Becoming a (Research) Data Librarian: Starting from project officer - Pt 1 - 13 May 2014

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Becoming a (Research) Data Librarian: Starting from project officer - Pt 1 - 13 May 2014
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Cathy Miller from the University of Adelaide takes us through her journey from project officer to research data librarian. Part 2: Becoming a (Research) Data Librarian...the adventures of Philippa Broadley Part 3: Becoming a Data Librarian: Managers perspective - David Groenewegen - 13 May 2014 Data Librarian, Data Services Specialist, eResearch Specialist ...these job titles are becoming increasingly common in libraries across the higher education and research sector. And for many librarians, data management is, or is likely to become, a component of their role. So, what do these roles involve? What challenges and opportunities does data management offer librarians? Hear three librarians talk about their experience working in the area of research data management. How did they get involved? What do their roles involve? What skills and experience did they bring to the role? What new skills did they need to acquire? How do they see their role evolving? In a recent interview, Dr Brian Schmidt, a Nobel Prize winning researcher at ANU said: "Our work could be substantially aided with libraries providing systems for working with and curating data... Ideally, we would have librarians taking on increasingly specialist niches, across many institutions. In our library, we are bringing in more staff who have expertise in data management" Learn more about this growing career niche. Hear first hand from those who have made the move to a data management role within their institution.
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so I'd like to welcome everybody today to the webinar my name is Jerry writer and I work for the Australian national data service and it's my pleasure to be chairing the webinar today it's my pleasure to introduce our presenters today who are scattered across the country and are joining us from their desktops as i am here in adelaide our first speaker today is Kathy Miller she's also in Adelaide and she is a research librarian at the University of Adelaide secondly we will have Philippa broadly who's up in Brisbane Philippa wears more than one hat at QUT and one of them being a research data librarian hat and finally we'll have David groeneweg on who's in Melbourne and is director of research infrastructure at monash university so three terrific
speakers today so I'll pass over to Kathy to get us underway well thank you
very much to you Jerry and to and for inviting me to speak today I've um I've been at the University of Adelaide for a little over three years now and I've actually had five different job titles in that time so by a necessity my presentation today is going to be a bit of a timeline of the developments at the University that led to these different roles but I also wanted to touch on the skills and the experiences that I've developed along the way so it's going to
be very much a personal story and hopefully some of the experiences I've had might have some relevance for other people out there as well so research data management engagement at the University of Adelaide started in mid 2009 and was championed by Vanessa Bayer our digital services librarian now her persistent efforts led to the university libraries leading an ants funded project
which was called seeding the commons and that began in early 2011 which is when
the position of research data project officer was advertised I was at the time
working outside of libraries and my most recent library experience at
that time was as senior librarian at the Gold Coast Institute of TAFE but in early 2011 I was back in the adelaide and i was in the unlikely position of doing some sales administration for a local brewery so needless to say i didn't think i was in a very good position to win the role when i saw it advertised but in hindsight it was the skills and the experiences that I acquired outside of libraries which really helped me in applying for that role the seeding the Commons project was a new opportunity for the University of Adelaide we had of course set deliverables and we had a lot of support from the universities around the country who were already involved in Anne's projects but there was also a lot of uncertainty the methods for achieving the project outcomes and the project plans were not dictated at all so the project was from the outset very open and as a consequence the role that I applied for required skills in project planning and I had a experience in project management from a previous role outside of libraries as I said where I have been responsible for coordinating large groups of stakeholders in revising and developing training packages so I was able to draw on that experience when I was preparing my application and also during my interview to describe to the interview panel how I thought the projects might progress so on the right of the screen I'm starting to list some of the skills but that I think are important in in this role and project coordination in my case has been an important skill but also the ability to communicate plans and two others are is also an important skill that I've helped me to get that position in the first place but also skills that I've continued to develop along the way now the bulk of the project work that we did in the first 12 months either took place outside of the libraries or it was work that we hadn't been engaged in in the library before so in the case of work outside of the libraries a lot of the work was meeting researchers in their offices to conduct research data interviews and the work in the library was was using systems and standards that my colleagues hadn't had experience with before things like research data Australia in certain cases I really felt I needed to be able to think on my feet and troubleshoot without being able to refer to procedures because there were none and I mentioned planning was a key part of the role but also there was a surge of uncertainty that we couldn't plan for the university libraries hadn't done a project like the ceilings the Commons project before so we in many ways didn't know what sort of response we would receive from our research community and that's why I've listed troubleshooting and being able to cope with ambiguity as key skills because thinking on your feet and being able to revised plans very quickly were important skills particularly in the early days of the project the skills that I develops been put me in a good position for my next