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


Reports on technology trends in higher education and in HE libraries

Two significant reports on technology trends in higher education have been published recently:

  • The 2018 NMC Horizon Report has been published by EDUCAUSE.  The Report identifies and describes the higher education trends, challenges, and developments in educational technology which are likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry.  The 2018 expert panel identified six important developments in technology for higher education (and the likely timescales to adoption): analytics technologies; makerspaces; adaptive learning technologies; artificial intelligence; mixed reality and robotics.
  • Technology and Tomorrow’s Students: how new tools will transform the undergraduate experience is published by The Chronicle.  The focus of this report is on exploring higher education’s use of technology and implications for the future in the key areas of managing data; student enrollment; enriching student advising; and improving career services.

In addition, in June the ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee published their biennial review of the trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher education: 2018 top trends in academic libraries.  These are: the publisher and vendor landscape; fake news and information literacy; project management approaches in libraries; textbook affordability and OER; learning analytics, data collection, and ethical concerns; research datasets acquisition, text mining, and data science; collection management; acquisition model developments; open access collection development policies and funding schemes; and legacy print collections.

Open Access Week 2017

OAlogoOpen Access Week is a global event which provides the research community with an opportunity to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation.

Many MmIT members are engaged with aspects of “Open” access to research publications, data, software and educational resources.  Our Group journal, MmIT Journal, moved to an Open Access model this year (and earlier issues are also now openly available).

The focus of our January 2017 meeting and AGM was “Open…”.  Talks included:

How is your library or service celebrating #OAWeek 2017?

The digital transformation of research support

MmIT Committee members Andy Tattersall and Alison McNab recently ran a workshop on The digital transformation of research support at The Northern Collaboration 2017 Conference: Digital Transformation – responding to the challenge in academic libraries.

Andy Tattersall and Alison McNab

The workshop explored the potential for the creation of a specialist role working with researchers and aligned to the digital skills of the library and information community.  This followed on from Andy’s blog post Following the success of the learning technologist, is it time for a research equivalent?


Workshop delegates considered which digital, research and library competencies they already had that could contribute to the role of an academic/research technologist. They then suggested other attributes and discussed those ones they would most like to focus on. It was a really good opportunity to discuss these embryonic ideas at the conference. The findings from this workshop will form more presentations and writing as we explore this idea further.


Free ebook: The digital academic

the-digital-academic-resources-and-information-to-help-you-enhance-your-researchA free ebook, The digital academic: resources and information to help you enhance your research has recently been made available by It covers guidance on tools and resources to use for your research and online that can help you save valuable time, as well as how to distribute your research to a wider audience in a number of creative ways.

The content of the book is based on a workshop, The Digital Academic: Tools and Tips for Research Impact and ECR Employability.  Andy Tattersall, Chair of MmIT, was one of three speakers at the workshop.

As part of its focus on Digital Citizenship, aspects of supporting the digital academic were discussed at recent MmIT events:

Delivering on Digital: Digital Transformation and the Information Professionals – Workshop Leicester De Montfort 23rd Jun

MmIT Graphic

Following on from our very successful half day event at Newcastle in March and our Webinar in May, we are delivering yet another workshop for MmIT members and non-members.

Digital capabilities are more important than ever within the library and information community and the people they support. Digital capability is essential for all wanting to flourish in modern society and library and information professionals can support this. The half day workshop will explore how library and information professionals can help shape and support these capabilities for the individual, organisation and community. The purpose of the three talks is not only to help professionals provide a better service befitting the 21st Century but also improve their own digital capability skill sets and show value to their organisation.

Kimberlin Library
De Montfort University
The Gateway

Leicester LE1 9BH


MmIT Members – Free
Non MmIT Members £50
Bookings can be made via Eventbrite:


12.00: Registration & networking lunch

12.30 – 12.40: Welcome by MmIT

12.40 – 13.30: Seek Sense and Share: The Information & Knowledge Manager as Change Agent – Virginia Power, University of the West of England.

