Making the link : the library’s role in facilitating research collaboration
Schoombee, Lucia C. and Du Plessis, Pieter G.
Date Issued: 2013-04
Conference paper presented at the 34th Annual IATUL conference at Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa, 14-18 April. The theme of the conference was Doing it together: effective collaboration, so there may be other papers from the conference that are relevant.
Collaboration is emerging as an important factor in the advancement of science and scientific output. Paying heed to this development, libraries face the challenge of providing services to facilitate collaboration amongst researchers which will ultimately result in increased research output. The purpose of this paper is to describe the opportunity for, and realisation of, library services which facilitate research collaboration as a means of addressing institutional goals to increase research output at Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service (SULIS). Design/methodology/approach—The paper describes services and solutions explored by SULIS to support the growing trend of research collaboration. The paper looks at the three service paradigms (1) spaces and facilities conducive to collaboration (2) creating awareness of collaboration opportunities and (3) bibliometrics, as examples of services which encourage and facilitate research collaboration and networking. Findings—The paper affirms the correlation between research collaboration and research output and shows that opportunities exist for libraries to assist researchers in finding suitable collaborators and for making facilities available for researchers to network, engage and work together. Originality/value—Using concrete examples, this paper demonstrates how libraries are able to respond to new trends in science, address institutional goals and establish a new role for librarians. “Making the link” suggests more than connecting researchers. It also suggests recognising paradigm shifts, embracing the dynamic academic environment, aligning actions with institutional goals and creating services that blend them together.