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Academic Library Services in Support of Research 2.0

By: , Posted on: July 6, 2016

Research Image 2

In my recent Library Connect article, I noted that Research 2.0 (also called Science 2.0 or eScience) is changing the information behavior of researchers and is calling for a transformation of the academic library’s role and tasks.[i] A significant part of the services that answer this need is related to research data, as it was pointed out, for example by Michael Witt.[ii]

The importance of research data services is perceived beyond the library profession. In their advice paper, titled Roadmap for Research Data, The League of European Research Universities (LERU) recognizes academic libraries’ role in increasing the visibility of research data, and underlines that libraries are well placed to advocate best practices in data management and data citation. They also add that libraries should provide help in minimizing the time that researchers have to spend on technical and administrative processes.[iii] Although libraries’ role is much wider than this, we can say (with the words of Jack M. Maness) that academic libraries save researchers time and money.[iv] Therefore, the question, asked by Barbara Brydges and Kim Clarke, if it is time to re-envision the role of academic librarians in faculty research[v], can be answered by definitely saying yes. Here below, some relevant tasks of this role are enumerated.

Propagating social media

When considering social media, I am not speaking about Facebook or Twitter. Academic libraries may use them, but when targeting researchers, librarians’ attention has to be directed to social media sites, designed for professionals in general (like LinkedIn[vi]), and in particular those, meant for researchers (e.g.[vii] or Researchgate[viii]). I am saying this, even if it is known that there is a substantial reservation among researchers towards using social media for research-related goals. Researchers, who do use some tools, do not see them as substitutes for other channels and means of communication, predominantly because they do not trust them. The results of a survey show that 251 European research scholars are of the opinion that conducting research and disseminating research results via journal articles and books are the activities that contribute most to their scholarly reputation.[ix] We should not forget that these problems exist, but librarians have to keep an eye on the development of reputation platforms and make researchers aware of them.

Alternative metrics

Alternative metrics (altmetrics) of scientific output are an essential feature of Research 2.0 because of the widespread availability and accessibility of big quantities of full texts, be it journal papers or books. Access to this mass of text allows going beyond well-established, but often criticized measures of scientific output. As a result, reputation platforms emerged and are already pushing their own metrics. The question is if alternative approaches have the power to become institutionalized and accepted by the communities of researchers and other stakeholders, or not. If yes, when can they acquire trust and recognition? Whatever are the caveats, similarly to the activities, appropriate in the case of social media tools, librarians have to watch out and inform their constituencies about new developments in this field.

“Traditional” tasks

Spreading the word about openness that has been declared the heart and the future of research by many, seems to be a task that traditionally has been dealt with by academic libraries and librarians. The requirement now is to enable Open Science that consists of Open Data and Open Access. However, currently there are significant differences in the level of accomplishments and the involvement of various stakeholders in these activities in different countries.[x]

Open Access to publications (OA) is relatively well known to librarians, but there is a relatively new and to certain extent controversial problem, i.e. the presence of predatory publishers, induced by the business model of the Gold route of OA, based on article processing charges (APCs). Predatory journals are enumerated in the List of Predatory Publishers[xi]). However, due to the fuzziness of the concept of predatory publishing, besides blacklisting, whitelisting reliable publishers and journals may be a viable solution as the example of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ[xii]) shows it.[xiii]

research 2.0 and the future of information literacy

Tibor Koltay, PhD, is Professor at the Institute of Learning Technologies of Eszterházy Károly University, Hungary. His book, co-authored by him, Research 2.0 and the Future of Information Literacy, addresses information literacy, scientific literacy and academic literacy from the viewpoint of scientific research, especially in the light of the changing research landscape characterized by the emergence of Research 2.0.  To purchase a copy of the book at up to 30% off the list price and free global shipping, visit the Elsevier Store. Apply discount code STC215 at checkout.

[ix] Jamali, H. R., Nicholas, D., & Herman, E. (2015). Scholarly reputation in the digital age and the role of emerging platforms and mechanisms. Research Evaluation, doi: 10.1093/reseval/rvv032
[xiii] Berger, M., & Cirasella, J. (2015), “Beyond Beall’s List: Better understanding predatory publishers”, College & Research Libraries News, Vol. 76 No. 3, pp. 132-135.

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