Highlights from #UKSGlive 2014

My learning round-up from the 2014 UKSG Annual Conference

The future of scholarly communications: David De Roure, Oxford e-Research Centre

Video of talkSlides from talk

The Big Picture: more machines, more people

The Big Picture: more machines, more people

Is journal publishing model still fit for purpose?  Why has it worked so well for 350 years?  He identifies four main trends: shifts in scholarship, end of the article, research objects, social machines

In The Big Picture (see image), David identifies four zones of interaction between more machines, and more people.

“Knowledge infrastructure” can be anything from a journal to a library.  The Data Deluge, now called Big Data.  In future, will research start with data, rather than a hypothesis?  See what patterns emerge, then try to explain?

See also: Beyond the PDF2 conference outcomes, including why we need an open alternative to Google Scholar.

The R dimensions

The R Dimensions

See also: David’s presentation “e-Research and the Demise of the Scholarly Article

David points out the reproducibility [of experimental procedure] is not the same as reproduction [of an experiment].

researchobject.org –  “the Knowledge Hub for the Research Object community, to disseminate knowledge about Research Object, its concept, adoption, and other latest development.”

R Dimensions – “Research Objects facilitate research that is…” (see image) The list of R words was added to during the talk itself via Twitter!

Implementing e-resource access for alumni: Anna Franca, King’s College London

Video of talkSlides from talk

As Anna mentions in her talk, the main issue for e-resources managers is how to set up the authentication so that alumni can access only the pool of resources which include them as authorised users, and not the wider pool of platforms and databases licenced for current students and staff.

Authorised usersSee also: Extending access to academic research content to NHS users: a pilot (Carolyn Alderson) videofurther info

Trust and authority in scholarly communications in the light of the digital transition: David Nicholas, CIBER Research Ltd; Carol Tenopir, University of Tennessee

Video of talkFinal report

This was an interesting report into how academics judge trust and authority in sources they use, and how they view open access publications.  It’s a pity the slides from the talk aren’t available (I’ve nudged the conference organisers and will update this post if they become available).

Traditional indicators of trust include journal name, journal reputation, author expertise.  Now, access issues are also included – reader has to be able to get to the article.

Reality of trust for academics:

  • many read things they “trust” that they would never cite e.g. Wikipedia
  • politics influence citing and publishing
  • cite to protect yourself and add “trustworthiness”
  • publish to help your career – clouds the picture.  Younger academics are more conservative than older academics, for this reason
  • use different criteria for reading, citing, and publishing

Trust in reading is complex.  To decide if a document is trustworthy:

  • read abstract and methodology
  • check for credible data and sound logic
  • look at source’s references – end of first stage, navigational metrics
  • colleague recommendations
  • experience with author – end of second stage, social metrics
  • familiarity with journal
  • peer-review linked to quality
  • impact factor is a factor… – end of third stage, traditional metrics

Tenopir trust in reading

How trustworthiness is determined for citing:

  • known and trusted authority – author, journal, or conference
  • Seminal work in the field
  • Supports methodology
  • Research group/institution known

How trustworthiness is determined when deciding where to publish:

  • traditional metrics still important
  • influenced by promotion criteria
  • institutional research policies
  • audience of a journal
  • likelihood of getting published

Differences by age groups (also disciplines).  Sciences happy with OA if peer-reviewed; Humanities more comfortable with traditional options.  Younger researchers (under 40) more likely to trust non-traditional methods of dissemination e.g. social media, but they conform to norms when dealing with older researchers.  They feel pressure to publish in highly-tanked journals to obtain research grants.

Academics cite people they know because they trust them.  They cite OA journals if properly peer-reviewed.  There is lots of confusion about economic model and peer review in OA, especially among older academics.  Lots of older academics think OA means not peer reviewed!  [Le sigh.]
But…  Academics recognise that there are problems with peer review:

Tenopir Dark Side of Peer Review

They still recognise it as essential, despite its flaws/pitfalls.

Metrics – trust and impact factor:
Tenopir trust and IFAlt metrics did not come up.  Most participants unfamiliar, or sceptical. They like metrics that can easily be understood.  Authors like to see number of views and downloads for their articles – just don’t call it alt metrics!  Popular from publishing point of view, but not from trust angle.
When considering trust in an online environment, connectedness is key.  A link sent by a contact carries more weight than one found by search, for example.

Some common thoughts about Open Access:

Tenopir Open AccessI think there is scope for the library to get involved and help educate academics on this!

The impacts of impact – challenges and opportunities of ‘multichannel’ academic work: Ernesto Priego, City University London

Video of talkErnesto’s article on this topic

Some great quotes:

  • “Publishing – where content goes to die.”
  • “Like reading the first few pages of Morrissey’s autobiography, you soon realise that academics never read any of the contracts they sign.”
  • “In publishing, we’re aiming for collaboration, but what we’re getting is competition.”

I liked Ernesto’s description of scholarly publishing as a network of interconnected outputs – nodes, not monoliths.

Ernesto argued that publishing should be affordable (article/output processing charges, with waivers for students, unemployed etc); sustainable; some (not all) rights reserved; easy to mine; use DOIs; easy to map, measure, track, reproduce, share.  Scholarship should promote a culture of sharing, and it should be rewarding, not exhausting.

  • “Why do we publish? Social, public responsibility in the act of research. Public money, public access.”

JiscLAMP – Library Analytics and Metrics Project

Slides of talk

JiscLAMP was a project to develop a prototype shared library analytics service for UK academic libraries. Find out more at the JiscLAMP site.


ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized” – it’s like a DOI for a person.  Register now to get your ORCID identifier!

ORCID Live - waiting for one to pop up in Antarctica

ORCID Live – waiting for one to pop up in Antarctica

ORCID Live allows you to see IDs being registered in real time – it’s quite hypnotic watching the pins dropping 🙂

Discovery or displacement?: a large-scale longitudinal study of the effect of discovery systems on online journal usage: Michael Levine-Clark, University of Denver Libraries; John McDonald, University of Southern California

Video of talkSlides from talkSummary by Rose Robinson

I enjoyed the statistical approach, and it provided an interesting alternative to the 2013 UKSG report “Impact of library discovery technologies” which was somewhat inconclusive.  See also some earlier thoughts on an ethnographic approach in this area.

The main point to ponder for me was the finding that increase in e-resource use varied by resource discovery interface used, with the greatest increase in use seen for Summon, followed by Primo; and then EDS and WorldCat Local which were similar.

UKSG Runners

And not forgetting the intrepid band of runners who joined me for a run before the conference dinner on Tuesday 🙂  We really should have this on the official programme next year!

2014-04-15 UKSG runners

Open Access Realities – my notes from @UKSG one-day conference

My notes from a one-day conference in London earlier this month, organised by UKSGPapers from the day’s talks are now available at Insights, the UKSG journal, which is now OA and no APCs! 🙂

Damian Pattinson, PLoS One: How are publishers and institutions placed to “really do” OA?

Open Access Map charts the global growth and development of open access (OA) journals.  The annual number of OA articles published is also growing exponentially.

