Research Support Requirements: Discussions with Health Science Researchers

Posted on February 07, 2024

The Department of Library Services (DLS) held discussions concerning the research support that it offers to Health Sciences researchers. The sessions were held between October and November 2023, to gather user feedback to enhance the research support specific to Health Science. The primary goal was to gather insights into researchers' experiences and challenges, and craft recommendations related to research support from the DLS. This initiative builds upon a series of focus groups initiated in 2022 following the Library Life Pulse survey, as suggested by a researcher who felt that the survey did not adequately address researchers' needs. In 2022, the DLS had conversations with some researchers from the NAS, EBIT, and Humanities faculties, and this effort has now expanded to include the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The conversation commenced with the DLS providing the background and purpose of the discussions. Following that, the researchers gave context on their hectic schedules and limited time to focus on their research, highlighting the critical role of the support needed from the DLS. There was agreement that the DLS has the potential to save researchers time by offering real-time personalised services and support. Among other services researchers requested was the support to update and streamline researcher profiles and training for linking their publications to SDGs. The showcasing of the achievements of the researchers was seen as having the potential to attract postgraduate students and collaborators.

Moreover, researchers requested the DLS to offer postgraduate workshops tailored to specific faculties and for the institution to explore the possibility of writing retreats where researchers can concentrate on their writing without distractions. Their concerns also centre around the DHET research funds distribution between the university and faculty. Researchers would also appreciate the DLS exploring alternative methods for payment of publication fees without the upfront cost and reimbursement process. And the development of tools to help researchers find relevant journals, rank them by impact, and filter them according to their specific needs.

Researchers also expressed dissatisfaction with the current format of the UP CV and would like the institution to streamline CV sections to make them relevant to individual researchers, eliminating non-applicable sections. And further develop a cloud-based system for storing and accessing UP CVs, ensuring easy retrieval and real-time updates for promotion reviews. Moreover, enforcing the mandatory use of ORCiD emphasises its importance for funding, CVs, and other academic activities. Researchers would also appreciate artificial intelligence tools for research support, enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

The researchers expressed appreciation for the support the DLS offers and requested a closer collaboration. This summary is only the highlights from the discussions. All feedback gathered is receiving attention and consideration. The DLS expresses gratitude to the researchers for taking time from their busy schedules to engage in this crucial conversation aimed at shaping the future of DLS research support and improving user experience.

- Author Zenzile Ntshabele

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