Last week we attended the Association of Research Managers and Administrators‘ (ARMA) annual conference in Brighton. We were presenting on our Research Data Repository which was launched at the end of April.
Although our session part of the last panel of the conference it was still well attended with representatives from both universities and funders. As part of our talk we had decided to hold c30-45 minute breakout/discussion sessions. Not only were these sessions an opportunity for attendees to ask us additional questions about our repository but it was also an opportunity for us to discover the lay of the land at other institutions.
As someone with a research background but who has worked in libraries for the past 10 years it was interesting to hear some of the comments from the research managers and administrators. It is a view I have heard before but until the growth of open access and research data management at universities many research office staff were not aware that the ‘Library did research’.
One of the many advantages of the current “open landscape” at universities is that many departments that previously had limited or even no contact with each other (or contact only in very specific areas) e.g. Research Office, IT, Library, now have regular and meaningful contact across a number of areas. (For example, within a week of starting at Loughborough I had met colleagues from IT and the Research Office as part of my induction and work with them on a weekly (if not daily) basis.) Not only does this regular contact help to reduce any duplication of effort but it also means that staff working in those departments now have the opportunity to have a more holistic view of how research is conducted and supported at their organisation. As such, they are able to do their jobs with an understanding of how their decisions and work may affect others at the institution. Most importantly, it means that we are better placed to provide the support that researchers and academics may require.
This holistic view is particularly important at the moment when one considers the demands on academic staff in both research and teaching.