Support Research Groups


How can the Library form cross-functional teams of experts to support and partner with individual researchers and research groups?



Organizational structure/culture:

  • Teams can be informal (short-lived, focused on specific problem), or formal (membership appointed & specific responsibilities assigned, long-lived existence).
  • The Library should develop guidelines for how teams are formed and who decides on what the team does, and the duration of the work, and how it accounts for its activity, and how/who assesses the productivity and products of the team.  Need to incorporate scholar feedback into assessment of team.
  • It’s important for staff/faculty to have the opportunity to discover/express interest in working as part of a team. Identify experts as well as those who have an interest in building their skill and are willing to invest the time in learning.
  • Tradeoffs:  benefit of the new work to the researcher or group vs. lost opportunities to accomplish unit work that the staff member(s) would be doing if they weren’t part of the team.  If staffing in a team member’s home unit is low, which work takes priority?
  • In a follow-on conversation to the retreat, it was suggested that the needs for formal team would arise as research support moves from the primarily solo liaison interaction with a researcher to the need to put together a group of Library experts to support a request.  If this is more than a one-time in-depth consultation, and it needs to recur, then some guidelines would help to scope the nature of the work, the reason why a Library team is supporting, and the level of support/time that the individuals in a team are devoting to the work, and the duration of the team assignment.   (Incorporate Heidi Imker’s graphic 3-dimensional shows degree of time/complexity/number of experts needed on a continuum.)
  • A tiered services framework with defined levels of service might serve as a good example for units that need to identify teams to support researchers on campus.
  • Broaden the effort to revise the Library’s referral database to include both subject and functional expertise.
  • The IRC database, as well as the experts referral database will play substantial roles in helping to identify experts in the Library who can assist in problem-solving.
  • Follow-on suggestion:  Areas of the Library that need to put together teams now include RDS, Scholarly Commons, SC&P, but this need to form teams of Library experts to support scholars’ research will become more pervasive in other areas of the Library with time.
  • Follow-on suggestion: AUL for Research appoint a task force to scope the need, develop a set of guidelines for creating inter-unit Library teams, identify the situations where teams are appropriate, and the process for creating/monitoring the work of teams.


  • Project management training; PM software and IT support needed
  • Training in other related skills may be needed: data analysis methods, etc.


Stakeholders (Groups):

Office of Research, Office of User Services, Office of Collections & Technical Services, Staff training and development, IT


Hiring Plan Impact:

Immediate (0-1 yrs.): none


Adjacencies with other Topical Areas:

Experts, organizational culture, education & training, tools for scholarship, research data service, scholarly communications lifecycle