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The Empowering Librarians in Research Webinar Transcript!

We are pleased to present the transcript from our recent webinar, ‘Empowering Librarians in Research’, featuring insights and expertise from Jessica Eustace-Cook of Trinity College Dublin. In this engaging discussion, Jessica shared valuable perspectives on the pivotal role of librarians in supporting research endeavors, navigating digital resources, and fostering information literacy.

As libraries continue to evolve in the digital age, the webinar provided an illuminating exploration of strategies to empower librarians in their mission to facilitate knowledge dissemination and scholarly inquiry. We invite you to delve into the transcript and gain insights that can enhance your understanding of the dynamic landscape of research support.

Empowering Librarians in Research' Transcript:

JULIE: Hello everyone, I'm Julie Brown. I'm a community manager with Covidence and I'm based in New Zealand and I'm going to be the facilitator for today's session. 

We have two guest speakers. First I'd like to introduce you to Jessica Eustace, who is an experienced librarian who works at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. She is a research support librarian and a subject librarian in Nursing Midwifery. Jessica has over 20 years of experience in providing academic database and research support and is an active member of many different kinds of literature review teams, including systematic reviews. Jessica is also a personal advocate for mental health support for children and young adults from minority backgrounds, disability and LGBTQIA+. 

We also have Robb Mackes, an Academic Success Manager with a Covidence. You may have already come across Rob in your journey with Covidence. Rob has been a medical librarian in New Jersey and Delaware for over 30 years and he's experienced in managing electronic resources purchasing groups in hospital libraries in over 20 US states. He's been a project manager for the Delaware medical information resources Alliance and manager of several hospital libraries in New Jersey. So we have a very experienced group of guest speakers here. 

In the agenda today, we're going to go through lots of different things associated with librarians and libraries and research looking at roles, looking at the research landscape, developing training, what kind of training and schools you might want to participate in. It's definitely going to get lots of insights from our guest speakers. Going to look at some challenges and how to balance your research and other work commitments as well. So a very full, packed agenda, which I think is going to be fantastic. 

JULIE: So we’re going to kick straight off, Robb, could you share with us what you think is the role of the research librarian?

ROBB: Libraries and librarians play a vital role in the research process. Experienced librarians are expert searchers who have been trained in the use of controlled vocabulary, and that all research databases use an employee for superior indexing and are often subject experts as we heard in Jessica’s introduction. Most librarians have experience in searching multiple databases and creating and tweaking search strategies to maximize retrieval in each database. We are well versed in subject heading versus keyword searching and are familiar with employing search hedges to simplify this the searching process. librarians and library staff are experts in document retrieval and Document Delivery. While most universities have comprehensive electronic and print collections that simplify document retrieval, many hospitals and other smaller libraries may not have those comprehensive collections, making document retrieval more complex and locating those documents from other sources. Librarians are familiar with copyright laws and the intricacies of Publisher licensing restrictions and are able to help ensure that laws and restrictions are followed. librarians and library staff often provide training for reference management software or other software that might be used to manage the process.

JULIE: Jessica, I’m going to just ask you if you can tell us a little bit about your journey as librarian, what got you started in your career and what motivated you to get involved in research.

JESSICA: I started off with a master’s [degree] in historical medicine, and I ended up getting a part time job working as a library system to pay my way through the master’s degree. And I really found a sense of space, a sense of tribe, when I joined the library community. I was very lucky to have some very empowering women in my role and I went on to do my Library Masters degree. 

After I graduated, I ended up going to the UK and I was very fortunate to get a job working for MIMAS at the University of Manchester, which was one of the precursors of the JISC Research center as they are now. My first job was actually working on what was the Web of Science then and the Web of Science proceedings and then integrated into that. I also got to use EndNote. So I think it was on EndNote seven at that stage. I also  work on a couple of national projects. The NESLI project – this dealt with the first national licensing for e-resources and had a model license. MOst of the roles were help desk administration for the databases, and involved training academics and creating help manuals.In 2004 I returned to  Ireland with this great experience under my belt. And really I was very glad that I hadn’t been scared to move outside of my comfort zone to leave the country for my first job. My second professional role was Librarian for Hibernia College. They were the first really Virtual College that existed in Ireland. I was in the library there for three years and did all the purchasing. So I really got to experience purchasing materials but also using the network I had developed in the UK.