Information & Knowledge Managers in a library & information service often have responsibility for seeking new opportunities to create a knowledge sharing environment and drive the use of collaborative social media tools to enable broader capture and sharing and promote innovation. They are often key players in the introduction of systems, approaches and processes which capture the intellectual capital of the organization and seek out continuous improvement opportunities. In this lively session we will unpick the role of the Information & Knowledge Manager to discover our digital capabilities using top KM tools and techniques in support of the quest to be a true Change Agent. Come and be prepared to interact!

13.30 – 13.50: Break/ networking (tea, coffee & biscuits)

13.50 – 14.40: A digital research cycle for the 21st Century and how to support it – Andy Tattersall – Information Specialist,  University of Sheffield.

The research cycle is changing dramatically and there are countless new technologies and platforms that academics can use to support their research process. From making their work open and reusable to its wider dissemination, there are a lot of opportunities to shake up the scientific system. For many academics their digital capabilities are not developed to a level to fully engage with these new ways of working. Library and information professionals are embedded in all aspects of this cycle and there are opportunities to be found with the latest developments afforded by technology. The purpose of the talk will be to explore the new research cycle along with opportunities to support it and up-skill the digital academic. In addition show some of the tools and technologies that will ensure academics come to you first when they need help.

14.40 – 15.30: The Horizon Report – Dave Parkes – Director of Library and Learning Services, De Montfort University

David has been involved with the New Media Consortium (NMC) Higher Education Horizon report since 2009 as well as an expert panel member of the more recent NMC Library Horizon Report. The work is an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. Every year the Horizon Report identifies six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology tied to essential questions of relevance or policy, leadership, and practice. The three sections of this report constitute a reference and technology-planning guide for educators, higher education leaders, administrators, policymakers, and technologists. The report discusses the importance of ‘digital fluency’ and how to manage ‘knowledge obsolescence’. David will explore these themes, the implications for libraries and provide an insider guide to the creation of the work.

15.30 – Questions and close

leics workshop copy

Essential tools and technologies for the library and information professional Webinar – 15th May 2-3pm

What tools and technologies should you be using as a librarian or information professional in 2017? Join the CILIP special interest group MmIT as we host our first webinar to discuss and shortlist the most relevant tools you can employ as part of your work right now. We are joined by four members of the Multimedia and Information Technology Committee to look at tools and technologies new and old as well as answer any questions you may have.

Adobe Spark (4)

Register here

Join the live session by clicking the link below:

You can ask questions in advance via the Twitter hashtag #AskMmIT17 , tweet us directly on  @MultiMediaIT or by going to TodaysMeet Room

Luke Burton

Luke Burton completed his MA in Library and Information Management in 2008 and became a Library and Information Officer with Newcastle Libraries in 2010 as part of their Information and Digital team.  He became manager of the Business & IP Centre Newcastle in 2013 and was responsible for co-ordinating and contributing to intellectual property support, business information and business support to small businesses in the North-East. In late 2014 Luke became the Digital Transformation Manager for the Community Hubs, Libraries and Parks within Newcastle City Council where he leads on transformation, development and implementation of digital services within libraries and customer services. In April 2017 he was appointed as  the Digital Delivery Manager for the Community Hubs, Libraries and Parks within Newcastle City Council. Luke is particularly interested in copyright, open data, new technologies and culture change within organisations.He tweets as @biblioluke


Alison McNab

Alison McNab is an Academic Librarian at the University of Huddersfield whose current focus is on supporting researchers at all stages of the research cycle.   She has regularly pioneered the implementation of new technologies and resources, with a focus on their use to enhance service development and delivery, and for much of her career had a specialist focus on the marketing and exploitation of e-content.  Her professional interests include accessibility and assistive technologies, current awareness and trend-watching, e-content, information literacy, mobile learning, scholarly communication, and the use of social media by libraries.  She has contributed to the wider profession by writing, editing, speaking, and through membership of the management committees of MmIT, UKeiG and the UKSG. She tweets as @AlisonMcNab


