribute actively to research projects? How?
  2. Can you see any possible negative impacts of an increased focus on research support in academic libraries?
  3. How important is subject specialisation to effective research support? Are librarians subject experts? Should they be?
  4. Is it fair that HDR students enjoy ‘privileged treatment’ over undergrads? (Keller 2015:78)

Thanks to Katherine and Kate McK for sharing questions on Twitter. I’ve incorporated them questions here.

Debrief We haven’t needed to debrief the last couple of chats so I won’t schedule a debrief this week.
Can’t participate in the Twitter chat? Check out the Storify archive.

New to Twitter chats? Check out the post on participating in a Twitter chat.


Research support is big business in universities, and over the last five years or so, research support has increasingly been a strong focus for academic libraries. Traditionally, liaison librarians have provided some support to academics in their research practice, but more recently, research support librarians have taken on the role of providing a cohesive portfolio of products, programs and services, and training other library staff to provide research support.

The state of research funding in Australia impacts on the need for robust research support services. The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently released a new set of priorities for research funding that are geared towards supporting medical and scientific research. This is likely to have an enormous impact on researchers in other domains because linking to the ARC priorities is impacts on the likelihood that your work will be funded. In 2013 (and beyond), there was heated discussion about ‘wasteful’ research, where the value of research in philosophy, the humanities and the social sciences was questioned by politicians and the media. Winning funding is hard work, and there is evidence to suggest it’s getting harder. Government funding is declining. There has been criticism of the way funding is allocated in Australia. It’s really tricky business.

Librarians are uniquely positioned to provide support to academics in all aspects of their research. They can help with development of funding applications. They teach researchers about data management. They run training that teaches researchers how to assess and maximise their research impact (which in turn helps them win more funding). They have the info sleuth skills that every researcher needs and they support researchers by flexing these skills through training programs, publication planning consultations, and literature searching.

Research support is a dynamic and exciting space that is critically important in the current climate of declining funding, lower success rates, and very narrow, science-focused research priorities.

Things to read and watch


Essential reading

These two articles provide an excellent overview of research support services in Australia. They are very useful in terms of understanding the types of services, products and programs that are offered in this space.

Richardson, J., Nolan-Brown, T., Loria, Pat, & Bradbury, S. J. (2012) Library research support in Queensland: a survey. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 43(4), pp. 258-277.

Keller, A. (2015). Research Support in Australian University Libraries: An Outsider View. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 1-13.

Extra reading

Research support should involve librarians partnering with researchers. The following article explores how these partnerships work:

Mamtora, J. (2013). Transforming library research services: towards a collaborative partnership. Library Management, 34(4/5), 352-371.

The following article is a great example of linking user needs and service design:

Brewerton, A. (2012). Re-skilling for research: investigating the needs of researchers and how library staff can best support them. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 18(1), 96-110.

Things to do

assessment-iconWeek 11 learning activity post

You need to complete your Week 11 learning activity. You can complete any of the six activity types that are included in Assignment 1 but remember you need to complete one of each type of activity over the course of the semester.

Marks for submission date

Remember, there are additional marks for submitting this activity within particular time periods. The breakdown is:

  • Submit by the end of the nominated week: 2 additional marks
  • Submit by the end of the following week: 1 additional mark
  • Submit after the end of the following week but before the next check point: 0 additional marks

Argue a point of view

If you’re doing the ‘argue a point of view’ topic this week, you can choose from one of the following topics (argue for or against the statement). Please note I may not agree with all of these!

Alternatively, you can pick your own topic.

  • The focus on research support in academic libraries will compromise the support provided for teaching and learning.
  • Subject specialisation is unnecessary because librarians are not subject experts. Academics are. Librarians should provide support that isn’t subject specific.
  • In order to adequately support research, librarians should develop expertise in particular subject areas.
  • Librarians should proactively and practically provide support for grant application development, for example, by writing literature reviews for applications.
  • Create your own!