In 2007 I started  working for Trinity College Dublin as their SFI research support librarian. So funded by SFI to support their researchers. This role was one of five new posts. It was a brand new role that had been created at that stage and that really became a stepping stone, but I think it was the experience with those databases with the learning, the teaching, developing documents, all of those really cool things that you can learn wherever you are, and their desire to teach that led me to get into research primarily from a teaching point of view. But my job is now completely flipped. So where I would have been doing 80% teaching and maybe 20% research that is not completely different and now I do 80% research and 20% teaching.


JULIE: I’m going to ask Robb, if you can tell us kind of what areas of research librarians can get involved in. 

ROBB: We instinctively know that healthcare in particular depends on active research to improve diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Research is happening in every discipline imaginable. Anecdotally at Covidence We know that research is actively taking place in climate science, agriculture, education, engineering, physics, environmental science, even law enforcement. Librarians would be well served to learn a bit of the systematic review process and not necessarily master it but know and understand the process efficiently to be able to guide users in the right direction as particularly as they’re starting their research project. Help them to understand whether they’re actually doing a full fledged systematic review or if they’re doing a basic literature review or rapid review, a scoping review and so forth. 

As health sciences librarians, many of us are familiar with the PICO framework. There are other evidence based practice or evidence based research frameworks available that might be better suited to other disciplines or other subject areas. So having a basic knowledge of what some of those other frameworks are, would be helpful as well. 

The literature review process is not a one size fits all endeavour. There are several different types of reviews. As I mentioned a moment ago, a basic literature review, rapid review, a scoping, review and meta analysis, or systematic review. Each has a somewhat different process and should be considered differently. For example, a rapid review is an expedited review that assesses what’s already known about a topic while a systematic review, known for its methodological rigour produces a comprehensive unbiased summary of the existing evidence. So, having a good idea of the different types of reviews that can be produced, can help guide researchers in the right direction as they’re beginning their research project.


JULIE: Are there any specific research areas that you’ve been involved in as well, it has just been systematic reviews or have you been involved in areas?

JESSICA: The interesting thing about reviews, is I believe there are 26 different variants of reviews at the moment. There was a paper release maybe six years ago that looked at reviews and one of the more complex things we find is actually the confusion around what type of reviews someone’s doing. So for example, I would have had MSc students coming to me saying I’m doing a systematic review and you’re like ‘are you really though?’ and what they’re actually doing is a systematized review, so close to the rapid review, where there’s a single reviewer doing the title and abstract screening and then they may have their supervisor coming in and out and doing, you know, a safety check over the second vote. A true systematic review, it’s not something to be undertaken lightly – it is very rigorous and very much a process.. It’s definitely something that we recommend for our PhDs. Just to really ground that area. So you know, I’m going to do this systematic review on my PhD. And really, that is the rationale for why I’m doing a PhD in this area. We also recommend they register their SR in Prospero, so again, putting a flag in the sand saying this is the research that I am kind of having ownership for the next four years. 

Rapid reviews are definitely more of an output type of the hospital and I do them as part of larger framework searches. So for example, you might do a rapid review just to get a grounding on an area and then that might be really your jumping off point to look at further research. Or, for example, one of the large funders will be like, ‘Okay, we absolutely want you to do a systematic review on the experience of breastfeeding and women’ and you’re  like, okay, maybe, maybe not. And so that can be a miscommunication that happens about what is actually feasible for an SR. It is there to answer a niche question. If you want a broad overview use something like an umbrella or scoping review might be a more appropriate methodology..  

So I guess what I’m saying is there are lots and lots of different types of reviews out there, making sure that you are using the appropriate methodology for the review that you’re doing, clarifying over and over to make sure you’re definitely using the right one and then making sure they have a good supports with trying to get them started.. 

