A strategic focus of the Academic Information Service, University of Pretoria (AIS), is to develop and implement an effective Information Service for research. The university’s mission statement states that it strives to be the leading research university in South Africa and the AIS would, therefore, play an important part in helping it to achieve this aim. The need to increase research output as well as obtaining an optimum postgraduate through-put rate is the foundation of this Research Strategy.
A focus group was formed in 2004 to investigate all facets of such an information service for research, consisting of the leaders of 3 service units of the AIS, covering the Humanities, Natural Sciences/Agriculture and Engineering and the Built Environment, and Veterinary Science.
Leading research universities were identified after consultation with other AIS leaders and considering information from the institutions’ web pages. Their library directors were contacted for their inputs. These included the University of Alberta and University of Calgary in Canada, and Sheffield University in the UK.
Group discussions were held with Information Specialists and with a group of top researchers at the University of Pretoria to gain further insights.
It became clear that the role of the Information Specialist and the competencies needed in the Information Service for Research focus would be a central feature of this project.
Facets that were identified as being essential role players were:
- E-information developments, including building e-resource collections and the use of metadata for
- Scholarly communication and e-research support
- IT support and skills
- Relationships, networking, communication and facilitation of knowledge networks (COPs/
Communities of Practice)
- Flexibility in an ever-changing information and research environment
- Training skills (both giving training and receiving training), not only in database searching but also in e-publishing and managing their own reference databases
The findings of this focus group and developments based on these findings will be discussed, the implementation actions described and future plans mentioned.