OA works for institutions

  • visibility: media attention, wider dissemination of research, exposure for search beyond the academy
  • measurability: usage, citation, social sharing metrics fully available on each paper
  • article-level metrics (ALM) – example from PLoS One for one article:

1 PLoS One metricsArticle views and downloads, and social media stats:
1 PLoS One social metrics“I look at ALM and Impact Factor disappears.”

Where the article was published becomes unimportant.  Downloading to Mendeley is an early indicator of citation

“Resetting the relationship between publishers and institutions – we now have the opportunity to get publishing working for institutions.  It’s been the other way around for a while.”

The challenges of growth – for publishers

Concept of a megajournal – a term which I take to mean a high-volume online-only journal.  Some (but not all) are OA.  They may have a broad remit it terms of subjects covered e.g. life sciences rather than one subsection thereof.

A major challenge is that of being overwhelmed by papers.

  1. Maintaining quality: upfront checks of competing interests, financial disclosures, ethical oversight. International growth has led to more variation in research and publication ethics, e.g. Animal-related policies. Greater visibility and size means more risk.
  2. Maintaining quality – peer review.  PLoS One receives approx 2,000 referee reports every week! Reviewer fatigue is a growing problem.  They are exploring third party and portable peer review options.  Portable peer review means that if an article has been rejected from one journal because it was not suitable (rather than not good), its earlier peer review comments may be re-used for submission to another journal.
  3. Technical infrastructure: custom taxonomy and categorisation systems;matching papers to people;contributor engagement and education; consolidation of editorial procedures and processes. These things don’t run themselves – can’t leave it up to the academics

Where and when to spend the funds

  • allowing authors to choose where to publish (then find a way to make it compliant with RCUK mandate)
  • getting the message out [glad it’s not just me!].  UCL’s booklet on Open Access was recommended – it doesn’t seem to be available online but here is their OA FAQ.
  • ensuring publisher compliance – could pay money and publisher still puts the article behind a paywall!
  • avoid a return to the old days of bundle packages

Collaboration vs Competition

  • need for shared infrastructure.  To really work for institutions, publishers need to work together
  • need for competition to drive service.  Lots of competition now in megajournal world

The future

  • will institutions go beyond the mandates to realise the full potential of OA?  Need to really understand the research that is going on and how to support it
  • can we convince authors to look beyond the Impact Factor?

“Impact Factor is the scourge of the industry”

  • a bold new world, or a replaying of the subscriptions era?
  • the institutions currently hold the cards, will they use them to their advantage?

Related to Impact Factor, see the San Francisco Declaration – the declaration ‘states that the impact factor is not to be used as a substitute “measure of the quality of individual research articles, or in hiring, promotion, or funding decisions”‘.

Lars Bjørnshauge, SPARC Europe and DOAJ: Make Open Access work!  The moment of truth for academic libraries

“The current system does not serve the needs of research.”

The new system is currently called OA.  There are high expectations of academic libraries.  Can we achieve this reorganisation before someone else tells us how to do it?  It is no longer a question of whether we should have OA – it is now a question of how we make it work.

Green OA good for promoting OA, but Lars sees it as a transitional tool, because the Green OA model depends on the current subscription model, rather than challenging it.

Deposit policies are not commitments, and can change at discretion of publishers.  Explicit support of the hybrid model has seen publishers extending embargo periods.  Support for hybrid isn’t supporting the move to OA, it’s opening up additional revenue to the publishers.

Post-Finch, “The UK Experiment” is now unfolding.  Can libraries collaborate to free up resources?  Lars is not convinced that double-dipping [where publishers accept payment-to-publish as well as payment-for-access, therefore charging twice] is not taking place.

Reallocation of library budget from funds for subscriptions to funds for APCs [article processing charges].  But how?  It’s up to libraries to make it happen.  Libraries are in an extremely difficult position: already stretched budgets, and some are stuck in straightjacket of Big Deals.  Competition for funds to support OA in departments puts yet more pressure on libraries.

The Two Cultures in libraries – licensing managers, and OA advocates.  Two tracks: work on licensing, and get best deal for users; or work on OA, and get most benefit for the university (and for society).

Maybe the solution lies in efficiency gains: move work away from local level?  Staff resources are needed for monitoring journal usage; meeting academics, publishers; authentication and access – all this is duplicated at every university.  There is hardly any selection any more – most purchasing is done through consortia – so the same work is duplicated.

“Could universities give up some autonomy and control to manage these things at national level?”

This would free up resources to drive forward OA at local level, which almost everyone wants.  Libraries  should have the self-confidence to be bolder in their advice about what will work, and to ask for help and support to achieve what stakeholders expect (move funds from old system to new).

Publishers are important, but their role has to change.  They are no longer defining rules of the game.  It used to be that service providers would tell academics how system is going to work.

Research funded upfront; dissemination thereof is not.  It is outsourced to learned societies and then to commercial publishers.

“Publishers are just doing what businesses do: exploiting circumstances to maximise profits.”

Outsourcing programmes should be based on clear expectations from service purchaser, not on terms dictated by service provider.

Michael Jubb, Research Information Network: Finch one year on – a review of progress

Finch was a compromise, trying to balance interests of different players in the scholarly publishing system.  Accessibility, sustainability, excellence.


  • Balanced package of moves towards gold, green, extensions to licensing
  • Clear policy direction towards gold, with better funding arrangements
  • Minimise restrictions on reuse
  • Develop repository infrastructure
  • Caution about limitations on embargoes
  • Future negotiations on subscriptions to take account of growth in APC revenues
  • Expand and rationalise licensing, esp beyond universities system e.g. NHS


Since the Government’s acceptance of the recommendations, RCUK policies have been formulated, there have been consultations on REF, and two parliamentary enquiries.  There is real momentum, but mixed progress.  A lively debate – sometimes driven by entrenched attitudes?

“There is an imbalance between work to increase access to UK-authorised publications across the world, and access to publications from other countries. “

With such a rapid pace of change, attention to detail is important, and are we keeping everyone on board?

There has been real progress in deposit of full-texts in IRs.  Is Green with short/no embargoes the cheap option?  Is Gold the sustainable option?  And what is the position of hybrid journals?

“If the UK moves ahead too fast, it will bear the brunt of the costs.”


Principles for setting embargoes:

  • Half lives
  • Disciplinary differences
  • Protection for learned societies – a separate but important issue

Copyright and licences

Controversy over CC-BY, and perceived loss of control [my view is that current situation already involves massive loss of control – signing over copyright to publishers].

Starting in December 2013, there will be a 2-year pilot to allow free, walk-in access to journals and conference proceedings (from participating publishers) to users in public libraries across the UK.

“The Finch Report recommended that major subscription-based publishers should license public libraries throughout the UK to provide access to peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, free of charge, for ‘walk-in’ users at library premises.

The aim is that provision through public libraries in this way will enhance the ‘walk-in’ access already available at university libraries, and would enable anyone to have free access to a wealth of journal articles and conference proceedings at their local public library.”

However, there has been little progress with libraries in the NHS, voluntary organisations, or SMEs.  Coordination is necessary to ensure that all stakeholders are working together – perhaps there is a need for an overall co-ordinator [without a vested interest].

Adam Tickell, University of Birmingham: Open Access realities – policy into practice

The Finch Report gave great impetus to the sector.  It is taken seriously – in itself an achievement.  The point is to improve access to research done in the UK, and we are no longer arguing over whether this is a good thing.

