Supporting Scholarly Communication (Part 2)

This is part 2 of a two part post about the ways in which a Liaison Librarian can help support scholarly communication. You can read part one which covers how a librarian can support Research, Data Collection & Analysis and Authoring here.

Just as a quick refresher, this post came out of a job talk on the ways in which a liaison librarian can support scholarly communication at every step of its life-cycle I was asked to give during a recent interview. It is based around the scholarly communication life-cycle model used in the ACRL’s Scholarly Communication Toolkit: Research, Data Collection, & Analysis, Authoring, Peer Review, Publication, Discovery & Dissemination. As mentioned above my first post covered Research, Data Collection, & Analysis and Authoring, now for Peer Review, Publication, Discovery & Dissemination.

(Fair warning the interview was for a liaison position in the STEM fields and therefore what follows will be focused in that direction, but a lot of it should be applicable in other fields)

Peer Review

This is the hardest step in the life-cycle to support. The clearest way to help would be by verifying and gathering literature from citations. There is something which would be much more helpful though, and that is to continue the ongoing conversation about peer review. What new methods are being experimented with, where it is falling short, where it is working, and, when possible, use those conversation to inform new research.

Publication

The landscape of scholarly publication is in a moment of flux. There are many reasons for this from the still continuing shift to digital first publishing to social movements like 2012’s The Cost of Knowledge protest against Elsevier. This has led to amazing things like journals which can be run for less than $500 a year using platforms like Scholastica or Episciences or just simple arXiv overlay websites. These new cheap journals give an opportunity to librarians and libraries to help scholarly publication move beyond the corporate structure into a new era of open scholarship, and hopefully save a lot of money in the process.

Take for example the new journal Advances in Combinatorics. It was set up by mathematical luminaries like Timothy Gowers and Béla Bollobás because they wanted a high impact journal that was also ethical and open. They were able to create this journal because the library of Queen’s University in Toronto saw the important role such a journal could play and agreed to manage the journal and pay its small cost. While libraries should also help support publishing by helping pay for things like open access article processing fees, hopefully we see more projects like this journal. As Gowers wrote in a blog post announcing the journal, ‘there are almost certainly other libraries that would be interested in following the enlightened example of Queen’s University Library and supporting a journal (if you are a librarian reading this, then I strongly recommend doing so, as it will be helping to weaken the hold of the system that is currently costing you orders of magnitude more money)’

Discovery & Dissemination

Within this step of the life-cycle there are two main types of support a liaison librarian can offer: author support and post-publication support. Author support can look like helping to maintain author profiles on services like ORCiD and Scopus or by tracking the metrics for an author’s publication over time to help with things like grant applications or tenure reviews. Post-publication support can look like making sure a publication is archived in institutional repositories, indexed with services like the aforementioned Unpaywall, and trying to connect research and researchers to those who will help tell the story of the research to the outside world such as institutional press officers and outside media (librarians likely already know which authors like to write about the subjects they support after all).

 

As you will have no doubt noticed, and as at least one person during my interview pointed out to me, this is a very ambitious list of ways in which a liaison librarian can support scholarly communication. Do not worry about whether or not you would be able to do all of it though, it is meant to be a comprehensive survey not a job description. Every university and every department within that university is going to have a different set of needs and wants. I just hope you can keep this list in mind as you try and determine how you are going to support those lovely researchers who will depend on you much more than they will ever understand.

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