Open for Collaboration

Our LISRA-RADAR project brings together different stakeholders around LIS: academics, Faculties, library practitioners, and the library executive, and it has been a learning experience for all of us. In this post, Edward, our project lead, reflects on the experience of how he came to conceive of this project and the learning experience he has gone through. Future posts will cover the academic and the institutional perspectives of this collaborative project.

– Edward, Bhuva, Mal, Belinda, and Ashley

Moving from Practice to Research

This project is the outcome of a series of collaborations that I’ve been involved in over the past couple of years. I’ve written about my journey from practice to research in my post on the ALIA Library Applied Research Kollektive (LARK) blog, but more recently I’ve been reflecting on how my own experience as a library practitioner conducting research has added to my ability to support the academics I work with. Being a scholar is almost a requisite for anyone in the LIS field, but how does one move from being a scholar to becoming a researcher who conceives, executes, and writes about one’s own research projects?

Co-authoring my first journal article with an academic made me realise that the publishing process isn’t as scary as I had initially thought. I was apprehensive about submitting that first abstract to a journal, but I soon realised that the peer reviewers and the journal editor had really constructive feedback which was very helpful in informing the direction of the article. This was a much more collaborative process than I had imagined, and the learning experience of going back and forth on drafts and seeking advice from my academic mentor resulted in a better article and was simultaneously humbling and empowering for me. Publishing my first major article in an open-access journal was eye-opening also, as I was able to immediately see the impact of my article across the world using Altmetrics, and it was even more exciting when a derivative work was published in translation in French. I have received requests from libraries in the USA and in Malaysia asking me about the process we followed. Seeing a positive response to my work and being able to easily share a link to the original full-text on social media without paywalls was really exciting, and helped reinforce my advocacy of Open Access. This greater understanding of the entire publishing process has since allowed me to extend better assistance to academics in my role as liaison librarian at my university.

Open Access is a rapidly evolving environment where both academics and librarians face many new challenges. Academics are increasingly required to argue for the impact their research has had, whether it be social impact, collaboration with industry, a patent, or some other demonstrable outcome beyond their research outputs. These changing priorities offer a range of exciting opportunities for librarians, and are areas where we can extend our support. In my research consultations with academics, apart from advice on literature searching, I find myself increasingly offering advice around publication strategy, Open Access options, social media, research data management, and more.

Conducting research in collaboration with an academic has also exposed me to a range of different processes in the researcher journey that I hadn’t given much thought to before. For example, attending to feedback from peer reviewers is not part of the research process that traditionally falls under the scope of ‘library support’. I wasn’t necessarily aware of or empathised with this important part of the process before becoming a researcher myself. Building this understanding has been incredibly useful in allowing me to build better rapport with academic staff, and I feel much more aware of the setbacks and roadblocks they might be experiencing along the way.

I believe that academic librarians are in a fantastic position to conduct research, and ultimately, this knowledge leads to the development of closer relationships with researchers. And who knows where these partnerships may lead! As a liaison librarian, the ability to do my job effectively is tied to developing and maintaining these relationships with academics. This process is much easier to do from a place where academics view you as a collaborator in their research and teaching – not simply as a provider of ‘support’ who merely services their library-related needs. I recently gave a presentation at my university about publication strategy, and an academic walked up to me afterwards and said, ‘your advice was really helpful; it’s obvious that you’ve published your own research.’ This kind of feedback is its own reward, and has helped me forge a sense of belonging within the research-focused environment where I work, and reinforced my identity as an academic liaison librarian.

– Edward Luca, Academic Liaison Librarian, University of Sydney Library


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