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Exploring the need for a research data management librarian academy

Apr 24, 2018

RDM Training


Feedback from librarians from all over the globe is welcome! Share your personal experience by taking the RDM training survey.


Many librarians have become active participants in their institutions’ research lifecycles. Librarians have the expertise to capture scientific knowledge as it is being created so it is managed and recorded for later dissemination, but their skills with managing research data vary. For librarians to effectively lead the application of research data management (RDM) solutions at their institutions, they need training to support all levels of librarians.


Elsevier has a 16-year legacy of bringing librarians together under the Library Connect program to share best practices and insights into LIS trends and technology. Recently Elsevier’s librarian outreach team has started to further evolve this community-driven model from driving awareness and understanding of changes to building skills and competency for some of the newer librarian roles and responsibilities. These changes are needed to keep pace with the rapidly evolving scholarly ecosystem, including the research data life cycle.


Several university libraries recently partnered with Elsevier to study the need for a Research Data Management Librarian Academy that could provide online RDM training.  The team includes librarians from Harvard Medical School, Tufts Health Sciences, MCPHS University, Boston University School of Medicine and Simmons College. The project is co-led by Elaine Martin, MLS, DA, Director and Chief Administrative Officer, Countway Medical Library, Harvard Medical School; and Jean P. Shipman, MSLS, VP, Global Library Relations, Elsevier. 


“Embarking on this quest to learn what training needs exist and to identify possible gaps in what’s available to librarians with this excellent coalition of librarians from the Northeast is going to benefit many throughout the world,” said Shipman. “A resulting one-stop shop for identifying what training librarians have access to will expand not only their personal expertise, but highlight their relevance to local institutions’ research initiatives.”


The team will compile an inventory of existing courses for academic librarians as well as researchers and conduct a needs assessment through interviews, surveys and focus groups to identify gaps in current training offerings and to identify what librarians and researchers need to contribute to their success. Library school involvement is critical to the project, and the team will also interview library and online school educators as well.


The project partners consider the project essential to gain efficiencies, meet growing RDM needs and address the librarian skills gap:


“The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard Medical School is thrilled to be part of such a dynamic partnership with Elsevier and my health science librarian colleagues. Creating a more efficient way to foster the development of RDM is incredibly needed and far overdue,” said Martin. “We are embracing the benefits of cooperating with one another and looking forward to a tremendous outcome.”


“This is a growing need for our institution and we are thrilled to be partnering with our colleagues to be at the forefront of training the next generation of library professionals,” commented Eric Albright, Director of Library Administration, Hirsh Health Sciences Library, Tufts University. 


“Academic librarians have a long history of supporting the research process.  As research has become increasingly data-driven, we are seeing an unfortunate gap in competencies and skill sets needed to fully integrate librarians into data management and health care analytics. I am excited to be part of an initiative with Elsevier and other academic libraries to develop a program that will help to address the continuing education needs of our librarians so that we can better support these rapidly developing fields,” explained Richard Kaplan, Dean of Library and Learning Resources, MCPHS University.