18 June 2014

The development of eResearch@Flinders: Amanda Nixon at VALA 2014

I wanted to use this post to highlight an excellent presentation given by Amanda Nixon (@MLNxn) at this year's VALA conference in which she discussed the development of eResearch@Flinders.

The way that Flinders have built their eResearch team is quite unusual; the unit is located in the Library and is staffed by several librarians who have been funded in continuing roles, along with a statistical consultant. Amanda has a dual reporting line to both the University Librarian and the Executive Director, ICT Strategy and Integration. This is quite different from my experiences working in or alongside eResearch services at three other organisations, where the majority of the staff have been IT-oriented and where short-term contract work is the norm.

A video of Amanda's full presentation is available via the VALA website and you can also read the paper that she has written with her other colleagues, We built it and they are coming: the development of eResearch@Flinders.

eResearch@Flinders began in 2012 as a result of a project funded by the Australian National Data Service. Amanda identified in her presentation the strong service ethic that underpins their work and the core library skills that the team applies, including liaising with both researchers and service providers, creating metadata and managing digital resources and repositories. She provided a skills mapping from traditional library functions to eResearch functions, and talked about other useful skills she has picked up on the way, such as business analysis, event management, social media, software development project management, and environmental scanning. 

Amanda's session concluded with a Q&A, and she was asked about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and evaluation. She noted the need for her service to have usage statistics to demonstrate return on investment (ROI) as well qualitative evidence that that the services are being used by researchers from a range of disciplines. Further measures about research collaborations and grant success are also things that eResearch@Flinders would like to gather in future as their service matures.