Publication Details

McAlpine, K. & McIntosh, L. 2015, 'Honing the edge: an integrated model for supporting eresearch', ALIA Information Online 2015 : at the edge, ALIA, Sydney, pp. 1-13.


Like many academic libraries, the University of Wollongong Library jumped into eResearch with the offer of Government funding through Australian National Data Service (ANDS). Contributing to the ANDS Seeding the Commons project provided the University with the opportunity to resource formative infrastructure development of eResearch services, however, without an institution-wide framework in place, the UOW Library's involvement in these services failed to achieve the traction needed to enable these services to grow. As libraries and information professionals look to secure their place in emerging research-focused industries, it is becoming increasingly important to identify our relevant strengths and unique skills when defining the role we will play. With motivators such as the emergence of citation information for research data, and changes to funding body requirements, research data is gaining traction as its own marker of research impact and success. The push for making data open, reusable, and accountable is increasing, with libraries, including those in the non-academic sector, now faced with opportunities to demonstrate the relevance and flexibility of their traditional skills in this space. There has been much discussion on the re-skilling or redefining the roles of librarians, inevitably leading to the emergence of new Library roles and teams to support eResearch. Working within an academic environment in which research data has not yet achieved the same standing as publications, UOW Library took a pragmatic approach, integrating support for eResearch within existing roles and skillsets, bypassing the adoption of 'edgy' titles or complex specialised systems. The Library already has experience with managing publications, authority control, application of metadata, persistent identifiers, copyright advice, repository management, training, academic outreach, and has well-established relationships across the University. UOW Library is collaborating with the UOW Research Services Office (RSO), Information Technology Services (ITS), and a crosssection of academic researchers in the development of a simple, yet effective institution-wide eResearch framework to define support services for the registration, storage, description and discoverability of research datasets. Identifying and recognising that requisite skills already existed to support eResearch within existing structures, defined the Library's role (and value proposition) within this framework, demonstrating that libraries can still be serious about supporting research data in a holistic service delivery approach. The methodology adopted by the UOW Library for defining its place in an eResearch framework has a broader application beyond academic libraries. The framework itself is scalable, and demonstrates that a library can support eResearch without recourse to major changes in roles and support systems: the skills needed are often available. As special and public libraries increasingly work with researchers and independent scholars who are generating their own data, the principles derived from UOW's eResearch framework can assist other libraries in demonstrating their value in new ways to client communities.