Research(er) Workflows in the Real World – A guest review from our bursary winner.

A review of our December event with ARLG from our New Professionals bursary winner.

At the start of December I was lucky enough to be granted a bursary by CILIP’s MmIT (Multimedia Information and Technology Group) to attend the above event, which was organized jointly by MmIT and ARLG.

This was very relevant for my work as part of my role is supporting PGR students.

After a quick update from the British Library about the new Shared Research Repository  which will bring together their current repositories (EthOS, BL Research Repository, etc.), Alison McNab from Huddersfield University introduced the day by talking us through the array of tools that researchers have at their disposal during their research workflow lifecycle, for writing, citing and submitting.

blog research workflow

This was followed by Andy Tattersall from Sheffield University, with a presentation about how researchers can own their research communications so that the media do not misrepresent their research. He recommended that, as librarians, we should promote Open Access, highlight the importance of good engagement with the media, promote the use of ORCID IDs and train academics on the use of social media.

In my opinion, one of the most interesting presentations was by Dr Gabrielle Neher, an academic from Nottingham University, who explained the role of the librarians in her institution as co-creators for her research.

Jeroen Bosman and Bianca Cramer from Utretch University Library advocated the use of open infrastructures for research.

They have researched and mapped all the tools currently available and created the diagram below.

blog research workflow 2

For them, the main reasons for supporting common infrastructures were:

  • For collaborating
  • To support researchers when they move to other institutions
  • To prevent vendor lock-in
  • As an exit plan (disaster recovery)
  • To support community-based development and innovation
  • To contribute to common infrastructure

However, they admitted that institutional policies mean that open source will not always be the preferred option. To find out the best option within these constraints, they have created a tool that compares all the available options and helps researchers decide which one is the most appropriate.

They finished by giving examples of closed vs. open source tools and encouraged all librarians to promote the open source tools.

blog research workflow 3

After lunch, Andy Appleyard and Alison Selina from the British Library focused on the UKRR (UK Research Reserve) which has freed up huge amounts of space in academic libraries through co-ordinated de-duplication, while preserving a national collection and continued access for researchers.

For the British Library, document supply peaked in the mid-90s. Demand has dropped since, mostly due to Google, big deals with publishers and declining acquisition budgets. The British Library has responded to these challenges by sourcing from third parties, concentrating on niche areas and building on their brand and trust.

Their current strategy focuses on four strands:

  • Customer retention
  • Diversification
  • Open Access
  • Living Knowledge

Unfortunately, one of the presenters, Jez Cope, could not attend because of illness. Luckily, Sally Halper from the British Library filled the gap with an excellent presentation on their recent research with users and non-users, which found that most people want instant access to information, free WiFi, quietness, bookable rooms for collaborative working and subject-specific research workflow 4

The last session of the day was an excellent UX activity facilitated by James Rennie.

First we had to do an individual sketching exercise when we had to draw what “Research” means to our users.

My superhero angel librarian was a success!blog research workflow 5

After that, in groups, we had to map the experience of a new user in our library, what their goals are, their feelings and the services that they encounter.

All the slides from the day are available at

Thanks to the MmIT for sponsoring me to attend this event. I met lots of interesting people, learnt lots and I am already applying what I learnt to my job.

Eva Dann


Information Consultant for the School of Engineering, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Royal Holloway, University of London


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s