When I started doing reviews, the first ones I did were literature reviews that moved on scoping reviews, then umbrella reviews, and now I do more systematic reviews but at the moment, using Covidence, which has saved me such huge amount of time I cannot even tell you, I have 64 ongoing projects at the moment in various stages. And that will be everything from a five tier framework project looking at cognition and  Down syndrome, spanning to postmenopausal care for women. Tools like Covidence make this actually possible – it makes multiple reviews – and the management of the searches much easier and faster Covidence was  initially designed to help with a particular type of review. I now use it with multiple types of reviews, I use different parts  as needed – not everything reaches the extraction level. 


JULIE: We have had a question come in from CJ; ‘Can you suggest ways to help researchers tell the difference between those different types of reviews?’ CJ says that they have lots of researchers come to them asking for help with scoping reviews, but they don’t realize perhaps how long do these reviews take to do. Do you have any advice about that?

JESSICA: I actually have an introductory document: Preparing your search strategy.  So many researchers use systematic review as a term to mean any type of review – this document gives me more information and allows me to advise about the feasibility of the type of review they think they want to do. In the preparatory  search strategy document, students/ researchers have to provide the research question. They have to make an attempt to identify the database, they’re going to search the index terms, they’re using a basic keyword search. You also need to get them to tell you where they’re at in the search. So an MSc might study for a max of 18 months. A full  rigorous systematic review as well as 12 other projects is not possible. But maybe a systematised review?. If it was a PhD; are they at the start or are they at the middle – this can impact the advice you give,  An outreach project with some of the hospitals – they might have a very fast turn around which will impact the type of review which could be applied. Do they just want an answer, or to be trained up? Occasionally a hospital or service provider will mirror a project with one of our academics, for example TCPHI and they work in a collaboration . 

What I would suggest is definitely getting the person who’s asking you for help to really detail what they’re looking for. Look at that question. Does it make sense? Is it niche enough? If they’re trying if it’s an MSc, I will quite often say Okay, great question, but you’re actually not really the question. You’re at a theme and you need to narrow it down. So if you’re looking at breastfeeding women, you can narrow down that population group, or another demographic. So you might look at lower middle income, you might look at higher income. Are you looking at national policy in the states or Europe? There are all of these different nuances that you can use with your experience with subject area to to help the academic or the researcher reach where they want to go.As a  facilitator and sign poster for the correct research type output that they’re looking for, and the type of review  you can guide them to the right method, and output style. 

But honestly, I wouldn’t even attempt a systematic view unless I was at PhD or academic staff level. I would like a student to start with a literature view and then go on from there. You can still use a tool like Covidence through those simpler searches and simpler research processes as well. You don’t have to use all the bells and whistles that are in there. But definitely defining what that person’s asking you for first will certainly help you for the advice that you give them.


JULIE: I think a lot of people tend to underestimate how long particular review types take and how many team members you need to involve. 

JESSICA: I would say that as well. Due to redeployment during covid we have seen delays in completion of projects. There’s a lot of reruns that go on as well. So once you get over 12 months, a lot of publications won’t accept that search and you end up having to run a rerun, and that incurs another set of processing that goes on beyond what you’d originally planned for. And that can be hard to manage with your workflow.


JULIE: Robb, I’m just wondering if you need any other qualifications as a librarian to follow a research past career?

ROBB: Not so much qualifications so much of it is learning as you go. Yes, you need to know how to do an effective literature search. But you learn so for instance, when I became a hospital librarian, I knew what a heart attack was. I had no idea where myocardial infarction was, but it didn’t take me long to pick up the medical terminology. And as that happened, my searching skills got better and the searches that I produced for people were more high quality. Still not good at the beginning but got better as time went on.


JULIE: Do you have any kind of thoughts on the value of the research process itself to the librarian?

ROBB: I think that librarians are uniquely qualified to participate in the research process. Just mentioned many librarians are well versed in Literature Searching methods across a wide variety of databases. While medical or health sciences librarians may know the intricacies of searching PubMed or Medline or similar embase for example, law librarians are just as knowledgeable about searching Westlaw or Lexus or dialogue and academic librarians will have another set of databases in in which they’ve got the in depth knowledge for searching. So while we tend to think of how participating in the research process will benefit the library, the librarian librarians can benefit from that as well. First and foremost, they’ll sharpen their searching skills immeasurably. 