OA must also been seen in the context of the transparency agenda.  Tony Blair: “my biggest mistake was introduction of the Freedom of Information Act“.  Transparency is especially popular with any party in opposition.  The Information Commissioner (ICo) can determine what the law (F0IA) means.  According to the Protection of Freedoms Act (2012), data must be machine-readable; PDFs are no longer acceptable.  There is also the Public Sector Transparency Board’s Open Data Institute (ODI).  So from a university point of view, OA is just another component of all this.

Challenges of transparency

  • costs
  • compliance (easy for Uni seniors to mandate, but how to do?)
  • commercial confidentiality (applies to research data)

Potential gains

  • enhanced visibility for our research – research more likely to be read, and cited
  • enhance public engagement – core to Uni mission
  • enhanced scientific capacity – benefits of open data (trials in medicine – need replication, and avoid suppression of the “wrong” results).

“The more people who can read our outputs and criticise them, the better for knowledge generally”.

Jill Russell, University of Birmingham: Practical support for OA

At Birmingham, OA is co-ordinated via library services.  Relevance of existing services and contact networks, as well as experience in copyright and licensing, and of working with publishers and agents.

The library in the C20th involved paper and a supply chain – in the C21st, it’s no longer a “dusty library”, and there are lots of servers!

The institutional repository [IR] has become the primary dissemination method for grey literature such as theses, working papers, images, datasets.  The IR provides gratis OA – this was enough of a struggle –  grateful to have a PDF if it means more people can read it.  Machine-readability and re-use [libre OA] is a goal for the future.  Gratis and libre are two degrees of OA: ‘gratis’ is no-cost online access, and ‘libre’ includes some additional usage rights.

The University’s CRIS (Current Research Information System) supports OA as they bothare relevant to Green and Gold, CRIS links info about all research activities, and metadata includes DOIs, URLs.

“CRIS is for life, not just for the REF!”

Gold OA

Jill says that the community is happy to pay a “fair price” for the cost of publishing.  They are working with partners in JISC and other consortia to get value for money, both in terms of access  and distribution.  They used data from previous publications to buy bundles of APCs for popular places to publish – “the quicker we can get work out there, the better for everyone”.  For now, they have a rirst come, first served policy.


  • fewer authors using external OA repositories than anticipated
  • access problem not readily recognised – worked hard to ensure seamless access, and this is the downside
  • publishers reacted well by offering more OA options such as hybrid journals…
  • …but some playing semantic games about whether OA mandated or not

I asked a question about how Russell Group universities appear to have accepted APCs without any discussion, though perhaps this happened internally at these institutions?  I felt that acquiescing too readily to this mechanism of funding OA would cause this to be the only way to publish OA in future, and would further squeeze out those institutions with smaller funding pools.  The reply from Adam was that the Finch mandate was premised on APCs, and this is maintained by HEFCE and research councils.

Caroline Edwards, Birkbeck, Uni of London and Open Library of Humanities: How can existing OA models work for humanities and social science research?

OLH is a megajournal and monograph pilot, designed on the scale of the humanities.  It will advocate rigorous peer review from the start – a sensitive issue in the humanities.  OLH is aiming to launch with no APCs – they are looking to build alternative business model

Caroline believes that sharing and collaboration makes research stronger – and that this is true of the  humanities as well as the STEM subjects.

There is a long tradition of sharing research in the sciences.  How can we borrow and rework these strategies in the humanities?

Alluvium is a platform for OA short-form articles, published through WordPress.  “21st C writing | 21st C approaches”.  2,000-word articles are published here, then worked up and submitted to journals, so it’s like a form of pre-prints.

“Academics are privileged to be able to give away the products of their scholarship for free – they already have a salary.”

How do we fund OA?

OA access is not free.  Options for funding include:

  1. Free labour and free submission e.g. OJS [Open Journal Systems] software, WordPress model mentioned earlier [e.g. Alluvium]
  2. Advertising revenue – not favoured by OLH, but it’s an option
  3. Pay-on-demand
  4. APCs
  5. Library consortia.  Reallocate resources to improve efficiency.  National (or larger) networks
  6. Library Partnership Subsidy (LPS) – currently developing this for OLH.  May only cost £200-300 per year, per library. Free rider problem – would some libraries not pay, as they can access for free? Recent research suggest it’s not as much of a problem as feared

International challenges

  • problem of access gaps, funding inequalities between and within different countries
  • OA is not universal access – barriers and filters, language.  OA is booming in other parts of the world e.g. Brazil, India, Egypt
  • UNESCO’s Global Open Access Portal (GOAP, 2011)
  • International Conference of African Digital Libraries & Archives (ICADLA, 2009)
  • scarcity of expertise and resources
  • issue of OA journals not being internationally recognised

Worry in humanities that OA publishing might not count for REF or tenure, so needed to get high-profile colleagues on board – see ‘About’ section of OLH website.   Need to signal that it is a prestigious, academic-led organisation, with an expanding global editorial network.

‘Humanities’ is used as very broad term, edging into social sciences e.g. legal theory, media theory.  Part of the role is to protect vulnerable and small-scale journals, which can move to the OLH platform.

Vicky Gardner, Taylor & Francis/Routledge: How are subscription publishers making the transition to OA?

We are now in the “third age” of publishing: subscriptions, site licenses, OA.  Increased focus on authors as downstream customers.  Need for publishers to offer choice to authors (service industry): trusted outlet, Green and Gold OA options, subscription option.  Must ensure sustainability of existing titles, in partnership with learned societies.

Ringgold – “Ringgold provides the institutional identifier which enables publishers and intermediaries to connect their data and strengthen the links throughout the supply chain.”

“OA is not yet a grassroots movement.”

Need to adapt to suit the needs of researchers – she is not sure yet how OA would serve those needs.


  • licensing – some academics not happy with it, perhaps because of the mandate
  • green OA – depends on subscription model to survive
  • openness
  • efficiencies

Vicky referred to a “profusion of confusion” about defining OA [perhaps because publishers probably don’t like the Budapest statement (later added to by Bethesda and Berlin)?].

For the avoidance of doubt, here is the Budapest statement’s definition of OA:

By ‘open access’… we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

This was subsequently added to by the Bethesda and Berlin statements, which say that users must be able to “copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship.

Like many commercial publishers, T&F are doing extensive outreach.  [Librarians: we need to do this too – it’s too important to leave to those with a vested interest in maintaining revenue from OA!]

Double-dipping – subscription adjustment policy to avoid this.

“Taylor & Francis takes into account the number of open access (OA) articles published in the previous full volume year when setting subscription prices for the following year. There may be variance from one year to the next as the amount of OA content fluctuates. Despite these anomalies, we remain committed to treating the open-access revenue on our Open Select journals as a means to transition the business model, not as a means of duplicating subscription revenue (or so called “double dipping”).

We acknowledge that the worldwide benefit of an increase in open access content in subscription journals may initially be paid for by a small number of institutions at the forefront of funding open access. We are unable to offer these institutions direct substitution of OA charges for subscription fees, since our commitment to no “double dipping” means the reductions in cost need to be shared across all subscribers. We do offer institutional memberships and prepayment discounts to enable institutions to stretch their open access budgets further.”

