Event report: Bangor TeachMeet on “Librarians Supporting the Research Lifecycle”

Dr Beth Hall, Research Support Librarian at Bangor University, has kindly provided a report on the recent TeachMeet event hosted by Bangor University and sponsored by the CILIP Information Literacy Group.

Bangor University TeachMeet: Librarians Supporting the Research Lifecycle, May 2017

The Welsh Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) Research Group, with sponsorship from the CILIP Information Literacy Group, held a TeachMeet on the topic of “Librarians supporting the research lifecycle” at Bangor University on 10th May, 2017.

The WHELF Research Group organised three parallel events in Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor in the same week in May to reach out to as many library staff as possible who are interested in the topic of supporting researchers.  There was some flexibility in the way the three separate events were organised, and those of us organising the Bangor event decided to look at “information literacy for researchers” as one of the main themes of our event.

We started the event with a light lunch and a chance to network; an excellent opportunity to catch up with colleagues from different departments within Bangor University, but also with colleagues joining us from Aberystwyth University, Glyndwr University, Grwp Llandrillo Menai, Hywel Dda University Health Board, and Natural Resources Wales.


The first speakers at our event were two colleagues from the Research and Enterprise Office at Bangor University: Claire Davis, Research Assessment Manager, and Dr Cornelia Thomas, Head of the Pre-Award team and European and International Funds Manager.  Claire and Cornelia talked about their roles in supporting researchers, their strategies for engagement with researchers, and external pressures on research staff.  At Bangor, the Library and Archives Service and the Research and Enterprise Office have a close working relationship, and this has enabled us to deliver, along with colleagues from IT Services, some very successful joint projects, including the roll out of the PURE system, and a research data management service.  This talk went down well with the audience, who particularly took note of how researchers respond well to support from Claire when they are addressing specific requirements of external funding agencies –  “The REF stick helps with engagement”.

I then presented a series of slides written by myself and Tegid Williams, Information Services Manager librarian at Natural Resources Wales, describing the current support we offer for researchers accessing our services.  When putting together the slides, Tegid and I found that, despite being from two different sectors, there were common areas of support that we are delivering across both our organisations.  We found that we have more in common than we first might have thought, taking into consideration how differently the researchers behave according to the different motivations of University versus Public Sector Government organisation.  These areas are: Open Access publishing, in-house publishing, research data management, training and guidance for researchers, providing access to research collections, digitising print collections, and some degree of specialist support, where staff capacity allows.

After a coffee break and further informal discussion, we had three very interesting presentations from three research staff working on different topics.

Dr Kirsten Ramsay described her work and that of her colleagues in the Subtidal Ecosystems and Marine Vertebrates Team at Natural Resources Wales.  The team have a wide range of duties, from advising on development and implementation of marine legislation strategies, to monitoring and reporting, marine incident planning and response, and much more; all of this work has to be underpinned by scientific evidence.  The team rely on access to the latest scientific research in journals, scientific papers and in research and organisational data.  Because the team are often working to short deadlines, they often need this information immediately or at very short notice.  As well as using Google, they rely on the library services and staff at the library to provide access to in-house reports, journal content and bibliographic databases such as ProQuest.  Staff need to be kept up-to-date with current research in their area, and they are grateful for the Journal Tables of Contents that the library staff are able to provide them with.

Dr Siân Davies is a lecturer in adult nursing at the School of Healthcare Sciences at Bangor University, and is also the research officer for the ResINPUT study (Realist evidence synthesis: Implementation of Nursing workforce Planning Using Technologies).  Siân talked us through the methodology of realist reviews and how they differ from systematic reviews, and she talked about the support she received from me as a costed-in information specialist; I can recover my time on the project from the grant funding, which allows me to provide more than the usual support we would offer to researchers carrying out systematic reviews.  Realist reviews involve a lot of iterative searches and cluster searching techniques, and researchers are looking for snippets of information that are sometimes hard to find.

Helen Williams-Ellis described her research into Catrin o Ferain, a Welsh noblewoman of particular historical significance.  Helen has had to visit many special collections to locate interesting documents, letters, books and paintings held in libraries and archives across Wales, the UK and the rest of Europe.  Helen talked about the challenges of accessing material, and highlighted the different (sometimes frustrating for her) rules and regulations for access at different institutions. Helen also made a point of saying how grateful she is for the support she has had from library and archives staff everywhere she has visited.

All three of our “researcher” slots went down very well with the attendees. Having a better understanding of who researchers are, and how they work, does help us to ensure our services are meeting their needs.

Group discussion

Tegid Williams ended the day with a group discussion that considered the following points:

  • How to raise awareness of available library support
  • The importance of engaging with researchers, and liaising with other sections of the organisation that support researchers
  • Understanding the external pressures on researchers
  • Resources available to support us, e.g. material produced by Vitae, and sharing material produced across WHELF
  • How best to use information literacy terms and frameworks with researchers who don’t recognise these concepts
  • The need to try out a variety of information delivery routes to ensure useful training tips and information about changes in access to resources are delivered effectively to time-poor researchers. This includes informative webpages, online videos and guides, and making sure we are available when help is required.

We hope to act locally on some ideas around promoting our support to researchers and re-thinking our training offered to researchers.  We will also be writing a report for the WHELF Research Group, putting together the outcomes of all three events from across Wales; this will be made available on the WHELF blog.

Are you planning to host a TeachMeet or other IL event? Apply for ILG sponsorship! More information can be found on our CILIP webpages.

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