ANALYSIS & OPINION

Publishers and libraries can work together to support research discovery

Dynamic documents, semantic technologies and better signposting in scholarly resources are some of the ways libraries and publishers can help researchers, according to a study by Lettie Conrad and Mary Somerville

A study presented at this year’s annual meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries provides insights into how researchers navigate the web and gives recommendations of how publishers and libraries can adapt their products and services to support this process.

Blazing New Paths: Charting Advanced Researcher Patterns”, carried out by Lettie Conrad, manager, online product management at SAGE, and Mary Somerville, university librarian and library director at University of Colorado, Denver, aims to represent graphically the typical research workflows of advanced students in the social sciences during their literature review.

The goal is to use the research findings to generate actionable recommendations for collaborative cross-sector initiatives that serve to enhance discoverability and academic progress.

The first recommendation is to ensure that article and chapter PDF documents are as dynamic as possible. This could be with web-based tools integrated for version control (such as CrossMark) and reference hyper linking, including aggregator and publisher content.

The study also recommends that information providers and others further drive semantic technologies for more refined recommendation features within all points along the research pathway.

In addition, it advises refining cooperative enhancements to authentication and login routines.

The fourth recommendation is to explore, with researchers, citation and document management systems for personal digital libraries. The aim would be to evolve available products, further workflow integration, and advance researcher adoption.

In addition, ‘sign posts’ should be added in all scholarly resources. These would construct pointers to additional or related content that would further resource discovery. The study notes that this approach is better than, for example, assuming that publisher and aggregator content are destination sites.

The final recommendation is to conduct additional studies that include 'talking out loud' protocols and in-person observations of research sessions, to gain greater insight into the thoughts / judgments during charted pathway sessions.

This study represents the advanced researcher workflow through a visualised “user pathway” diagram. By turning the focus to a fuller picture of the researcher experience and process, this work should contribute to a broad conversation about enabling discovery beyond the walls of any one organisation.

This investigation into user behaviours – and, more specifically, the consideration of how better to support advanced researchers’ present and evolving navigational pathways – recognises the importance of increased collaboration among libraries and their vendors, and publishers and their vendors, toward our common goal of enhancing discovery, access, and usage of the scholarly corpus.

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