A librarian might become a subject specialist, one who focuses their information retrieval skills on one or a few specific topics or subject areas. They’ll learn the terminology specific to those areas and once mastered, those skills can then transfer into other areas to become now knowledgeable in other subject areas or other being able to perform more in depth searches being able to participate more in the review process rather than just simply providing the literature or the documents to the to the research to the review team.


JULIE: We’ve had a question come in from Lauri, who’s asking, I think this might be for you Jessica. Just in terms of kind of directing your users, your patrons, to different review types –  Do you refer them to resources like their Joanna Briggs Institute, for example?

JESSICA: Trinity [College Dublin] is a JBI affiliated  institution, so we would do a lot of work with JBI. I would say that there’s a lot more help out there now than there was when I started off. Robb was saying earlier on that the searches you start off with, are not the search that you do now, so I would say it’s taken me six years to really build up my expertise, and that’s why I have such a growth of projects. 

When I started off, I didn’t use truncation. I didn’t use any shortcuts. I used plain language in all my searches because I wanted to be sure that what I was searching for was coming back. There is a certain amount of confidence that comes along with doing the research. My top tip as a researcher, librarian or otherwise, would be to have a study buddy. So test that search on one of your colleagues, get them to think about it. Really try mind mapping. There are some great apps and tools out there at the moment where you can ping an idea and kind of play around with some ideas and I use that with some of my MSc students when they’re really stuck on an area and not not really doing well with it.TCD also has a community of practice. So there may be three of us that will be expert searchers, and we’re mentoring the rest of our team – just around this methodology as they are already subject specialists in their field. . 

Robb did mention expanding skills, too. Not just into the border health sector beforehand. Research could be on the history of nursing, or the impact of nursing on reconstructive surgery, computer science and facial mapping. You know, you can go anywhere with research. I don’t think research is siloed in a way that it was and definitely the growth of academic databases allows us to move outside of our old silos. 

There are two main players in Systematic Reviews:  Cochrane, which is seen as the gold standard for your systematic reviews and JBI (Joanna Briggs Institute), which originally started off as taking in more qualitative but now also has quantitative material out there now. They have excellent resources on their website. The Cochrane Handbookis like the bible of SRs,  it’s now digital. So it’s much easier to search. Support within databases has rapidly improved, there’s much more help about using Proximity operators truncation and how they can apply and adapt. 

Robb earlier mentioned using hedge searches. I actually don’t use them because I like to use my own searches. I like to work the mental process of where I’m going with each thing and how they connect together. My colleague talks about building a search as a mix between science and magic. Where you’re trying to find that sweet spot in between precision, and also the breadth of what you’re trying to get as well. So you can read as many manuals as you want, but it’s really learning on the job. Having that mirror, having another academic or another librarian to pick off those ideas will really help you grow as a research librarian. Everybody learns, everybody grows. I look back at some of my searches when I first started them. Oh, really… But that’s part of the joy of doing it and I only get more enthused, the more research that I do.


JULIE: We’ve got this kind of idea about what research librarians can do, but I’m just interested in knowing a bit more about what’s the benefit for the library in having experienced research librarians and what’s the benefit for the patrons library patrons, Jessica?

JESSICA: So the benefit for the library and for the librarian, is while we don’t naturally live in an environment of publish and perish, it still looks amazing for your CV to get out there. In the social sciences there is more of an ethos of collaboration, of larger research teams working together to an end. That’s slightly different to the arts and humanities. That discipline tends not to have the systematic views, they do however do a lot of literature reviews. 

I think the benefit for the patron with contacting the Librarian is they are coming to an area  with someone that has some experience in trench. We do still have subject librarians in TCD rather than collective subject teams. So you will get their experience when building your search, and we do a lot of mirroring. So say I’m working on something and it tailors into clinical speech – That’s not my forte. So I will then say will you come and mirror with me on this. I just want to make sure that I’m getting the right, like tilt with this and you can always bring in other people to help you. In fact, academics, really happy to have more people on a team. Systematic reviews are a huge amount of work. The more people working on it, the faster that can move to the processing system and the faster they get that deliverable at the other end. 