Virginia Power

Virginia Power is Graduate Tutor/PhD researcher at the University of the West of England. Virginia has over 40 years’ library and information services management experience within educational and cultural heritage sectors. She lectures in Information Management and Science and is also a PhD student in the field of social knowledge management and digital resource curation. Virginia’s particular interest is in technology for learning and open education, specifically the use and re-use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and her PhD is focused on researching the role and impact of social knowledge and narrative in the use and re-use of OER. Virginia specialises in the development of staff digital skills within cultural heritage and corporate knowledge settings. She is also co-editor of eBooks in Libraries: a practical guide published by Facet Publishing. Virginia tweets as @PowerVirg


Andy Tattersall

Andy Tattersall is an Information Specialist at The School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) and writes, teaches and gives talks about digital academia, technology, scholarly communications, open research, web and information science, apps altmetrics and social media. In particular, their application for research, teaching, learning, knowledge management and collaboration. Andy received a Senate Award from The University of Sheffield’ for his pioneering work on MOOCs in 2013 and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.  Andy is also Chair of the CILIP MmIT Committee. He has edited a book on Altmetrics for Facet Publishing which is aimed at researchers and librarians. He  tweets as @Andy_Tattersall


Register your place here.


Join the live session by clicking the link below:

The session takes place in an Adobe Connect webinar – headphones and a microphone are advisable, but the microphone is not essential. You can also join using a tablet or smartphone with the Adobe Connect mobile app.

We look forward to meeting you online soon! If you have trouble joining and the guidance below doesn’t help contact us at



If you have never attended an Adobe Connect session, a quick start guide can be found at:

Adobe Connect provides an online connection test for troubleshooting connection problems. This tests the four key components for a successful Adobe Connect experience:

  • Flash Player version
  • Network connectivity to the Adobe Connect Server
  • Available bandwidth
  • Acrobat Connect Meeting Add-in version

You can access this test at the following URL:

Following the success of the learning technologist, is it time for a research equivalent?

Andy Tattersall

With so many scholarly communications tools and technologies now available, how do academics decide which are most appropriate for their research? Andy Tattersall suggests it might be time for a research equivalent of the learning technologist, a role that has helped drive innovations in teaching underpinned by technologies. The research technologist would be embedded within the university department, make recommendations on appropriate online tools, provide technical assistance and also offer guidance on accompanying issues of ethics or compliance. With the right ongoing support, academics can improve the communication, dissemination and impact of their research.

The research cycle is changing rapidly and a lot of that change is due to the proliferation of technologies and websites that support the research process. Many of the most useful tools have been captured by Jerome Bosman and Bianca Kramer in their excellent 101 Innovations in Scholarly Communications. Whilst this work is a great help to those aware of it, the reality is a majority of academics are either unaware of or unwilling to engage with the myriad tools and technologies at their disposal (beyond social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, ResearchGate, etc.). There are several reasons for this: workload and deadline pressures; fear of technology; ethical implications around their use and their application, especially when it comes to third party software; or too much choice.

The usefulness of these tools has been recognised by major publishers, who have made certain strategic investments in order to create their own research cycle workflows. So if the likes of Elsevier are looking to use these tools to change the research ecosystem, this should be of great interest to anyone who publishes with them, right? But with so many tools available, how do academics navigate their way through them? How do they make the connection between technology and useful application? And who helps them charter these scary, unpredictable waters?

Image credit: A Multitasking Busy Guy by uberof202 ff. This work is licensed under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Lecturers and teachers have their pedagogy, what do researchers have?

If we look at applications of technology and social media in teaching, we can see more clearly how things have been implemented. Post-2004 and the advent of Web 2.0 there was an increased uptake of technology in the teaching community. The advent of virtual learning environments aided this, with the ability to employ discussion forums, blogs, video and, more recently, social media. Of course research has also taken advantage of these tools but the difference with teaching is that it was often led and facilitated by the learning technologist. This group of centralised, university-educated professionals help drive teaching innovations that are underpinned by technology – the clue is in their job title. The technology itself does not drive the teaching innovation but can help initiate and improve on it. By championing technologies with teaching staff, technologists have helped refresh higher education, making it more fit for the 21st century. They have helped shape learning and teaching through approaches such as blended and flipped classes, video and screen capture, fresh forms of assessment, use of mobiles, and social media. In many cases the innovation is led by the lecturer but, like research, in most cases it requires a good degree of guidance to get them there.

