The Role of the Librarian in the Research Life Cycle: Research Collaboration Among the Library and Faculty

The Role of the Librarian in the Research Life Cycle: Research Collaboration Among the Library and Faculty

Josiline Phiri Chigwada (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0043-9.ch017

Abstract

This chapter documents the role that is played by the librarians in the research life cycle and how they collaborate with researchers. Initially, librarians were regarded as service people who provide research support services during the research process. A literature review was done to unpack how this role was affected by the digital technologies and examine the partnering role that is now being displayed by librarians. It was noted that although there are some challenges that are encountered, researchers are collaborating with librarians from idea generation to the dissemination of research findings and evaluating the impact of the research. It was recommended that librarians should move along with these changes and should continuously develop themselves so that they are aware of the services that they are supposed to provide during the research process.
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Introduction

Library support for research has emerged as a strategic issue in research institutions leading to research collaboration among librarians and faculty members. Li (2014) notes that librarians in research institutions are developing research support services which are used to partner with researchers throughout the research life cycle from idea generation to results application. This was caused by massive technological changes in the area of research, knowledge production, publishing and communication (Scobba 2011). Corrall (2014) adds that digital scholarship and the emerging issue of research data provides librarians with an opportunity to offer research support services and become research collaborators. Librarians are now actively involved in the research process since research is now being done with teams from different locations, institutions and disciplines as data driven cooperative projects. In addition to collection stewardship, resource procurement and providing information literacy training, librarians are now offering customised search services and providing research impact services such as citation tracking (Vaughan 2013). Librarians are now working with researchers to identify grants and other funding, identify potential research collaborators and data management and retrieval. Chang (2018) adds that collaboration between librarians and researchers were caused by the complexity of research problems, opportunities that are offered by collaboration as well as encouragement from science policies to collaborate. It is against this background that the chapter seeks to examine the role that is played by the librarians in the research life cycle and how researchers and librarians are collaborating in the digital era. The objectives of the chapter are:

  • 1.

    To examine the role of the librarian in the research life cycle.

  • 2.

    To discuss the challenges that are faced by librarians when collaborating with researchers.

Collaboration Enablers

The library is regarded as the hub of any institution and as the first port of call when doing research. The following transformational trends that were noted by Scobba (2011) are collaboration enablers:

  • 1.

    The use of evolving collaborative technologies and social networking sites.

  • 2.

    Development of tools to support mobile access.

  • 3.

    An emphasis on instructional technology services and information literacy.

  • 4.

    Promotion of embedded librarians who are members of the research team.

  • 5.

    Reconfiguration of library space to support learning and research.

  • 6.

    Digitisation of shared library collections.

  • 7.

    Assumption of leadership in scholarly communication and publication issues.

  • 8.

    Development of services supporting data management and curation.

These trends have changed the way librarians and researchers work since they are now partners in the research life cycle. Librarians are now part of research teams in research institutions as they assist researchers from writing research grant proposals, doing literature reviews, publishing the research output, and managing the research output and the data. This led to the development of data driven e-research communities and librarians are engaging in instructional services where researchers are taught how to use print and electronic resources, the scholarly publishing process, referencing, and plagiarism among others. Gessner, Eldermire, Tang and Tancheva (2017) indicate that research librarians have always been collaborating with researchers in the research life cycle although this has been centred on the acquisition of materials and searching for information.

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