So for the library, it’s good for getting your name out that you’re part of the research process that you are currently in. You’re relevant that you are making a difference to the academic world and building a  relationship. For the academics themselves, it means that they’re getting an expert that already has experience.. I say on average when I’m involved in the search, [a search that is] would take an academic three months to do, takes me a day and a half. And that’s a massive savings. So they index me into their Gantt charts and I have a fast deliverable for them that would take them so much more time. And that’s always appreciated. With PhDs it’s more of a mentoring role to facilitate their research project. With staff research projects, I am an active member of the team and work through their project until they really reach extraction of which pointI hand them over to the tool. So you’re there from development all the way through.


JULIE: Any time that we can save, not compromising quality, is vastly important in today’s society and ideas about research wastage.

Robb, I wonder if you could just tell us about the research roles differ between different types of librarians in different settings for example.

ROBB: The short answer is yes but no. Generally speaking, formalized research is more prevalent in academia than it is in the hospital setting. That’s not to say that there is no REIT, that there are no research efforts happening in the hospitals because there’s a lot of research happening in hospitals around the world. We saw this during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic, where research was happening everywhere. From small scale research, based on observation of just a small population or small sample of patients to large scale studies involving hundreds or 1000s of patients. Research is happening everywhere. 

There is major research happening at hospitals that are typically large medical centers, often teaching hospitals, generally teaching hospitals often affiliated with academic medical centers. And I should preface that by saying that my lens for this for what I’m saying here is US based hospitals, I’m not certain how that might differ in other parts of the world. And, broadly speaking, research is often based on the population of the patient population that clinicians are seeing on a daily basis. research tends to be more focused at the hospital level and more focused and more of a priority at the university level than it is at the hospital level. dedicated research departments may be working on multiple studies in various areas at the university level. 

The driving factor behind any research and by extension, the differences in research librarian roles. Whether at a hospital or at the university level is the institution’s commitment to research. Our faculty members are required to do research in their fields, or to researchers do it because they love it. And I want to learn something or whatever. Our students or residents or interns are required to do research projects either annually or one large project over the course of their learning career. All of those kinds, factor into the focus on research, whether it’s at the hospital or at the university level. So you may have a group of residents doing a research project in a community hospital, but it may not be as involved or as intense as a research project done at the university level. 

Research is happening everywhere and the takeaway and being able to support it is to be able to adapt it to support it is the librarians job in my mind.


JULIE: We’ve had a question that has come in, they have asked if Jessica and Robb have benefited in their learning from completing PRESS requests for other librarians built to search strategies?

JESSICA: So PRESS has been around for about three or four years now. And it’s where basically you get a colleague to check over your site for you. So there were a couple of reviews done looking at errors which had got through searching all the way through and in fact, I think because of the errors that were identified, that’s why there are more and more information specialists asked to be on these searches to make sure that the searches are reputable that you can make sure that  researchers follow through process. ITs key because if your search is wrong, all the data that comes afterwards is flawed. So it is the cornerstone of what happens and that’s why I think I think that’s why I’m so busy these days because people want to make sure they get that right. So with press as I said is insurance, we do have a community of practice, and we certainly use press there.

I also worked on a WHO project which was looking at Mega mapping to look at elder abuse and during that we used PRESS for it as well. It is great if you’re doing systematic review. What I would find though, is if you have a legacy experience for the team, so say you started off and you were looking at schizophrenia for example, if you’re running that same search, or large elements of it again, as you’re looking at another aspect of it, I might not always use PReSS again, we don’t always do that because we’ve already had the majority of it tested already. And that will be a reason why we might skip it but it is a very useful tool. And certainly when I was learning I used to do a lot of testing things out on to my colleagues who have more experience than me.

I think it’s a fantastic tool out there and I do think JBI are having it added as a requirement now for a lot of their publications.


