ANALYSIS & OPINION

Finding the path from information to knowledge

Data and information are being created faster than ever, write Kent Anderson and Mitja-Alexander Linss

Data and information are being created faster than ever, leaving researchers, librarians, and users feeling overwhelmed. They’re all looking for new tools to help them get on top of the wave as they work to transform all this information into the knowledge their fields and constituents will rely on. These demands help shine a light on the common purpose all these superficially diverse groups share. New data management and analytics technologies can help publishers, librarians, and technologists extend and amplify their important roles, while giving researchers and practitioners more refined filters and better ways to manage their information sources.

The Literature lifecycle

Most R&D organisations can attribute much of their success to having control of the literature lifecycle. Gaining and maintaining control of this lifecycle can be a daunting process, as elements like discovery, access, re-use, review and the publication of information all need to be managed.

At any point in the literature lifecycle, it’s important to understand which resources are available. An ideal technology surfaces the right content at the right time, or at least makes discovery intuitive and closely ties discovery to rapid access. Knowledge workers – researchers and practitioners across multiple fields – want to complete their research tasks quickly and maintain continuity of thought.

Systems that are distracting, difficult to use, frustrating – or worse, systems that don’t find the right information at all – only set these employees and their organizations back.

Aligning and focusing activities 

Knowledge workers all benefit when their activities are aligned – librarians, publishers, executives, data scientists, and technology vendors should all be focused on improving discovery and the associated workflows.

Collaboration is vital to understanding and solving information access problems, as well as finding ways to help researchers transform information into new findings. Analytics and access can be a key way to focus efforts. For example, the collaboration between the analytics provider RedLink and on-demand research retrieval expert Reprints Desk shows how firms can aid discovery while providing librarians and executives with key insights about what is being used most intensively.

Together, these tools and others can surface relevant content more quickly and measure effectiveness more accurately.

Simplifying information access

On-demand content retrieval simplifies access, while analytics provide guidance on more efficient information source selection. In combination, the two simplify information access by ensuring the most relevant sources are always at hand. Whether library workflows are designed to deliver standalone literature access or complement subscriptions and interlibrary loan (ILL) as part of a hybrid solution, refining the information sources to help select the right ones is increasingly important.

With the vast amount of information available, the ability for these systems to scale is vital to their success. They have to be able to process large amounts of data seamlessly, and have interfaces that work for users – clear, concise, and uncluttered.

Measurement for management

Simplification is an arduous task, and measurement is a key aspect of smart simplification. Managing sources, outputs, and user experience means measuring productivity, resource use, and discovery effectiveness.

Measuring what is being used, what users want to use but can’t easily find, which sources are in high demand across an organisation, and options in the broader information environment are all part of making sure that management is purchasing and provisioning the right information for the organisation’s knowledge workers. Analytics about information use can guide purchasing decisions so that researchers always have access to what they need most when they need it.

The pace of information exchange is ever increasing. By combining analytics, seamless document discovery, and on-demand content access, and by aligning efforts to ensure the proper resources are available when needed, executives, publishers, librarians, and technologists can serve researchers even more effectively. New tools can help turn information into the knowledge people in various fields will rely on. New data management and analytics approaches can help researchers be more productive and focused than ever.

Kent Anderson is CEO of RedLink; Mitja-Alexander Linss is director of marketing at Reprints Desk

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