Week 11: Research support

What’s on in Week 11

This week we have a Twitter chat on research support services and you have a blog post to write on the same topic. See you online on Monday night!

Twitter chat

When Monday 10 October, 6pm – 7pm
Topic Research support
Twitter Chat Champions This week’s Twitter Chat Champions are:

  • Kylie Burgess
  • Kim Godbold
  • Kaz Wolf
  • Chloe Pickard
  • Paul Tan
  • Imbi Josey
Hashtag #ifn614researchchat
Questions Q1 Should librarians create more partnerships with researchers and contribute actively to research projects? How?

Q2 What sort of activities should librarians be involved in? What is the domain of the librarian? The researcher?

Q3 Can you see any possible negative impacts of an increased focus on research support in academic libraries?

Q4 How important is subject specialisation to effective research support? Are librarians subject experts? Should they be?

Can’t participate in the Twitter chat? Check out the Storify archive

New to Twitter chats? Check out our Twitter chat tips.

Upcoming due dates

This week

Type What When Where
Assessment Week 11 Reflection Sunday 16 October, 11.59pm Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the prompt and post to your blog

Next week

Type What When Where
Assessment Week 12 Reflection Sunday 23 September, 11.59pm Check the Week 12 page for the prompts


Research support is big business in universities, and over the last five years or so, research support has increasingly been a strong focus for academic libraries. Traditionally, liaison librarians have provided some support to academics in their research practice, but more recently, research support librarians have taken on the role of providing a cohesive portfolio of products, programs and services, and training other library staff to provide research support.

The state of research funding in Australia impacts on the need for robust research support services. The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently released a new set of priorities for research funding that are geared towards supporting medical and scientific research. This is likely to have an enormous impact on researchers in other domains because linking to the ARC priorities is impacts on the likelihood that your work will be funded. In 2013 (and beyond), there was heated discussion about ‘wasteful’ research, where the value of research in philosophy, the humanities and the social sciences was questioned by politicians and the media. Winning funding is hard work, and there is evidence to suggest it’s getting harder. Government funding is declining. There has been criticism of the way funding is allocated in Australia. It’s really tricky business.

Librarians are uniquely positioned to provide support to academics in all aspects of their research. They can help with development of funding applications. They teach researchers about data management. They run training that teaches researchers how to assess and maximise their research impact (which in turn helps them win more funding). They have the info sleuth skills that every researcher needs and they support researchers by flexing these skills through training programs, publication planning consultations, and literature searching.

Research support is a dynamic and exciting space that is critically important in the current climate of declining funding, lower success rates, and very narrow, science-focused research priorities.

Things to read and watchlearning-materials-icon

Essential reading

These two articles provide an excellent overview of research support services in Australia. They are very useful in terms of understanding the types of services, products and programs that are offered in this space.

Richardson, J., Nolan-Brown, T., Loria, Pat, & Bradbury, S. J. (2012) Library research support in Queensland: a survey. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 43(4), pp. 258-277.

Keller, A. (2015). Research Support in Australian University Libraries: An Outsider View. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 1-13.

Extra reading

Research support should involve librarians partnering with researchers. The following article explores how these partnerships work:

Mamtora, J. (2013). Transforming library research services: towards a collaborative partnership. Library Management, 34(4/5), 352-371.

The following article is a great example of linking user needs and service design:

Brewerton, A. (2012). Re-skilling for research: investigating the needs of researchers and how library staff can best support them. New Review of Academic Librarianship, 18(1), 96-110.

Blog post: Critical reflection activity

assessment-iconWeekly learning activity

It’s time for another critical reflection blog post, this time on the topic of research support services.

Types of posts

You can write about whatever you want related to the topic of the week.


  • One of your activities must be a program review.
  • One of your activities must be a service review.

For your other posts, you can choose a type of activity from the list below, or you can write a critical reflection on a topic off your choosing:

  • argue a point
  • program review
  • service review
  • issues-based reflection
  • trends reflection.

For a description of the different types of posts you could write, check out the Assignment 1 page.

Argue a point of view

If you’re doing the ‘argue a point of view’ topic this week, here are some topics you might like to tackle (argue for or against the statement). It’s not a definitive list – you can choose your own topic. Please note I may not agree with all of these!

If you’re doing the ‘argue a point of view’ topic this week, you can choose from one of the following topics (argue for or against the statement). Please note I may not agree with all of these!

Alternatively, you can pick your own topic.

  • The focus on research support in academic libraries will compromise the support provided for teaching and learning.
  • Subject specialisation is unnecessary because librarians are not subject experts. Academics are. Librarians should provide support that isn’t subject specific.
  • In order to adequately support research, librarians should develop expertise in particular subject areas.
  • Librarians should proactively and practically provide support for grant application development, for example, by writing literature reviews for applications.
  • Create your own!


  • Imbi

    Hi Kate, just want to check that it’s okay for me to be a twitter chat champ this week? I changed it on the sign up page several weeks ago, from children and teens to research support, as I wanted to do my program review in the children and teens week.

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