International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries

IATUL News Alerts

Archive February 2011

Social media: A guide for researchers

Monday, 28 February 2011 7:58:07 p.m.

This guide will show you how you can use social media to help your research and your career. Social media have big implications for how researchers (and people in general) communicate and collaborate.
Researchers have much to gain from engaging with social media in various aspects of their work. This guide will provide you with information to make an informed decision about using social media and enable you to select wisely from the vast range of tools that are available.

Given the buzz in the media, you may feel that social media are aimed at teenagers and mainly used to discuss celebrity culture. But this guide will show you how social media offer researchers an opportunity to improve the way they work. One of the most important things that researchers do is to find, use and disseminate information, and social media offer a range of tools which can facilitate these activities. The guide discusses the use of social media for research and academic purposes, rather than the many other uses that they are put to across society.

This guide will show how social media can change the ways in which you undertake research, and open up new forms of communication and dissemination. The researchers we interviewed in the development of this guide are using social media to bridge disciplinary boundaries, to engage in knowledge exchange with industry and policy makers, and to provide a channel for the public communication of their research.

The guide is rooted in the practical experience of its authors and of the ten social media users we interviewed as part of the project. We are not trying to present social media as the answer to every problem a researcher might experience; rather, we want to give a ‘warts and all’ picture. Social media have downsides as well as upsides, but on balance we hope that you will agree with us that there is real value for researchers.

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Bibliographic Indeterminacy and the Scale of Problems and Opportunities of "Rights" in Digital Collection Building

Monday, 28 February 2011 7:55:42 p.m.

The research library community has little strong or reliable data on the number of unique books in our collections and their "rights"—for example, whether they are in the public domain or in-copyright and, if in-copyright, whether they are orphan works. At its foundation, this problem is created by the dearth of reliable bibliographic information, or what I've been calling bibliographic indeterminacy. For example, we'd like to know how large the "collective collection" of all (or even just all North American) research libraries is, and how many unique volumes research libraries hold in aggregate; otherwise, there's no way to know the cost of digitizing or caring for these materials. We'd also like to have a better handle on the question of what's in the public domain and, by extension, what's in copyright. We'd like to know how many orphan works there are, or perhaps what proportion of the digitized content we have online is likely to be orphans. And while these questions and more are regularly part of the conversation around digital collection building, they're also relevant to more conventional library problems such as print storage and particularly shared print storage. We don't know what's in the collective collection.

The fact is, we have little reliable data about most of these questions. There's been considerable speculation in the wake of the proposed Google Books settlement and even years before, when we first considered the probable shape of the growing digital collection or the opportunities in front of us. Our biggest impediment to getting a good bearing on questions of the size, nature and rights status of research library collections is the simple lack of an authoritative bibliography.

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Horizon Report 2011

Monday, 28 February 2011 7:54:47 p.m.

The internationally recognized series of Horizon Reports is part of the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project, a comprehensive research venture established in 2002 that identifies and describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact over the coming five years on a variety of sectors around the globe. This volume, the 2011 Horizon Report, examines emerging technologies for their potential impact on and use in teaching, learning, and creative inquiry. It is the eighth in the annual series of reports focused on emerging technology in the higher education environment.

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Supporting researchers with advanced digital technologies: an approach for institutions

Monday, 28 February 2011 7:53:33 p.m.

Digital technologies are changing the way researchers work and the research that can be done. Some researchers are using and developing advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) to answer challenging new research questions. Others have little awareness of the potential technologies might offer their research. How do institutions support researchers who may span both ends of this spectrum? This briefing paper reports on the findings of a recent JISC-funded study that set out to answer this question.

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Acquiring High Quality Research Data

Monday, 28 February 2011 7:52:33 p.m.

At present, data publication is one of the most dynamic topics in e-Research. While the fundamental problems of electronic text publication have been solved in the past decade, standards for the external and internal organisation of data repositories are advanced in some research disciplines but underdeveloped in others. We discuss the differences between an electronic text publication and a data publication and the challenges that result from these differences for the data publication process. We place the data publication process in the context of the human knowledge spiral and discuss key factors for the successful acquisition of research data from the point of view of a data repository. For the relevant activities of the publication process, we list some of the measures and best practices of successful data repositories.

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RefShare: A Community of Practice to Enhance Research Collaboration

Monday, 28 February 2011 7:50:54 p.m.

The Phytomedicine Programme of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria is a multidisciplinary and collaborative research programme investigating therapeutically useful compounds present in plants growing in South Africa. The programme investigates problems in the wide area of infections, especially microbial and parasitic infections in the process of training postgraduate students. They co-operate with many specialists in other areas in the application of extracts and isolated compounds to improve the health and productivity of plants, animals and humans. The approach is multidisciplinary and students and collaborators come from diverse fields such as biochemistry, botany, chemistry, microbiology, parasitology, pharmacy, pharmacology, physiology, plant pathology, plant production, veterinary sciences and zoology. The phytomedicine laboratory expertise is in extraction, bioassay and isolation of bioactive compounds from plants.

Their clients are students, scientific collaborators, industry involved in phytomedicine and users or potential users of phytomedicines. In 2007 it was designated as a National Research Foundation Developed Research Niche Area.

This article will focus on Refshare as a tool to support a community of practice and to promote research collaboration in the Phytomedicine Programme. It will also look at the role of the information specialist to promote information services to support research in this discipline. It will illustrate how the information specialist plays a role in facilitating the community of practice, becomes closely aligned with the faculty department, to support education innovation and research excellence.

As many of the postgraduate students are situated off campus, often outside South Africa, the focus is on electronic information products and services for easier retrieval of information, group interaction, information sharing and collaboration and the digital preservation of intellectual products of the Phytomedicine Programme.

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