Processing APCs is done by a specific team at T&F, and as the system is still manual, it’s less efficient than an automated system.  T&F leave the choice of Green/Gold with the author [I think this is a way of deferring the decision to someone who is more influenced by publisher’s rhetoric than any message from the Uni].

Vicky says that the strength of publishing industry is its diversity, and that it has always been able to adapt in the past.

Steve Stapleton, Open Nottingham: Knowledge without borders

OERs = open educational resources, openly-licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, educational, assessment and research purposes.

Open Nottingham is the University’s policy on OERs, and U-Now it is the University’s platform for OERs.

Xpert is a search engine for open educational resources – it stands for “Xerte Public E-learning ReposiTory” and it was a JISC-funded project.  “The aim of XPERT is to progress the vision of a distributed architecture of e-learning resources for sharing and re-use.”

The University’s strategic drive includes a social responsibility agenda, and excellence in education objective; as well as being a promotional opportunity.  It also makes cost efficiencies by reusing educational materials.  A growing number of Schools [Uni departments] are now publishing OERs e.g. module handbooks.  The University retains copyright in the material rather than signing it  over to a publisher, and there are no embargoes or APCs.

It seems that history is coming full circle as universities once again become publishers! [article on history of university presses]

See also: Future Learn initiative (MOOCs) https://www.futurelearn.com

Peter Murray-Rust, University of Cambridge/Open Knowledge Foundation: The content mine

Peter told us about some software he has developed which “could download all yearly 2.5 million scientific publications and turn into open semantic science” – he is not legally allowed, to from a technology point of view, it is possible.

“The right to read is the right to mine.”

Peter argued that PDF format is a very bad way of distributing information, as it destroys much of the data.  Content mining makes science discoverable, allowing the extraction of facts for research, and the building of reusable objects.  Checking for errors = better science.

“We repeat about 25% of our chemistry because we didn’t know we’d done it already.”

Content mining problems are all legal/licensing, not technical.

It is really important to get people to understand the reusable aspect of OA – not just free access, but access to data files, and permission to re-use them.  Machines can spot doctoring of graphs which humans can’t see –  an example from crystallography: occlusion of spectral peaks that don’t fit required result.

Peter appealed to libraries to reject restrictions on TDM [text and data mining].

I wanted to ask Peter whether instead of reverse engineering the science from the PDF, wouldn’t it be better to campaign for publishing the article in a better format to begin with?  Although I agree with him that the licensing restrictions on TDM have many disadvantages, it does not seem right to me to deliberately flout the terms of the licence that the University has signed with the publisher.  Such an aggressive action does not seem to me to be conducive to ongoing dialogue between libraries and publishers.

Supporting Evolving Research Needs

My notes from yesterday’s “Supporting Evolving Research Needs” conference organised by ALISS, the Association of Librarians and Information Professionals in the Social Sciences.

1. The Systematic Review – is the social sciences librarian involved? If not, why not?

Alan Gomersall, Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Evidence & Policy, King’s College London

Alan spoke of his experience of working with academics involved in doing systematic reviews to inform national policy.  He found that the academics only searched one database (Medline) and did not use synonyms or broader/narrower keywords, or related terms, when searching.  He and a colleague wrote a paper about this, to try to find out why the academics’ research skills were so poor.

His paper identified weaknesses in the systematic review process e.g. Academics ignoring all grey literature on the grounds that it wasn’t peer-reviewed.

Home Office guidelines for systematic review focus on synthesis of findings, not search strategies.  Alan’s work shows that key UK information is being systematically excluded in favour of information from the big-name US databases.

Possible points of failure:

  • Uni library fails to invest in appropriate databases
  • Social sciences librarian & academic staff fail to work together
  • Academic’s poor search skills
  • Too much trust placed in WoK, Sociological Abstracts etc
  • Social sciences librarian never leaves confines of the library

Alan encourages everyone to trial/subscribe to Social Policy & Practice, good source of UK info

Further questions

  • Are UK unis ignorant of the many excellent but small social science databases?
  • Are UK database producers failing to market
  • Are UK library schools limiting student training to a few well-know US services which offer discounts for educational purposes e.g. WoK?
  • Influence of Campbell Collaboration and refusal  by many US databases to accept grey literature

Social sciences librarians must engage with their academics!

Evidence Network site – option to sign up for Alan’s free bimonthly newsletter

Miggie Pickton argues for librarians to be involved in systematic reviews and included in research bids

Centre for Research & Dissemination at York Uni – set good standard

2. What did I do wrong?”a project to support independent learning practices to avoid plagiarism

Helen Hathaway, Liaison Team Manager Science and Information Skills Coordinator,  University of Reading Library

Panic, stress, anxiety, confusion – lots of emotional issues about plagiarism and referencing

Does TurnItIn help with academic practice/referencing? Mixed answers.  May sensitise students to good practice.  Some academics report that it fails to detect plagiarism.

Referen©ite, Uni of Auckland – student voice videos give perspectives on importance of correct referencing e.g. Shows respect to predecessors’ ideas

Uni of Reading have developed re-purposeable resources toolkit – “Academic integrity toolkit”.  Aimed at academics.  It’s meant to be bites iced and incorporated into teaching, not just given out to students for them to read (/ignore).  Considering publishing it as an Open Educational Resource.  For now, guest access to their Blackboard can be arranged.  Contact details here.

Results of research

  • Crucial to go beyond formatting and show role of correct referencing in academic writing
  • Many students failed to engage with skills training
  • Students report lack of consistency and difficulty in finding guidance
  • Implications of alternative academic cultures and experiences (international students)

3. Supporting the Research data management [RDM] process – a guide for Librarians

John Southall, LSE Data Librarian

Digital media formats aren’t future-proof, and researchers have trouble referring back to their notices from 5, 10 years ago if they can no longer open files, or no longer have appropriate disk drive

Strengths of digital media are that it is easily stored, produces perfect copies, great potential for sharing and re-use

RDM includes docs, spreadsheets, research notebooks/codebooks, questionnaires, transcripts, audio, images, videotapes.  A lot of data is generated before any paper is drafted.

UK Data Archive – best practice for creating, preparing, storing and sharing data

Research data objects are acquired or generated during the research process.  Includes protocols and methodologies

Common themes in RDM:

  • Storage and preservation issues
  • Metadata
  • Research ethics (of data creation, of sharing)
  • Data management plan and planning

Other resources:

Not just compliance.  Consider what you would do if you lost your research data tomorrow…

Contact details for John

4. Identifiers for Researchers and Data: Increasing Attribution and Discovery

John Kaye, Lead Curator Digital Social Science, British Library

ODIN = ORCiD (Open Research Contributor iD) and DataCite Interoperability Network

Identifiers such as DOIs uniquely identify research objects.  DOIs assigned by DataCite and CrossRef.  I think the difference is that DataCite makes DOIs for things that aren’t articles, whereas CrossRef assigns DOIs for articles.  ARK = archival research key, a URL to create a persistent identifier.

ImpactStory – view impact of your work using traditional citation metrics and social citations.  Log in using ORCiD details.  See also this introduction to using ImpactStory.

