A good way of keeping up to date professionally is by visiting other institutions. Ever in search of amazing researcher support, I intrepidly headed south to the University of Sussex Library. Sussex Uni is in Falmer which is near Brighton. The Research Support section in the Library Academic Services provides dedicated support to research faculty and research students in the University. The team works in close collaboration with the Learning and Teaching Support team and the Doctoral School.
A buzzing area (sorry!) is the Sussex Research Hive which is the Library’s designated area for researchers, open to all doctoral researchers and research staff. It provides private study areas, bookable meeting rooms and space for discussion and collaborative work. Three Research Hive Scholars support the area and engage with the research community at Sussex. The scholars arrange events according to their interests eg. researcher well being, surviving your viva, social events to create a community. They receive a scholarship to work 6 hours per week.
Lunchtime seminars are held with some external speakers, academics, researchers. Approx 40 people attend. They last from 12-2pm, sandwich lunch provided (I wonder if they supply as much cheese as at City Uni meetings?) Events are free and open to everyone involved in the research process at Sussex. Examples: The future of the book in the digital age, What next for open access? Peer review, Presenting at conferences.
The Researcher Development Programme
Tthe Library run some of the courses on this programme eg literature reviews. Bookings are taken centrally and this works better than trying to manage them individually. The Researcher Development Programme provides free dedicated workshops which cater for all levels of skill – for those new to doctoral research, to those with more research experience. The programme consists of a range of options, and you choose the activities that are right at each stage of your research journey. Doing a PhD is very much like Frodo’s journey to Mordor and finishing the thesis is the academic equivalent of throwing the ring in the fire.
The Doctoral School is a new and distinctive development at Sussex and is alongside the Academic Schools. The Doctoral School blog is at: http://doctoralschool.wordpress.com/ I must admit I like blogs www.citylibresearchers.wordpress.com and also have a penchant for writing posts for Developing @ City and indeed for Amazon vouchers.
One to one support
This has been one of the most successful initiatives offered by the Library. The researchers register on the website and fill out details of their research and what they wish to learn and what they have tried already and which databases they have used. An appointment of up to an hour is then arranged eg. on literature reviews, resources, open access, the dark art of bibliometrics, Web of Knowledge, Scopus etc . http://www.sussex.ac.uk/library/research/support
These are held on how the Library and research community can help researchers and what services and facilities and training could be offered. They are not that well attended, sometimes an Amazon voucher is given as an incentive (I’m liking Amazon vouchers).
Library café – Shut up and write event
The first Research Hive Shut up and Write event was held in the Library Café on Tuesday 13 November 2012. It was a great way to meet new people as well at the same time as being productive, and participants really enjoyed how it made writing into more of a social activity. Free tea and coffee was provided and researchers brought laptops to type up their research ( I don’t think brie and camembert were provided but I heard one researcher wrote 17 pages).
The staff were friendly and made me feel really welcome and it is great to see what others are doing and look at their physical and online spaces and initiatives. I’m told one of the hazards of the campus is that seagulls sometimes come and steal your lunch. I also had a few minutes to spare before my pre-booked train so had a quick peer (or should that be pier?) at Brighton beach.
With thanks to JRR Tolkien, Wikipedia, myself (for my own photographs) and Uni of Sussex Research Support Services team.