role at the University which was as a project officer on the university's metadata store project which was another and funded projects to implement an institutional research data metadata store here at the University so in that position I worked not only in the library but also in the university's technology services department and that's really where I hit my next week learning curve that project was my first real exposure to software development and in addition to picking up some new technical skills I had to become very quickly acquainted with the software development lifecycle and begin to speak the language of my new colleagues and my project manager and the team of developers that I was working with so I spent a significant amount of time in the early stages of that project reading and familiarizing myself with project work flows in templates and that experience really gave me a much better understanding of systems and the processes used by my technology services colleagues I mentioned that and I think it's important because research data management is a field that touches many university departments and it's very closely linked with IT and I think that any development of skills or experiences relating to technology certainly can't hurt working in research data management so in my story that exposure to IT projects happen to lead to another opportunity in 2013 at that point I returned to the university libraries as research data librarian and I was primarily supporting the rollout of our metadata store called data connect but I also had an opportunity to be seconded part time to technology services and I took a short terms the convent there as a business analyst on an e research
strategy project it was a good opportunity because I was able to contribute a lot of my experience and knowledge about research data management at the university into the project but I was also able to learn more broadly about a research at the University including the current and the potential use of high performance computing and II research tools and how those relate to research data management so I didn't know it at the time but in hindsight that exposure definitely played a role in me coming to be in the position I'm in now in 2014 earlier in the year we wrote a proposal for a university library's research support service and that included the role of the e research librarian proposal was accepted and the position went ahead and when it was advertised of course I applied for it and was really happy to be able to get that role and start only last month in the position of a research librarian so in this new role I'm really covering a lot of the same grounds that I have covered before I still have responsibility for research data management engagement in education as well as promoting data connect a metadata store and delivering training around research data management I provide a lot of one-on-one guidance with individual researchers about planning for research data management as well as working with different groups of researchers on the best way for them to manage their research data management responsibilities and I find that communication really underpins everything that I do I think the good research data management is largely a matter of common sense and it's really about being able to communicate it and logically and systematically step through a workflow with people to help break down issues and to help develop strategies and solutions that are going to work in managing data sets in addition to that work around research data management I also now have a role in planning and developing a broader a research support service that gives the university libraries a biggest scope to engage with technology services and to support researchers in using research tools and other research services within the university but beyond the university as well at this very early stage of course our plans are still in development but the conversations we've had so far have been very exciting and they're pointing to the library having a much stronger role in brokering solutions and working collaboratively with our colleagues around the university so the last three years now into the 40 years have been quite a journey and indeed every universities research data management journey is different for every organizations as well in my case I've been really fortunate to have been involved in the succession of projects at the University of Adelaide i started in that role as research data project officer 2011 and i'm still here which is lucky for me a project contract is an excellent way to learn and apply new skills and i think it makes you a much stronger candidate for the next position so i really recommend any involvement you can have with other projects as opportunities for development they also offer you a chance to to look at your organization from a different perspective and to identify opportunities that you might not see in everyday at business and particularly with the ends funded projects that we conducted here they were not confined to one area although they were based largely in the university libraries they they had a institutional wide remit so I was able to communicate with a really broad range of colleagues across the university on those projects and build up relationships around the university that have helped me to develop my communication skills but they've also helped the library to gain recognition in this area I think in many ways now in this role as a research librarian I've gone back to square one as I've started in the initial role because I'm using those exact same planning and communication skills now that I started with to develop this new year research support service so I noticed Jerry that when this webinar was advertised it was it was titled becoming a data librarian everything you wanted to know but in my experience I think it's really impossible to know everything about the job because every day brings something new and as you can see from those five different job titles I've had in such a short time there's a real ongoing evolution and changing around the support model in terms of responding to different researchers needs and new and emerging needs as ID requirements and project funding and different government initiatives influence the the sector so for me I think it would have to be a continual evolution of communication and engagement with researchers that underpins the role of the research the librarians thanks so much Kathy
that's fantastic and a really interesting insight into your journey and the University of Adelaide journey over the last three years so we'll move straight on now to Philippa from the QUT