Connecting Researchers to Digital Collections

Having recently issued our Funding Call on impact & embedding of digitised resources now seems an appropriate point at which to reflect on some of the work JISC has done to investigate and facilitate the impact and usage of digital resources.

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) recently submitted their Final Report on a workshop they undertook entitled: Digital History Workshop: Connecting Researchers to Digital Collections .

The workshop addressed some of the issues and outcomes from the OII’s JISC funded study: The Usage and Impact of Phase I Digitisation projects and Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (TIDSR).

These issues can be broadly defined as:

  • The difficulty in connecting with potential users (researchers, teachers, students and the public);
  • In some disciplines (i.e. History), habits dictate that researchers and students are not enthusiastic about the use of online resources for their studies.

The workshops, undertaken over two days, attempted to focus on scholars and researchers who had an interest in learning how digital resources could enhance and potentially transform their research and work.

Focussing on early stage researchers in the second event, the workshop attempted to establish, and challenge attitudes to digital resources early on in the researchers career.

The workshops attempted to confront some of the barriers that are often noted in the uptake and continued use of these resources:

“Of key importance to these workshops, but in particular to the first workshop, was the combination of information sessions with reflective papers from key scholars working in various research areas, and the opportunity to ask questions both of custodians/creators of digital resources and of those already using these tools for academic research and teaching.”

Conclusions

By having prominant scholars demonstrating their use and research activities in connection with online scholarly resources, these workshops highlighted that:  “Researchers are attracted to new methods and approaches most readily when presented with tangible and substantive examples from their peers and mentors“.

Furthermore, the TIDSR study and workshops highlight the importance of having multiple methods for seeking out information about users.  This user research can help deepen our understanding of how these resources are used and embedded in the practices of teachers, students and researchers.

Final Thoughts

“We found during the TIDSR project that funding for monitoring usage and impact beyond the launch of digital resources is often limited, and it is therefore vital that such funds are put to the best use.”

Hopefully the funding for the 7/10 grant call: Impact and Embedding, can help address this recommendation/concern from the workshops and wider impact study.

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