5. Sharing information literacy teaching materials openly: Experiences of the CoPILOT project

Nancy Graham, Subject Advisor (Medicine), University of Birmingham and Dr Jane Secker, Copyright and Digital Literacy Advisor, LSE

OER = open educational resources.  Like CC licence for resources you’ve created.  OER Commons.  OERs are complementary to Open Access, MOOCs, RDM

DELILA = developing educators learning and information literatures for accreditation.  Cross-institutional project to adapt digital and IL [information literacy] resources to OER.

Project CoPILOT – funded by JISC/HEA and aimed to develop a strategy to promote international sharing.  Project is a sub-group of CILIP IL Group.

Mailing list: IL-OERS@jiscmail.ac.uk

Wiki: http://iloer.pbworks.com

Twitter: @CoPILOT2013

CoPILOT – like crowdsourcing of IL materials, gateway of links to sites where materials are hosted.  Good use of tags will be important.

6. Supporting research by becoming a researcher

Miggie Pickton, Research Support Librarian, Northampton University

Miggie’s slides from this presentation

My notes from a similar presentation at Umbrella 2011.  Contact details for Miggie.

Highlights from #UKSGlive 2013

My learning round-up from the 2013 UKSG Annual Conference

Phil Sykes – University of Liverpool – Open Access Gets Tough

Video of talkSlides from talk

SykesIs the triumph of OA is now inevitable? Maybe not – the current situation results from a fortuitous combination of circumstances, such as the political involvement of strongly pro-OA individuals.  We have to provide strong support for OA through our professional bodies and via skilled advocacy on campus.

“Librarians insulate departments and academics too well from the true costs of their journal subscriptions.”  We now have the opportunity to be star actors in the transformation.  Nothing is inevitable, it’s time to get to work.

Jill Emery – Portland State University – Mining for gold: identifying the librarians’ toolkit for managing hybrid OA

Video of talkSlides from talk

EmeryWe need to influence the change in academia not just within scholarly publishing, but also by getting academics involved.  Make recommendations to them on where to publish.  Don’t wait for the invitation – start the conversation on campus.  We need to re-evaluate our budgets and allocate resource for APCs [article processing charges].  Get into marketing and promotion game.

Research and researchers: identity and evaluation Jenny Delasalle – Uni of Warwick – Research evaluation: why is it relevant to librarians?

Video of talkSlides from talk

DelasalleSnowball metrics project – recipe book now available – sets out best practice for how data can be used to support institutional decision-making

Alt metrics [alternative metrics, linked to social web] – open to manipulation, but so are citation measurements.  Opportunities for librarians – the article-level economy is coming, availability of alt metrics will support interest in other kinds of inputs than journal articles.  Researchers want someone with technical expertise who can provide answers and reassurance – librarians can do this.

Laurel L. Haak – ORCID – Connecting research and researchers: ORCID ORCID mission: connecting research with researchers

Video of talkSlides from talk

HaakORCID is an open, non-profit, community-based effort to create and maintain a registry of unique researcher identifiers and a transparent method of linking research activities and outputs to these identifiers”

ORCID is to individuals what DOIs are to articles.

Register for your ORCID iD here.  Can embed ORCID IDs in workflows e.g. University CRISs, manuscript submission, grant applications, links with repositories, linkage with other IDs like Scopus Switchboard.

The new digital students, or, “I don’t think I have ever picked up a book out of library to do any research – all I have used is my computer” Lynn Silipigni Connaway, OCLC

Video of talkSlides from talk


“A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure.” – Henry Kissinger.

Users don’t think that e-resources are library resources.  Users are confident in their information seeking and evaluation skills,and they believe that the same info in multiple places means it’s true…

The learning black market – covert online study habits e.g. they use Wikipedia, they don’t cite it, they feel guilty about it. Some admit to citing the references at the end of Wikipedia articles, even when they haven’t read them.  “One size fits no-one.”

Idea: Create personas from special collections and use them to make social media accounts more personal.

The student-information relationship: a perspective of its evolution – Joshua James Harding, Warwick Medical School

Video of talkSlides from talk

HardingDigital consumption was Joshua’s solution to the problem of many heavy textbooks.  He was an early adopter of IT and is now a paperless student.

Having everything on his iPad means he can do clinics and be able to check details, notes, and carry on with confidence.   Inkling – interactive ebooks, also called smart or multitouch ebooks, including the option to buy chapters. While he studies a textbook, it studies him – maps his progress in terms of what’s been covered, how long spent on each chapter, sets alerts for him to go back and revise specific areas after set times.  Librarians must improve pathways for making this info available to students.

Joshua asks why all paper textbooks aren’t available in e format.  Other problems: fragmentation, reduced variety, variable quality, different platforms and formats…  “Epubs are horrible as textbooks and I urge you, don’t make them any more!”

“I want to be able to annotate PDFs using third-party apps… I think we all want to see the end of proprietary formats.”

Maximising the Knowledge base – the community-driven initiatives KB+ and GOKb – Liam Earney, JISC Collections

Video of talkSlides from talk


Knowledge Base+ (KB+) in the UK; Global Open KnowledgeBase (GOKb) in the USA.

Both projects aim to capture info that libraries need for managing their eresources portfolios and make this information available to other stakeholders too.  KB+ and GOKb share interests in licensing, but GOKb has a greater focus on sharing a higher level of information across many institutions.

Issues surrounding quality and availability of data in the supply chain:

  • Accuracy (many publishers don’t seem to understand what they publish) e.g. They often can’t make lists of what they publish, or sales/back office have different lists… Laughter in the room as this problem is widely recognised!
  • Availability – not all parts of supply chain have access to all info they need; despite huge duplication of effort with many people involved in maintaining various different databases, but which contain broadly the same info
  • Interoperability: spreadsheets, library staff, link resolver, publisher rep, JISC Collections – all have different silos of info about an institution’s subscription.

Open data delivers practical benefits e.g sharing and collaboration, improved accuracy, reduced burden on any one element in supply chain.

“The nice thing about standards is that you have so many to choose from” – Andrew Tanenbaum

… But do please choose one!  Let your data be promiscuous… Set your data free (but tidy it up first!).  Liam noted that titles have longer relationships with institutions than with publishers.

Electronic resources and ILL – a self-contradiction? – Helle Brink, Aalborg University

Helle gave us an overview of inter-library loans in Denmark, and neatly summarised the current situation in which we can often supply digitised print items but have to send print copies of electronic resources (owing to licencing restrictions).

Possible new models for partial access include:

  • Updating the definition of “walk-in user” to include electronic walk-in?
  • Pay-per-view
  • Voucher solutions e.g. 10 articles per year
  • Read-only, no download or print
  • ILL after embargo e.g. 3 months
  • Public access after embargo
  • New ideas?

It seems to me that most problems involving e-resources and ILL arise from the nature of the licences for electronic resources  the terms and conditions evolved from contracts regulating the use of print resources, and they don’t translate well to the new medium.  Maybe it’s time to design e-resources licences specifically for digital media, rather than simply adapting contracts designed for a print environment?

The twenty-year butterflies: which web cookies have stuck in the internet’s pan? – Jason Scott, Archive Team

Video of talk


“There is no rare – there is only expensive” – Juke Joint Johnnie.  Jason says, “There is no gone, there is only forgotten.  If we take the smallest amount of effort to set up things to be remembered, they will never be forgotten.”

