Thing 23: The Library as a research tool & final thoughts

"Last Post" by User:EnEdC - (with LilyPond source). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -
“Last Post” by User:EnEdC – (with LilyPond source).
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Well, after twenty-three weeks we’re finally at the end of 23 Research Things. For our final post we thought we’d take a look at the University Library itself and the services it provides for researchers. Over the past few months we’ve presented a range of digital tools and, of course, different people will find some tools to be of greater importance to their research than others. The Library, on the other hand, is pretty central to academic research: yes, as library professionals we might be a tad biased in that assessment but almost all researchers will at some point make use of the Library’s services and tools. Whether you’re a first-year PhD student or a seasoned research specialist, the Library has a lot to offer. Thing 23 was written by Mark Shepheard (Library Research Support Officer, Graduate Research) in collaboration with Hero McDonald (Arts Librarian) and Andrea Hurt (Client Services & Liaison Librarian, Arts).


Getting started: Research guides

The Researcher@Library suite of webpages provides ideas, guidelines and useful links for the entire research life-cycle: from starting a project, to obtaining funding, publishing and preserving data.

The Library Subject Research Guides also include a series of guides designed specifically for researchers. The entire set can be found here but particularly useful are the guides on literature reviews, staying current, getting published, managing references, and measuring research impact.

These are all designed with University of Melbourne researchers in mind and, where relevant, link to databases and services to which the University Library provides direct access. They’re well worth bookmarking so you can return to them easily.


RILAS: Measuring your research impact.

Do you know: How often you are cited? Where you are cited? How to measure the impact of your creative output? How to determine impact measures for key journals? The Library’s Research Impact Library Advisory Service (RILAS) can help. It provides various research evaluation measures, including metrics, to University of Melbourne staff and researchers to support their research grant and academic promotion applications.

 Publication analysis

  • RILAS can assist with grant applications and applications for academic promotion: submit your ‘top ten’ publications to RILAS to receive a written Research Citation and Impact Report which includes citation counts and journal impact metrics from Thomson ‘s Web of Science and Scopus SciMago Journal Reports (SJR).
  • We will make every effort to meet demand for this service during busy periods. The service requires a minimum of 2 weeks delivery time.
  • Contact for assistance.

 Some useful guides if you choose to do your own analysis

  • Research Impact: tools for measuring and monitoring the impact of research. Information on calculating citation, journal, book and researcher impact, h-indexes.
  • Tracking citations: citation analysis and alerting tools: Web of Science (ISI) , Scopus (Elsevier), Google Scholar (using Publish or Perish).


Research Consultations

Academic staff and graduate students are welcome to book a research consultation with a subject-specialist librarian. Consultations are tailored to your needs and skills and give you the opportunity to discuss your research-specific information needs with a professional librarian.

Research Consultations can assist you with:

  • effective literature searching on your research topic to maximise the quality and appropriateness of results.
  • advanced and efficient use of specialist databases.
  • keeping up-to-date with the literature in your field (e.g. setting search, table of contents and citation alerts).
  • strategic publishing and maximising your research impact.
  • building your publishing ‘track record’.
  • tracking citations to see ‘who is citing whom?’
  • structuring systematic reviews.
  • efficient information management.

To book a research consultation, complete the form on this webpage.

Getting hold of that book

Despite the increasing availability of research publications in digital formats, a lot of important work is still published only in hard-copy. The University Library has an enormous collection of books and hard-copy journals and it’s always growing: roughly 40-45,000 items per year. If the Library doesn’t have a book that you need, there are a number of ways that you can get hold of it.

Firstly, Bonus+ is a shared catalogue of 14 Australian and New Zealand academic libraries. You can search the Bonus+ catalogue directly or you can access it from the University of Melbourne Library catalogue via the ‘Try BONUS+’ link that appears when an item isn’t in our collection. For more information on Bonus+, have a look at their FAQs.

Bonus+ link from within the Library catalogue

Secondly, Inter-library Loans is a service for staff, graduate and Honours students to access books, journal articles, and other resources not available in our libraries. The service is free and can be used to source material unavailable through either the Library’s physical and digital collections or through Bonus+. Inter-library Loans uses an interface called Relais; for more information on using this service, see this guide.

Finally, you can always ask the Library to purchase an item that you think would be useful for your research: just email with the details. You can also keep an eye on recent purchases via the catalogue’s list of new items and via the E-Resources blog’s page on new databases and on new e-books and e-journals. You’ll also find regular posts on current database trials; don’t forget to leave a comment if you find a useful database that you think the Library should purchase.


Software, computers and study space

The Library has scores of computers that you can book if you want to work in one our many library spaces. Student IT has produced this great list of the full range of software on standard Library computers. Scroll down to find a list of additional applications in selected locations: e.g., Nvivo (ERC eLearning Studio); AutoCAD (Architecture Library); Stata (Brownless Biomed, Computers Nos. 3-15).

There is also a range of statistical and mathematical software available on campus. This guide provides information on where to access software, purchasing licensed copies, training opportunities, and links to support materials and further reading.

There is now a dedicated graduate study space on the first floor of the Baillieu Library. It has swipe-card access and power-enabled desks with seats for 24 students. It’s designed as a quiet study space and is organised on a first-come-first-served basis. You can book group study spaces and computers in the Library online through the BookIT service.


Keep in touch

Drop in to one of our libraries during opening hours to talk to our staff if you have any research queries. We can also be contacted via ask.unmelb and on 13 MELB (13 6352), or via the chat box on the Library homepage. Keep in touch via our Twitter and Facebook accounts as well.


Final reflections

It’s been a busy twenty-three weeks, with quite a range of tools and services that might be useful in your role as researchers. We hope you’ve found them useful; the site will remain active, so if you suddenly find yourself in the market for mapping software or surveying tools, you know exactly where to come for some quick tips! To wrap-up 23 Research Things, we’d like you to reflect on the programme in general: What did you enjoy? What do you think you will use in future? What would you like to explore further?

23 Research Things was produced by the University Library and the project team included Jennifer Warburton (Program Leader: Research Impact and Training, University Library), Mark Shepheard (Library Research Support Officer (Graduate Research), University Library), Anna Shadbolt (Manager: Digital Scholarship Research, University Library), Andrea Hurt (Client Services & Liaison Librarian, Arts, University Library), and Andy Tseng (Data Infrastructure Architect, Research Services, Information Technology Services). Our thanks to all the many contributors from across the University Library and Information Technology Services; 23 Research Things was only possible thanks to your enthusiasm and expertise. Thanks also to all our readers: good luck with the research!

Mark Shepheard. 

2 Responses to “Thing 23: The Library as a research tool & final thoughts”

  1. Angeline Ferdinand says:

    Many thanks to the University Library team and contributors that put together this fantastic initiative. It’s been great to follow along week-to-week and I’ve learned a lot along the way. I’m very happy that the site will remain live, as I’m sure I’ll come back to it and I’m keen to review the weeks that I missed the first time around.

    1. Mark says:

      Thanks, Angeline. Good to know that you found it useful!

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