Information-handling training for researchers - towards a more cohesive environment

Added by Stephane Goldstein on 21 December 2009

Information is the lifeblood of academic research. The sheer volume of scholarly material, the ceaseless growth in its quantity, the enormously diverse and often complex forms that it takes: these factors create huge challenges for academic researchers faced with the discovering, accessing, reading, reviewing, manipulating, mining, managing and creating of information (which is also taken to include data) in all its guises.

Given these challenges, the ability of researchers to handle information is of vital importance. Many individuals have become adept at developing approaches and using innovative technologies to make the most of the information environment, but others rather less so. Questions about how researchers develop appropriate skills and understanding, the support they receive, the training opportunities provided for them, and the take-up of such opportunities are thus highly pertinent.

This was the rationale for the RIN’s 2008 report, Mind the Skills Gap, which examined how training for researchers in information-handling management is addressed in the setting of UK higher education. The report underlined that relevant training provision remains largely dependent on the initiative and efforts of individual academic libraries. However, it concluded that such training is uncoordinated and generally not based on any systematic assessment of needs. The report called for better coordination between relevant organisations and interest groups to ensure that training and professional development programmes are provided for researchers. These issues were emphasised at a workshop, in July 2009, which considered a range of practical ways of developing the agenda in this area.

On that basis, the RIN is enabling the development of a coalition of partners working together to promote a more cohesive environment for information handling training and the improvement of information literacy in higher education research. This partnership approach is important: the different bodies that are involved - library representative bodies, along with organisations such as Vitae, JISC, the Digital Curation Centre and the UK Council for Graduate Education among others - all have their own take on information literacy, and the combination of their interests lends additional credibility to the avenues that are being explored. The pages in this section of the RIN website set out a definition of information literacy and describe how RIN and its partners are taking things forward:

We will post more information about information-handling training as the group’s agenda progresses during 2010 and 2011 - keep your eyes on this page. In the meantime, if you would like further information please contact or .

Finally, we have two documents, both attached below, which provide a useful overview of our activities in this area:

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