Archive Team recognise three virtues: rage, paranoia, and kleptomania.

“Instead of the cloud, I call it the clown.  It’s more descriptive!”

“Tiny URLs are one-time crytographic keypads.  We have discovered link shortening services than re-use short URLs.  I’m not a Luddite, but too many people are putting too much trust in storing things on the Internet.”

Publishers and librarians: we share the same values – why are we fighting? – T. Scott Plutchak, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Video of talkSlides from talk

Scott Plutchak“We are some of the luckiest people alive because we get to be part of this.”

“The challenges are technological, cultural, and social.”

“Librarians and publishers – communities that are two key players, but have diametrically opposed views about how to achieve the same goal of making info widely available.”

I disagree that publishers share this goal with librarians.  Are publishers really focused on access to information? Would they still be interested if it were not for profit?  And the routes into the two careers could hardly be more different – how many publishers do vocational training, or volunteer in the information sector as part of their career development?

I think there is a fundamental difference between librarians and publishers in their perception of the value of knowledge and what happens to it when it is shared – to librarians, sharing knowledge increases its value (especially in research); but to a publisher, knowledge sharing without payment represents lost revenue.

The difference between the price and the value of knowledge, eh…


  • A group of us went for a run on Tuesday evening – the inaugural UKSG 5K?  Maybe it should be part of the official programme from 2014 onwards!
  • A knitting breakout session – another idea for the programme
  • Meeting lots of people from other countries who were talking about their work in English has prompted me to acquire some professional vocabulary in other languages.  I’m starting with ALA’s Multilingual Glossary, which includes French and Spanish
  • Referring to a discovery interface with different resource elements as a “bento box approach” – nice description!
  • I think many people still think of UKSG as a serials organisation, but their remit has evolved in recent years and their current mission is to “connect the knowledge community and encourage the exchange of ideas on scholarly communication” – so if you think UKSG isn’t relevant to your role, perhaps it’s worth taking another look?

Summary of IFLA information literacy conference

Here’s a list of all my blog posts from this conference:

Some ideas which didn’t quite fit in the other blog posts:

  • Not addressing information literacy well in schools creates a problem for universities
  • Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach
  • Encourage students to use Zotero – universities  subscribe to e.g. RefWorks, but if they use that, they’ll lose all their info when their student status ends

It was a great conference – friendly people, fab venue at the University of Tampere, amazing food, free wifi.

Pulla and coffee

I think I’ve got a new favourite country, and it’s Finland.

Update: speakers’ presentations are now available on the conference website


Engaging learning environments for the future

Elizabeth Stone memorial lecture

by Kirsti Lonka, Professor of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki

Kirsti told us about the Designing society through thinking project, which is part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 – I love this idea, and it seems typically Suomi!

Integrated competence as the goal of higher education (HE) – an idea that came from medical education – problem-based learning.  Knowledge is important, but students need to learn how to be self-regulating, to think, communicate, have emotional intelligence, be able to handle stress (theirs and other people’s), think ethically, see technology as a natural part of life.

She introduced us to the sociocultural idea of human mind:

  • Learning always takes place in a context
  • The context relies on culturally and historically developed structures
  • Human mind or brain does not simply ‘grow up’ biologically, but it is sensitive to being nurtured in a human-life environment

The “bulimic learning model” involves taking in knowledge, storing it and regurgitating it for assessment.  This type of instruction aims to fill a container (the human mind takes in knowledge, spreads it on the exam paper, then forgets it).  The goals are defined in quantitative terms e.g. a student scored 60% in a test.  This means they know 60% (of what?).  How do such practices shape our minds?

Modern ideas of learning involve the learner as central in the creation of meaning, not the teacher as transmitter of knowledge (Biggs 1996).  Learning as an active, constructive process rather than a passive, reproductive process.  How do these ideas really apply in HE practices?

What is epistemic agency? (Scardamalia 2002)  Epistemic agency indicates that the students themselves deal with the problems of goals, evaluations, and long-range planning that are normally left to teachers and managers.  Instead of studying for isolated courses and credit units, students engage in personally meaningful study projects.  Epistemic agency and self-regulated learning are valuable aspects of HE.

Our working days don’t roll as out planned, even with meticulous preparation.  We have to teach students how to cope with this kind of fast-paced working life, and how to manage interruptions etc.

Technology is a part of our social and knowledge practices.  95% of young Finns use technology for leisure, but only a very small proportion for education, so they learn that it is a distraction, not a potential work tool.  Blended learning environments combine physical, virtual, social, mobile and mental spaces of learning.

What is interest?  Interest is a psychological state including an affective component of positive emotion and a cognitive component of concentration.  Students who experienced more interest also showed more persistence, and performed better in a recall test.  Caring/interest correlates with results.

Four-phase model of interest (Hidi & Renniger 2006)

Situational interest (CATCH)
A) triggered
B) maintained

Individual interest (HOLD)
A) emerging
B) well-developed

Agency and ownership are so important.

What makes lessons interesting? (Tsai et al 2008)

  • If the teachers control too much, students’ emotions are less positive
  • Cognitive autonomy support gives students an enhanced sense of control
  • Cognitive autonomy is supported during lessons where students’ prior knowledge and understanding are activated and aims are transparent

Such lessons are associated with more enjoyment and interest!

Four-channel model of flow (Csikszentmihalyi 1988)

Four channel model of flow

Challenge and feeling of competence is a recipe for success!

What do Kirsti’s studies show so far?

  • even mass education can be engaging and promote flow
  • academic emotions, especially interest, predict cognitive academic outcomes
  • on the basis of our measurements, can group students into c,uses that react differently in instructions settings:  “cook-book learners”, “theorists”, “reflective professionals”
  • during an engaging lecture, optimism, reflective thinking and student engagement may increase

Creating new knowledge practices

Collectively cultivated knowledge practices have their impact on the nature of learning.  Knowledge practices are social practices related to working with knowledge and they include personal, collaborative and institutional routines.

The knowledge practices of digital natives (those born since 1990) are different. Typically, they multi-task, read from screens, are fond of computer games, make extensive use of social media, use online chat; and outsource many cognitive functions to different technological tools.  Collaborative knowledge construction means connecting people and ideas!

Reflect on what has been constructed collaboratively.  Puzzles and problems are great for deep learning.

New practices call for new tools – Kirsti has been involved in designing new office environments for academics which have multi-level desks, electricity points, space to hide cables, separate space for drinks.  Also, the practices of informatics have drastically changed.  Libraries may support a range of student activities in a flexible learning environment.  The library’s physical space can provide a unique learning experience to the students as well as allowing a new level of social interaction.

23 Things Oxford – a poster at #IFLAinfolit

Last week I attended the IFLA satellite conference The Road to Information Literacy – Librarians as Facilitators in Tampere, Suomi/Finland, and presented a poster about 23 Things Oxford.

@laurajwilkinson and 23 Things Oxford poster

The Moomin images in the poster were used with the kind permission of the trademark holders, Bulls Press.

Here is the full text of the poster:

The 23 Things model – from social media exploration to other forms of information literacy training

1. The original 23 Things idea

In 2006, the original 23 Things programme, Learning 2.0, was designed by Helene Blowers in the USA.

