Navigating the World of Scholarly Communication

One of the biggest changes that resulted from my new position is the move from a 2 year institution to an institution that offers graduate degrees. I have the chance to work with students with a huge range of information needs and to work with faculty who may be deeply involved in their own research and writing endeavors. It’s slow this summer and I’ve only met one faculty member, who I believe is currently an adjunct and therefore not working on tenure, but I may have faculty members working on their own tenure in the future. I knew that one area I needed to learn more about when I came here was scholarly communication.

I was lucky at Cleveland to work with a few amazing professors who were working on their own research, and one in particular who was very concerned with getting his students to learn how scholars communicate through their work and through other avenues. This helped prime me for the work I’m getting a chance to do here. My first week at UCF I had the (amazing) opportunity to meet with many of my new colleagues in their spaces. I kept noticing this giant, full color poster scattered around various offices. UCF has a Scholarly Communication Department, and one of their most visible projects is the (ongoing) development of the Research Lifecycle at UCF. The Research Lifecycle is “a unified model of campus-wide support and services available to UCF researchers.” I love it because it includes the library at multiple points throughout the process, and helps people new to the process to become familiar with both the steps one takes and the support available when working on research. Two of our librarians are presenting a poster session on it at ALA on Sunday afternoon called “Connecting the Dots: Defining Scholarly Services in a Research Lifecycle Model” if you’re attending!
Shortly after I started, I got an email announcing a Scholarly Communication training being held at UCF and I quickly RSVP’d to the two day session. The training was facilitated by Stephanie Davis-Kahl from Illinois Wesleyan University  . The slides she used throughout her presentation are part of the “Scholarly Communications Roadshow” developed by ACRL. The presentation was lecture heavy in the beginning, but completely packed full of helpful resources and examples. UCF invited the librarians from nearby Rollins College to attend, and it was interesting to hear their perspective since they are so vastly different from UCF (small, private, etc.). Later in the first day and the second day had more opportunities for small group and large group discussions on various topics. Personally I thought it was extremely helpful and useful for me to sort out what I knew and figure out where I need to improve my knowledge.
I was aware of the need for scholars to prove the value of the medium where they publish, but unfamiliar with the resources used to determine this value. The discussions on altmetrics being developed to argue the value of a scholarly work was fascinating. I think that this is an area where librarians can help our faculty and graduate students, but also help facilitate conversations on the changing research landscape. I read a post by Lauren Pressley yesterday on blogging vs. peer reviewed publishing that really drives this point home.
Another big takeaway was something academic librarians can always be reminded of: always approach faculty with how things benefit them. That’s easy to do with discussions on peer review, journal vetting, and altmetrics. Another way we can do that is by helping them understand their copyright rights as authors. The training included a wonderful exercise where we read contracts from different journals and discussed how restrictive/open they were and how we could use that information to talk with faculty. Getting faculty comfortable with open educational resources is another avenue for communication. We can help them to discover and use these varied resources (textbooks, articles, websites like MIT’s Visualizing Cultures, etc.) to enhance the work they are doing with students and in their own scholarly endeavors. I’m extremely grateful to be working for an organization that provides opportunities for professional development and I’m looking forward to using my new knowledge in this area in the future.
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