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Framing and implementing researcher services at the University of Pennsylvania

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Version 2 2016-01-26, 10:58
Version 1 2015-08-18, 10:37
posted on 2016-01-26, 10:58 authored by Manuel de La Cruz Gutierrez, Sarah Wipperman
The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is building a comprehensive suite of researcher services. This poster will review the framework to be used and the implementation already under way. We will show how these services provide a synergy to be exploited for the benefit of the researchers and the university. At the same time, we argue this integration provides a more efficient way to deliver these specialized services in an institution like ours, and how the lessons learned could guide implementations at other institutions. 
Our framework for services entails three components: products, support, and benefits. Products are tools used in creating or managing research outputs and workflows throughout the research lifecycle. Examples of these include internally supported products, such as Symplectic Elements, VIVO, DMPTool, or BePress’ Digital Commons; and externally used products, such as ResearchGate,, or MyNCBI. Support is defined as librarian activities aiding researchers directly - with or without a mediating product. Examples of these are copyright guidance, data management advice, grant support (e.g. compliance), and the dissemination of scholarly materials. Benefits are the value these products and services bring to the whole university’s community and the individual researchers. For example, the university benefits from greater compliance by its researchers in terms of continuous funding. Finally, there are other clear benefits for both individual researchers and the university, such as the provision of metrics. These metrics provide a measure of the individual researcher’s impact and, in an aggregate form, give university’s administrators guidance for strategic initiatives. 
The Libraries’ work on researcher services has reached a critical point of convergence in the last few years. While several products and research support have both been offered for many years now, their delivery has been piecemeal. The integration of tools, the increase in complexity and multidisciplinarity of the research enterprise, and the movement of research creation and dissemination toward mainly digital environments, have made holistic support for researchers by the Libraries a necessity. We will review what the process has been to implement these services in several different avenues. For example, VIVO was implemented two years ago to satisfy a requirement of a CTSA award to our institution. This requirement of making available a profile system for the researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) established a strong relationship between a cross-functional library team and PSOM. The school already had a homegrown database of faculty profiles invisible to outsiders, but the VIVO platform made their research outputs and expertise public and easily discoverable. Now we are in the process of implementing Symplectic Elements as the new internal profile system for PSOM. Its rollout will bring several benefits hitherto unavailable: data quality assurance through the use of canonical sources, updated bibliometrics and altmetrics for scholarly outputs, simplified workflow for depositing materials into our institutional repository, and the generation of reports of great value for institutional research and for compliance of large grant awards, among others. 
We envision great opportunities and challenges ahead in implementing these services. We have identified the need for cross-functional teams to be reformed into a more cohesive and independent library unit with more focused efforts by its librarians. We have also developed onboarding processes for rolling out new internal products to different schools within our distributed institution. Our ultimate goal is to provide researchers with a “one-stop shop” for all of their needs throughout the research lifecycle.