Aim: to introduce library staff to emerging technologies through the completion of 23 things, or tasks.

Participants record their progress by blogging about their experience each week, during which there was a focus on a different set of tools and two or three Things to complete.

Content was delivered through the Learning 2.0 blog, allowing the programme timing to be self-directed by participants.

2. 23 Things Oxford

From my previous experience as a teacher, I could see that students learned most effectively when they were actively engaged in the learning process.

23 Things is user-centred, accessible to both full-time and part-time staff, and allows participants to choose a level of challenge by offering the basic and advanced routes through the activities.

In late 2009 I came up with the idea of modifying the Creative Commons licensed Learning 2.0 programme for Oxford’s librarians.

3. Planning

I assembled a team of web 2.0 enthusiasts to help me with the planning and delivery of the programme.  We only met twice; the rest of the work was done online via Google Docs, in the spirit of the programme.

We created a list of weekly themes and then the 23 Things activities themselves.  We extended the programme from 9 to 12 weeks and added newer tools, such as Twitter.

4. Modifying the programme

We were aware that some participants might be reluctant to sign up to some of the social networking sites and for these tasks we avoided compulsory sign-up.

We attempted to keep the number of different accounts to a minimum; where possible we used Google and Yahoo! services in order to achieve this.

We also decided to run a series of drop-in sessions to provide 1:1 support and additional hardware or computer functionality to which not all participants may have had access e.g. cameras, and sound enabled PCs so they could listen to podcasts.

5. Go live!

23 Things Oxford began on 18th January 2010 and finished 12 weeks later on 9th April.  A new year, a resolution to commit to learning, and a springtime flowering of possibilities and potential for the tools experienced to be used in libraries.

23 Things Oxford was delivered via the Ox23 blog. Each week, 3 or 4 posts were published including an introduction to the week’s theme, step-by-step instructions on how to complete the Things and ideas for exploring the topic further.

6. Themes for each week

  • Introduction and personalised homepages
  • Blogging
  • RSS feeds
  • Online photos and images
  • Social bookmarking
  • Podcasting / YouTube
  • Social networking
  • Twitter
  • Wikis
  • Office 2.0
  • Widgets
  • Summary of experiences

7. Participation

138 members of library staff registered to take part in the programme and set up blogs to record their progress.  82 participants successfully completed the programme.

8. Incentives

We decided that a small incentive was a good way to encourage participants to complete the programme. CrossRef kindly agreed to sponsor the programme in order to fund the prizes. Each participant who completed all 23 Things by 9th April was given the choice of either a £10 Amazon or iTunes voucher and their names were entered into a draw for an iPod Nano.

9. End-of-programme survey

At the end of the programme, all participants (whether they completed successfully or not) were invited to take part in a survey.  The response rate for this survey was 72%.  Many respondents reported increased confidence in tackling something new and improved skill level in using the tools explored during the programme.  They enjoyed the range of tasks and the online community that built up as participants began to read and comment on each others’ blogs.

10. Survey summary

The majority of respondents said they found the frequency, duration and level of the tasks just right. An overwhelming 93% said they would recommend the programme to their colleagues.

23% of respondents to the survey said that they did not complete the programme. The main reason given for this was lack of time. Other responses were that the tasks were too difficult and concerns over privacy and the number of accounts created.

11. Feedback from participants

In addition to the survey responses, we received feedback from the emails and blog posts from of the participants. An area that was often cited as a success was the community, both online and in our libraries, which the programme created.

In the next frame is a selection of comments from the participant’s final blog posts where they were asked to summarise their experiences with web 2.0 during the course of the programme.

12. Quotes from participants

“I’m delighted to have mastered so much & to have explored Web 2.0. I feel much more confident technically & am delighted that, at last, I know what this stuff actually *is*.”

“I felt it was an excellent and timely opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of Web2.0 tools and somehow determine the extent to which they could be effectively used in a University library setting.”

“23 things was definitely a worthwhile program, and I learnt lots, and it’s inspired me to the possibilities of Web 2.0.”

13. The organisers’ perspective

There is no doubt that being involved in the running of the 23 Things programme at Oxford was an enjoyable and rewarding experience. It was also a great challenge. No matter how well prepared we thought we were, we still encountered some issues as the weeks went by; none however were insurmountable.

14. Lessons learned

One thing we were not prepared for was the unease with which some participants greeted the public nature of web 2.0.

We had anticipated that signing up to Facebook would be controversial for some and therefore did not require it for completion of the task that week; however we met similar concerns with LinkedIn and modified the task to reflect this.

Some participants chose to remain anonymous, and created accounts and blogs under a pseudonym.

15. A different type of training

One of the most interesting aspects of the programme was its success as a training programme which staff completed at their desks. A number of participants commented on this on their blogs and expressed a desire to have more training delivered in this way. This was of particular interest as most of the training for library staff at Oxford has previously taken place in face-to-face workshops. Releasing staff to attend such workshops can be problematic, especially in libraries with a lot of part time staff.

16. What next?

Since 23 Things Oxford, similar programmes have been run at the universities of Cambridge and Warwick.  At Oxford, with so many library staff now more familiar with social media, the next step was to use these skills to create or improve the social media presence of Oxford libraries.

As a follow-up, the 23 Things Team ran an event called 23 Things Summer Camp to help library staff with the Strategy, Setup and Synchronisation of their social media tools.

17. Further applications of the 23 Things model

There is great potential for the 23 Things model to be broadened to deliver not just social media exploration, but other aspects of staff development and training.  The structure of the scheme allows individuals to participate at their own pace without being tied to a venue or time of day.  The programme can also be differentiated to allow people with varying levels of prior knowledge to take part at a level that suits them.

18. Main benefits of an online learning programme

Timing is flexible – participants can follow the programme at any point in the week, and are not obliged to attend a session at a particular time

Timing is inclusive – everyone can participate on an equal basis, whether they work full- or part-time

Not tied to a specific location – staff can take part from their usual workplace, without having to travel to a particular training location

19. Examples of other applications of the 23 Things model

Many staff development courses could be adapted for delivery within this model such as:

  • Introduction to the organisation and its history and staffing structure
  • Information about personnel services, pensions, benefits, policies
  • Basic health and safety e.g. fire awareness, manual handling
  • Management development
  • Information literacy
  • Using the OPAC or other web interfaces to library resources

20. Key ingredients of a successful online learning programme (1)

Have clear instructions for each week’s tasks, and keep them concise.

Have specific outcomes for each task, so that participants know what they have to blog about in order to have completed each Thing.  Reflective weeks and open-ended topics are OK but use them sparingly.

21. Key ingredients of a successful online learning programme (2)

Differentiation – participants can choose the task most suited to their experience and ability.  For example, set tasks at novice, intermediate and advanced level for the same topic, so that all participants increase their knowledge, but the outcomes are slightly different.  This helps to engage all staff, rather than aiming a training session at an ability/experience level.

Encourage people to comment on each other’s blogs, to develop conversations and build a sense of community.  Having the organisers take the lead on this helped other people to get involved too.

22. Key ingredients of a successful online learning programme (3)

Support the online learning with face-to-face sessions, so people who are stuck can get help.  This is especially important for those who are less confident with technology in general, as they are least able to ask for help via email and may become frustrated and give up earlier than more experienced users.