JULIE: Do you see Librarian’s doing their own research from beginning to end? Or do you think that they almost exclusively work with others?

JESSICA: I think it depends on the librarian.I do think that the more we move into issues like sustainability, we’re looking at, you know, inclusion, diversity. There is definitely space for librarians to do their own research. I think a lot of the time we’re so busy. With the day to day and supporting our students, the academics and our staff that we actually forget to do our own research. 

Also I think, as a profession, we do suffer  with impostor syndrome where you’re like okay, do I actually have the right to speak in this realm? Staff time and funding plays a big part in whether research is feasible, 

In Ireland we have an academic and special Library group in Ireland, the health service Library group, as well. They provide courses and mentoring and we are seeing more academic writing groups. There are more research groups, there are more opportunities for librarians to do their own research. And I say if you have the capacity to do it and that you really can’t do wrong to shine a light on how fantastic our careers are and how much we have to give to our communities.


JULIE: We’ve also had a question coming from Amy. Amy’s asking, ‘besides uploading search results, do you use Covidence in any other ways?’ And that kind of brings me on to my next question for you, Jessica, could you share with us some of the tools and resources that you frequently use when you’re participating in systematic and other types of literature review. 

JESSICA: So the process has evolved over time. I would say we’re looking at maybe five years ago really when Covidence started. We had formerly used ENDNOTE for a lot of our management of our searches, and then exporting results from EndNote into a spreadsheet for systematic reviews and it was very laborious. Academics had massive issues with you know, they’d lose the laptop or they lose a memory stack or, you know, the storage of it. Then they had sensitive data that they were worried about and all sorts of things that kind of went along. 

Covidence really came onto the scene when I was doing something that was looking at, I believe it was it was suicide, basically within the emergency department and one of our team of academics had actually mentioned using this new tool which allowed  you to import I think it was up to 1000 results at that stage to play around with it. And that was the first time that I used it. And for me, getting away from the spreadsheets was just amazing. IAnd it just made everything so much more seamless. And really we continued using EndNote in conjunction. 

So we would run our searches, go into EndNote deduplication, and then go into Covidence. Covidence improved on its deduplication so now we go directly into Covidence for most databases using a RIS file. 

There are very few resources other than potentially my gray literature search that I’m still adding as an interface to ENDNOTE and within Covidence. There’s a lot more adaptability with the tools. So if we’re doing a rapid review, or I’ve got an MSc student then we just knock off the number of reviewers required. So we can do a one review and then a double reviewer only happens at full text by their supervisor. 

I think I mentioned that earlier on, other things that we do to support researchers. I’m a big believer in the triple strand. So I use all of the indexes. I always start and then base because I think it has the most rigorous index out there. I built an index. Then I would build a keyword search based on the index terms. I flip that back to the research team who then expand it with their experience with an addition or amendment. Due to my experience with the teas and subject areas – I neary have my own hedge searches. I still struggle with pharmacology, so you’ve got things like, you know, generic drug names, and then company names, but that’s still quite tricky.

The cloud nature of Covidence also allows international collaboration. Six different countries can collaborate on it as a tool. And the whole process is never going to be lost because it’s up there. I can bob in and out, I think I’ll keep an eye on it and add up my full text to it when they get to that stage. 

Then we as I said I do normally hand over an extraction phase to the team, and they would use a variety of extraction tools. Sometimes using Covidence’s adaptable extraction tool,, sometimes using other ones as well. And I would also use JBI SUMARI as well, which is a similar product but not as evolved as Covidence. And that is because that is a requirement to use that system with JBI publication. So we were talking about Joanna Briggs earlier on, they have that bespoke resource that you do have to use to publish with them.So those are the key ones that I use. 


JULIE: So we’ve spoken a little bit about the research role. And right at the beginning you did mention some kind of teaching. Can you briefly tell us what kind of experience you have in teaching as a role.

