Researcher Skills Development. 29th November 2010, ICOSS, University of Sheffield

Venue: ICOSS (Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences) - Location Map

Preparation: Prior to the event, attendees may find it helpful to look at VITAE's Researcher Development Framework and Researcher Development Statement (if you only read one thing, read this).
The Research Information Network has mapped examples of good practice in information-handling training at HEIs against the relevant bits of both the RDF and SCONUL's Seven Pillars of Information Literacy -the mapping document can be read here (towards the bottom of the page).

09:30 Tea and coffee

10:00 Welcome and Scene Setting. Martin Lewis, Director of Library Services & University Librarian, University of Sheffield
Martin welcomed all those who'd made it through the snow to get to the event. He outlined the value of cooperation across services within HEIs as well as cooperation between HEIs, for example, the long standing 'trusted relationship' between the three White Rose partners. Library services face many challenges including the reduced physical use of the library in some subject areas, adding to the 'distance' between researchers and the services that support them. Are there further opportunities to collaborate to improve our research support services, including handling research data? Martin suggested the Ithaca Faculty Surveys as a useful measure of library users' attitudes towards library services and scholarly communciations.

10:15 Icebreaker
Participants completed the sentence "When I hear the words "research support" I think of...." with as many responses as possible. Well done Group A who came up with over 62 suggestions in a short space of time! Responses are here and are Wordled below.

Wordle: White Rose Research Information Forum Icebreaker 29/11/10

10:30 VITAE, the Researcher Development Framework and support for researchers in the future. Tony Bromley, Senior Training and Development Officer and Co-ordinator, Vitae Yorkshire and North East Hub, University of Leeds
Tony's very informative presentation outlined Vitae's work in promoting researcher professional and career development and introduced Vitae's Researcher Development Framework (RDF). RDF identifies key areas of knowledge, skill, behaviour and personal qualities needed by successful researchers and maps these competencies to different research career phases. We face a number of challenges in continuing to support researchers - not least from funding constraints. The UK is a world leader in the field of researcher support; Tony asked us to consider what world leading library support for researchers should look like.

10:50 Introduction to group work on how Libraries and other services can make use of the RDF to promote skills training. Stephane Goldstein, Head of Programmes, Research Information Network.
11:00 Group discussion and report
Stephane introduced a practical exercise related to the RDF. Each discussion group was allocated one or more "key descriptors" from the RDF and asked to consider (i) current provision at their institution (ii) potential future provision - with particular emphasis on identifying areas for future development, improvement or collaboration. Discussion concentrated on PhD students and early career researchers - though groups were welcome to consider support across all phases of researcher development.
Group responses

12:15 Lunch sponsored by Epigeum

13:00 Epigeum and Research Skills Online (demo and questions). David Babbington-Smith, Co-Founder and CEO, Epigeum
Epigeum is a spin-out company from Imperial College, London. David described how Epigeum creates its online courses, emphasising the importance of designing-in significant interactivity. David suggested an intensive online course can deliver as much content in 90 minutes as three hours of face to face delivery. High quality online courses are expensive to produce and the pedagogy needs to be tailored to online learning. Epigeum works with a number of institutions to design courses to support research support, teaching and learning and leadership and management. Courses are designed to be installed in local VLEs. David demoed parts of the course "Entrepreneurship in the Research Environement".

13:30 Researcher@Leeds. Paula Fallon, Research Staff and Postgraduate Training & Development Officer, ISS, University of Leeds & Jas Singh, Theology and Religious Studies doctoral student, University of Leeds
Paula described the origin of the Researcher@Leeds programme.The main aim is to equip researchers with skills to improve their online presence, including building a personal website and considering what Web 2.0 technologies may be helpful in their research/ dissemination. the course is attractive to participants as they have a tangible outcome at the end of it. One participant, Jas, described how the course had been beneficial for his research. The skills he gained helped him promote a questionnaire aimed at young British Sikhs, which forms an important part of his PhD research. Jas's web site can be viewed here. Jas suggested an effective online presence would become increasingly important for employability in the future.

14:00 Teabreak

14.15 Share and the Hive Community - Employing Web 2.0 Tools and beyond for Research and Collaboration. Andrew Tattersall, Information Specialist (Electronic Networks), ScHARR, University of Sheffield
Andy's enthusiastic presentation encouraged us to embrace web 2.0 technologies. The internet has shifted from connecting computers to connecting people; it's important that IT infrastrucutre maximises our opportunties to take advantage of these key developments. A "culture of restriction" is to be avoided. Don't assume that either students or staff are familiar with new technologies or their potential. Andy discussed some great web tools, including netvibes, pearltrees and mendeley. Most attendees took away one - or several - new tools to look at in more detail.

15:00 Reflections on the day & national perspective. Stephane Goldstein, Head of Programmes, Research Information Network
Stephane drew together some of the day's discussion themes. He noted (i) the hapazard take up of web 2.0 technologies; we need to understand more about why this is the case: is it trust, applications' utility or complexity, lack of time - or simply lack of awareness. (ii) Support for supervisors: what is available, who provides it, what can we do better? (iii) Fragmented research skills delivery - we all need to be more aware of who is doing what. (iv) Regional initiatives: a regional research support forum is being discussed by RIN - if introduced, this would include a variety of research support professionals - as well as library and information professionals.
Stephane outlined RIN's role in bringing together interested parties and fostering dialogue about many aspects of research support. RIN has been important in applying an information literacy "lens" to the RDF.

15:30 Discussion / wrap up

Collated feedback from the event is available.