Focus on student-centred learning: what have the participants gained from their involvement, and can they demonstrate their new knowledge and skills?  This is the antidote to traditional training in which the presenter tells the audience what they should know, but does not engage with their audience or test their learning.

23. Credits

Thank you to the other members of the 23 Things Oxford Team: Emma Cragg, Jane Rawson, Angela Carritt and Penny Schenk; to CrossRef who sponsored the prizes and to all those who participated in 23 Things Oxford and 23 Things Summer Camp.

Contact details

Laura J. Wilkinson

St Hugh’s College, University of Oxford


Web discovery tools and user experience

This presentation was given in two parts: a perspective from Sheffield Hallam University and a case study from the British Library

1. Matt Borg & Angie DonoghueSheffield Hallam University (SHU)

At SHU they have recently implemented Summon – a shift from systems that librarians know how to navigate to ones that are intuitive.  An excellent user experience requires the right systems

Connecting users with the information they seek is one of the central pillars of our profession.  James Vaughn

Summon was rebranded to “Library Search”.  The implementation of a web-scale discovery service allowed librarians to focus on the process, not the tool, when delivering information literacy sessions.

The trouble with Summon is that students don’t need to be taught how to use it, but librarians do.  Matt Borg via Daveyp

Matt told us about the concept of shoshin, or beginner’s mind: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”  Use the system like a user, not like a librarian.

We are not our patrons

2. Louise Doolan, British Library (BL)

In 2008, the BL had 37 online catalogues.  One of them looked like this:

Old BL Catalogue

The British Library chose Primo as their resource discovery interface, and branded it as Explore.  It was launched in 2012:

Primo at the BL

The old catalogue only indexed about 8% of whole collection; Explore/Primo now indexes 33.5%.  Explore is the main gateway to the collections, but it’s still not the only catalogue.

“We had to take complex Boolean searching away from our librarians.”  The culture change began as a drip feed – they wanted to get the doubters on board.  Theories and an academic framework were used to ensure buy-in from stakeholders who would respond to this type of approach.  Information literary was not mentioned.

A communication and training programme for library staff was initiated to ensure that all staff could support researchers, taking account of users’ variance in information literacy skills.  SCONUL’s 7 pillars of information literacy model was adapted – ‘researcher’ was changed to ‘librarian’, and the ‘evaluate’ and ‘present’ pillars were not relevant in this context:

  • Identify: a librarian is able to identify a need for information to address the research question
  • Scope: a librarian can assess their current knowledge and identify gaps
  • Plan: a librarian can construct strategies for locating information and data
  • Gather: a librarian can locate and access the information and data they need
  • Manage: a librarian can organise information professionally and ethically

Researcher Development Framework (RDF) – describes knowledge, skills, behaviours and personal qualities of researchers at different stages of their careers and encourages them to aspire to excellence.

The adapted pillars of information literacy and Domain A characteristics of the RDF also fed into the BL’s list of professional competencies and are used in appraisals.

Facilitating learning through guided enquiry

Professor Carol Kuhlthau, Rutgers University, USA

The problem is—and this is true of books and every other medium—we don’t know whether the information we find [on the Web] is accurate or not. We don’t necessarily know what its provenance is. So we have to teach people how to assess what they’ve found. That’s a skill, a critical-thinking capacity, which is important no matter what the medium. It’s just more dramatic in the World Wide Web, where there’s so much juxtaposition of the good stuff and not-so-good stuff and flat-out-wrong stuff or deliberate misinformation or plain ignorance.  Vinton Cerf

Common misunderstandings

  • The Internet is a digital library
  • Users are competent, independent and self sufficient
  • There is no need for library or librarian

What value do librarians add to learning in the information environment?

What is the essential role of librarians in 21st century education?

A definition of information literacy (IL)

The ability to locate,


and use information


for learning, thinking and creating.

IL in the 21st century

  • IL is the core of what it means to be educated in the 21st century.
  • It is understanding how to learn and innovate from a variety of sources of info.
  • Literacy is not just reading and maths any more.
  • Textbooks do not put students into the real world of contending with multiple sources of information.
  • Research matters.

To build, sustain and improve a field, use this triad:

  • tradition and knowledge
  • expertise and best practice
  • research and innovation

Constructivist theories tell us that there is uncertainty in learning.  There are three dimensions of experience from the student perspective:

  • Affective – feeling
  • Cognitive – thinking
  • Physical – acting

Model of the information search process (Kuhlthau 2004)

Model of the information search process

Uncertainty is the beginning of learning – without it, we are collecting fact; copying and pasting.

Student quote:

“The mind doesn’t take everything and put it into order automatically… Understanding that is the biggest help.”

It’s not what students expect.

Zone of intervention

This is the area in which an information user can do with advice and assistance what he or she cannot do alone or can do only with great difficulty.  Intervene at the right time.

Potential zones of intervention in the information search process

Invitation – getting started

Selection – background, ideas

Exploration – confusing uncertain

Formulation – focus turning point

Collection – focusing gathering

Presentation – creating, acting, solving

Guided inquiry

Grounded in the research of the information search process [ISP].  Based on constructivist approach to learning in a complex information environment.  The goal is to prepare students for living and working in the changing information environment of the 21st century.  Guided inquiry is what we do; ISP is what the information users do.

Guided inquiry design

This is a framework for you to use to guide your students through the inquiry process.

Guided inquiry design process

The stages are: Open, Immerse, Explore, Identify, Gather, Create, Share, Evaluate.

The third space

Most school learning takes place in the second space – doesn’t mean much to students.

The guided inquiry design process roots the learning in the students’ world.  Transforms the library into an inquiry lab for IL.

Combining the guided inquiry design process into the information search process

Combining guided inquiry and information search

Information workers consider information-seeking a necessary preliminary activity to the more significant endeavour of using the information to accomplish the tasks and goals that encompass their work.  People who are proficient at this process are extremely beneficial to the success of their organisation 🙂

Seamless delivery of learning support services

Seamless delivery of learning support services: an emphasis on delivering programs that “make sense” to students

Vicki McDonaldQueensland University of Technology (QUT)

Vicki’s learning support programme combined information literacy (IL) skills and academic skills such as study skills and strategies.  It was staffed by liaison librarians, academic skills advisors, library advisors, peer advisors.

The approach has 3 levels: extra-, inter- and intra-curricular

  • Generic IL classes
  • IL skills taught in class but separate from course content
  • IL skills taught within context of the course

This approach is supported by the Studywell programme

QUT's Studywell programme

There is also the Study Smart series of tutorials

QUT's Study Smart tutorials

Vicki said that Study Smart was Creative Commons-licensed but the site itself doesn’t state this, unfortunately.  There is also a range of workshops and tours.

In 2010 there was a review of learning support at QUT – main outcomes:

  1. An integrated approach to learning support – acknowledge shared responsibility
  2. Diagnostic evaluation and curriculum integration of learning support resources and activities
  3. Communications strategy – use same words/terminology across divisions

No wrong door‘ approach – all staff are trained to handle a wide variety of questions, and if they have to refer the enquirer to someone else, they must follow through to make sure that the query is resolved.