JESSICA: So when I first started 80% of my job would have been teaching and what happened was the school year, there was a massive increase in the number of students and I did not have capacity to reach more than one to one way. So in the first year, I still see all of our undergraduates, and I do similar classes 13 times, but it means it’s a bottoms on seat and they’re seeing me and that’s that it was one contact with the library and building that relationship. But now in third year, I teach systematic searching because research should start at undergraduate level. We cannot have people coming from health hitting you know, MSc level and not having experienced that so they will request you a literature review. By MSC level it’s a systematized review. 

TCD has its own online module on Research Methodology and research tools which Covidence is now embedded into. This is provided for our MSc level and that’s been in place for about four years now. We are very lucky that Covidence has excellent support files so it allows linking to those files easier to ensure the information is current.. There’s a lot of videos, manuals with screen dumps, which actually is really useful for our researchers who tend to be quite diverse learners. So some people like to print with the screen dumps other people like the videos and there is a blending of that. And that is reflected in my own teaching -Nobody learns the same way.

I am also embedded in the School’s virtual learning environment. In there students have a suite of learning resources that build on year by year. So you may start off with CINAHL and Medline in first year but by the end, they have experienced four databases, Using Endnote and will have seen Covidence in action in its simplest form. 

 Much of the material is a combination of print and digital  to support users who may learn in different ways due to neurodiversity, It’s about being giving people options and the way they learn I think that’s really important with work in the academic sector is that you do acknowledge that people have different needs, and to support that as much as you can do and I suppose that’s part of the ethos behind the teaching that I do.


JULIE: In the research environment, we often see distinct groups such as librarians, academics, students, and possibly consumers involved. Robb, could you share your insights on why collaboration among these groups is so crucial?

ROBB: Collaboration is imperative for library visibility throughout the institution. institutional researchers need to know that librarians and library resources are at their disposal at their disposal and should be utilized to research. That is best achieved when librarians, whether General Staff, librarians or library administrators are visible throughout the institutional community. I once had a supervisor who was fond of saying that you must tell someone something seven times before it sticks. Over the years. I found that to be absolutely true. Not so much the specific number of seven times but repeatedly talking about library services or library resources to anyone who will listen anytime, anywhere. You can’t simply mention that a meeting library now has access to this cool new resource. You have to give it context. You have to talk about it repeatedly. And you have to make your message relevant to the people that you’re addressing. That happens by getting out of the library and serving on institutional committees or participating in new mutations. It happens by keeping past information requests in mind when you’re working on other requests. 

You might find an article that could be useful to somebody you did a search for two months ago. And passing that information alone, seemingly out of the blue goes a long way to building rapport with library users. You might be able to connect to people from various parts of the institution who are working on similar projects and they could collaborate. I was a hospital librarian for many years and served on various committees during that time. 

The most rewarding thing that I ever did as a librarian, not specifically research related because I was working in a small community hospital, was saying yes, when the director of the ICU asked me to participate in morning rounds with residents once a week. It didn’t take long until I was going to mourn him every morning. I learned so much in those two and a half years and I was never busier. Not only was I working on literature searches for ICU staff, but I was also doing work for other attendings and residents and interns, as well as nurses, respiratory therapists, dietitians and C suite administrators people who had never utilized library services before. That is a direct result of getting out of the library and being visible in places where the library has not previously been visible. And building that report within the institutional community is how you keep an interest in library services. How you’re able to maintain your library when in hospitals, libraries, are often the one of the first departments that are hit when budgets are considered. So making the library invaluable to the institution as a whole. Not just for research, definitely for research. But across the board is absolutely imperative and invaluable for health care for the patients for and for health care providers.


JULIE: Jessica, I’m just gonna ask you, if you can kind of give a tip if you like about how research librarians can balance their role as researchers with their other work commitments within the library faculty. 

JESSICA: I think awareness of capacity. So you will have deliverables every year that you’re required to provide. Teaching  is a key part of that. I do find my involvement with the research projects, and building a relationship with a research team  is where I get the most satisfaction. It’s more than a relationship that you have with them. So if you’re working on a research project where the team and that academic is delivering teaching and training, they will tell you when a new book is coming out, they will tell you when when there’s a new input of students coming, which allows you to be more reflective and reactive to what’s going on. And then that way you are informed to better prepare yourself for the academic year or another research project. 

