Thursday 20 March 2014

What do researchers want... and what are we doing about it?

The morning panel consisted of four early career researchers and postgraduate students from across disciplines. Thomas Lewis from Warwick Medical School kicked off with frank insights into his experience of accessing content for his work.
  • The dreaded paywall: it's frustrating to know whether or not you'll have access. You can waste half an hour on it. Not good in a clinical setting as sometimes, access to an article is time sensitive for treating a patient.
  • Information overload: he copes by using: RSS, web browser, social media (esp Twitter), Dropbox for storage and email.
  • He finds more interesting papers through social media than anywhere else.
  • He puts papers in Mendeley as it helps access research when and where he needs it.
  • Metadata and tagging are essential
  • Mobile access is handy - he's not an expert on open access, but knows that mobile institutional login is a nightmare. Can't find research quickly.
  • Can't afford to publish in leading OA journals. 
  • The Impact Factor is outdated. He is interested in discussing research/paper direct. Two-way communication important and good for evaluation: usage, peer review, citations (shared), Altmetrics (eg ResearchGate, Google Scholar, ORCID).
The challenges that he faces as a clinical researcher are:
  1. difficulty finding content
  2. difficulty accessing content
  3. difficulty evaluating the impact of content
  4. difficulty publishing own content
Rachel Gimson is doing a PhD in Criminal Law at the University of Sussex. She expressed a number of frustrations including:
  • papers called by journal name first makes it difficult to identify topics/relevance 
  • she would like to put her own tags and metadata on articles
  • she scans chapters and books, spends a lot of time doing this, which is annoying
  • it's ridiculous to have to pay upwards of £50 for an ebook if you already own the print book
  • there are challenges accessing ebooks via the library
  • she has tried very hard to use some ebooks, but couldn't annotate, download to PC or have useful interaction with it
Gimson uses online annotation service that syncs with pretty much all cloud storage (Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive). There isn't an equivalent to PubMed for law she's aware of so uses Google Scholar to find articles she knows about. Law researchers regularly use Facebook when trying to locate articles among researchers. The paywall can be avoided. It is unnecessary barrier. Paywalls seem so outdated in an age of social media. Why go through library services when you can do it immediately on Google Scholar. Why bother?

What would Rachel like?
  1. Better ebook lending facilities - bane of her life
  2. Better communication between publishers on their databases
  3. More visible means for seeing whether I have downloaded a particular article
  4. Better 'log in via your instituion' facilities
  5. Better communication with Google Scholar
  6. (Very personal request) More articles that use footnotes for referencing rather than in-text citations - Harvard referencing system for example is not good for those with dyslexia.
Lydia Le Page is a physiology PhD at the University of Oxford. At any one time she has a myriad of things to do. Reviewing literature often gets bumped down the list. She uses literature to form hypotheses and to get inspiration, to follow new research and to help understand results. She is also more interested in the wider discussion of science in news media and public. Le Page uses online a lot to find references, discuss with authors, do worldwide collaborations, and to get own publication out there. Le Page has some suggestions for publishers:
  • Is there space for new approaches to peer review for anonymous/non-anonymous review. 
  • How can altmetrics figure? Metrics other than impact factor - retweets, online views, data downloads etc (altmetrics). there is a role for peer review but current system is poor and needs improving. 
  • Peer review system does seem slow, especially to a PhD student. Consider getting data out there pre-pub to get comments? 
  • We need two way communication between researchers, authors and publishers
  • It would be great to be able to attend conference remotely to aid research
  • How to deal with data deluge? Alerts for relevant papers. What is trending. Reddit.
  • Online discussion on PubMed is good function.
  • Ways to improve science communication - alternative media accompanying papers (video, slide shares, animations).

Archana Deshmukh is an Information Studies masters student at Brighton. During her research she used 26% books, 31% journals, 43% online resources (n=295) although all journals were online as well. Information networks have always been complex. She has learnt to view resources from user's point of view whilst keeping critical eye (eg strengths/limitations of apps).

There are evolving models of librarianship - providing critically appraised information at the point of need. Databases are a huge obstacle. They add complexity to the research process. Not only do you have to learn how one, but a different system for others. There are massive usability issues - and she's an information studies student! Discoverability tools help and cushion a bit.

She asks publishers to bear in mind that she's not on campus a lot. She finds ebooks impossible to use. They are producer focused, not user experience focused: NOT intuitive at all. What support does she want? Good UX design, emphasis on mobile platforms, flexibility in access, storing, use, and a semantic approach to content. Deshmukh closed the session by summing up:

'I just want to read, organise and make connections, as I do with all other sources.'

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