The research technologist

Whether we call it a research technologist or digital academic specialist, this role would not be too different from its learning technologist counterpart. It would support research and its dissemination in the use of video, animation, infographics, social media, online discussion, mobile device use, and social networks, to name just a few technologies. The learning technologist applies pedagogical reasoning for their technology choices, and the research equivalent would need to assess the same considerations. Not only that but good communication skills, information literacy, and an understanding of data protection, ethics, and what constitutes a good technology – and how it can be applied to a specific research setting in a sustainable and timely manner – are all essential. For example, the use of video to disseminate research around speech therapy would potentially be more useful than an infographic. In the same way, an infographic published in a blog post might be a better way of conveying the results of a public health project.

The reason why in-house support could benefit the practice and dissemination of research is that researchers are very pressured for time, and often don’t know what they need regarding research technologies and especially dissemination. Secondly, when they do know what they want, they often need it “as soon as possible”. These two problems are more solvable within the department, especially as researchers often don’t know where to go for specific help. The research technologist would be a designated, focused role, embedded within the department. They’d be a signpost to new ways of working, problem solving and, most importantly, be able to consider all issues of ethics and/or compliance when passing on advice. They’d become the “go-to” person for anyone wanting to use technology as part of their research.

More than just using technology

The issue of employing more technology in your research comes with various challenges. For example, with research that is sensitive, controversial or otherwise likely to attract negative attention, using social media does come with many issues. Instructing researchers to use Twitter to communicate their research is all well and good until they receive negative comments, especially abusive and threatening ones. Something like Twitter requires a technical explanation (e.g. how to use the block function or employ a dashboard like Tweetdeck) but also advice around negative comments, how, if and when to respond, when to block, and, in some cases, when to report to the platform, your institution or the authorities. Another example might be the copyright issues around ResearchGate or YouTube. Unless time is spent helping researchers understand how to use these tools and what the accompanying major issues are, those researchers will remain reluctant to use them at all. Additionally, the more those who use them have bad experiences, often through no fault of their own, the more likely others will see good reason to navigate around such opportunities. One bad experience on social media could put a researcher off using it for good. With the right ongoing support, these technologies can, in an impact-driven environment, help communicate and disseminate your research to wider audiences.

The role I am fortunate to have, information specialist, is akin to a learning technologist but I work more closely with researchers these days. My role was established a decade ago to look at how technologies can be leveraged to support my department. That extended to research and teaching staff, students and our own academic library. In that time I put my department on the path to their first MOOCs in 2013, edited a book on altmetrics, and championed Google Apps, as well as the use of video and social media on campus. Whilst I have seen the creation of new roles around learning technology, marketing and impact, there remain areas of support that fall between the cracks. This is where I pick up much of my work, supporting research and teaching colleagues around the use of video, infographics, social media and the many less attractive associated issues, like copyright, security, ethics, and the negative impact on productivity. I work closely with the centralised departments, which benefits all parties involved, and carry out some teaching, marking and write the occasional paper. In effect I am a hybrid model that is, hopefully, better able to understand the needs of all involved, including the centralised departments that work so hard to support researchers.

For teaching, which has always required librarians, IT technicians, and marketing experts, the learning technologist does not replace these roles, but complements them. The establishment of learning technologists within departments has helped bring teaching forward to take advantage of new technologies. For the same to happen within research it needs institutions to consider the learning technologist and explore whether there is value in developing an in-house research equivalent, a kind of “Swiss Army knife” professional, who can exploit the burgeoning number of opportunities afforded by the many new technologies out there.

Originally published in the LSE Impact Blog and republished under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License