Robb was talking about being present, being seen as key. I do attend academic forums. I’m now on the staff mailing list. I have worked hard on those relationships to make sure that I have as much information that I can so that I can really prepare what my work is going to be. I look at capacity. And if there is a better tool out there to save me time, save the academic time, then I’m going to develop a resource. So I have a suggestion box for my students. When I see them in the first year I say, Okay, if there’s something that you’re not getting, and you’re not the only person not getting it, ping me an email, and I’ll create a Panopto video for you. I’ll do a snapshot video, and I’m very dynamic in response to what that student has and that way I’m able to respond to things before they become a capacity issue where I’m having to rerun the classes all over again. 

As I mentioned earlier, I’m integrated into the virtual learning environment, in that I do have everything from beginner videos to several Medline PsychINFO, embase. I use them as a referral point. I can triage a lot of the queries that come in to my desktop now, using  these resources that I built over time allowing me more time to put into research. My research role has grown exponentially, five years ago, I was doing three systematic reviews. This area of doing searches has just grown it away but was not expected. And it is very hard to stay on top of it. You do have to learn to say no, you do have to realise it as much as you would love to do all the sectors and all the projects that are out there. You have to know your own limits as well because if you’re not building a healthy capacity within your workflow and your work from home, it can kind of overrun you as well and it’s quite hard to pull back. 

A good working relationship with the school means you can get Information early and adapt. Another way to manage capacity is  if  there’s a query that keeps coming up. Look for a way to deal with that. So just a really quick example we had our own Nursing Midwifery, academic referencing type. I moved everybody to APA seven last year, and built all the tools and it’s something that evolves over time now and it’s far more interesting. So don’t be afraid to make the hard call and stand up when you’re in those meetings. If you think it’s for the betterment of the entire group, and acknowledge that there’s only so much that we can do and really work clever with the time that you have and look at solutions that are outside the box.


JULIE: Now, we have time for one question, which has come in from Lauri who has asked ‘how do you manage marketing your services, and then having time to do all the research that comes your way as a result?’

JESSICA: So we start off with these absolutely hideous A0  posters with our faces on and yeah, it was pretty horrific walking into the lobby and seeing like, you know,a big picture of yourself.. We have our subject librarian pages lib guides. So there are the static things you can try, and then the human side, and it was a slow process. So I started off just teaching on the programme, building up relationships, and then ended up working with some really wonderful academics that brought me on board. And that was really my route into the research side. 

So really your best PR is the academics for me, because they asked for me, they will send the PhDs to us for guidance. They will encourage me to be involved with articles and projects.

I help them organize their research profiles if they are going for promotion. But the main way to promote anything, is to integrate yourself in research, is to be part of their work flow – it is really a springboard for other kinds of collaboration as a Librarian. 

We also work on my reading list project for the undergrad. So that’s an integrated reading list. And so my name is on all of those as well.I also do one to one meetings with any new academic that starts with the School,  and I also go up to the research education days for our PhDs.  I do an annual lecture on systematized searching and databases. I do informal drop ins at the school,, and I also pop in for their lunches and coffee meetings a couple of times in the year as well. So it’s about being present. I think the first couple of years I nearly lost my voice for the amount of talking I was doing and that has eased up over time once you become established. 

But really getting your foot in the door is the big thing and finding your champions. There are plenty of them out there. It’s just being open to trying it out and really having confidence in yourself that you have work that you make a difference in people’s lives. By being active with academics, showing your skills and helping them speed things up with research makes a big difference.

JULIE: And I think that’s a good point to end the webinar on. 

As librarians, you definitely do make a difference to all of our lives as researchers. So thank you to everyone out there. Thank you to everyone for attending the webinar. We appreciate the time and that you have taken today to join us and I hope you found the discussion valuable I certainly have do take the time to fill in the survey at the end of the webinar as you leave this session, and I hope to see you at one of our other community or other webinars in the future. 

Thank you once again and enjoy the rest of your day or evening. Wherever you are in the world.



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