Libraries Week 2019: Celebrating Research Support

Libraries Week takes place between 7th – 12th October 2019. This year’s campaign is focused on celebrating the role of libraries in the digital world. Over the course of the week we’ll be introducing you to different teams within the Library and explore how they use technology to support our community.


Today’s post features a contribution from our Research Support Team and will be highlighting:

  • How the Library supports our researchers with making their publications and data findable and accessible online so it can be used by others
  • How we work to preserve these important digital research assets for the future.

So how does research take place?

This diagram gives a birds-eye view of what researchers are doing at various stages of their work – how ideas are tested, what is recorded, and how results are written up and shared.

Once shared, the research can be used by others – for example, other researchers, policy makers and health professionals – to further medical knowledge and clinical practice.

How is the Library involved in the research process?

The Library is involved in supporting SGUL researchers throughout their research process, from the early stages when they apply to medical and other funders to make a case for grant funding for their research projects, right through to the long-term availability and preservation of the research that they produce.

Meet the Research Support team

Michelle Harricharan, our Research Data Support Manager, works with our research teams to help them to create, manage, share and preserve high quality digital data that is findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) – and in line with funder and publisher data policies.        

Jennifer Smith Research, Research Publications Librarian and Jenni Hughes, Research Publications Assistant, help researchers understand how they can make their research papers freely available online via our publications repository, SORA, and advise researchers on the fast moving world of open access publishing.

We all are available for face to face meetings with researchers, we provide guidance on our webpages and blogposts, and can be contacted by phone or email (see below).

The Library also procures and manages a range of software systems to help provide our services to researchers.

How do we use technology to support our users?

Making research papers freely available

The government allocates funding to universities based on the impact and reach of their research out in the wider world. As part of the next assessment by the government, known as REF, any research papers SGUL wishes to use as evidence of our research impact will need to be freely available online.

Our researchers can track and record their publications in our Current Research Information System (CRIS), which uses Symplectic Elements software. The CRIS captures and records detailed information about the research publications, such as how often their research is picked up and referred to by other researchers, and allows researchers to upload their publications to be made open access in our repository. Publications information from the CRIS is also transferred into researchers’ public profiles on the SGUL website.

The CRIS links to our institutional database for publications, St George’s Online Research Archive (SORA) which is hosted and supported by Cosector. This repository uses open source software, and information about the papers in SORA is picked up by indexing services such as Google Scholar, CORE, and Unpaywall,  and many of our researchers’ papers are also freely available in the big medical databases PubMedCentral and Europe PubMed Central.

Both systems show Altmetric scores, which visualise how many times the research has been referred to in traditionally non-scholarly places such as news media, social media, public policies and so on.  

Having the research findable and accessible in so many places helps ensure there are as few barriers to reading and re-use as possible. To date we have over 3,700 papers freely available online via SORA – with downloads currently averaging 3,600 per month from all parts of the world.

Research Data Infrastructure

In 2016 the university partnered with Jisc on the Research Data Shared Service project. This allowed us to establish the foundations for a state of the art digital data infrastructure at our Library.

In mid-2017 we launched our figshare-based research data repository which is a digital archive for discovering, storing and sharing research data (and wider research outputs) produced at St George’s. Since its launch we have shared some 45 outputs from a range of SGUL research and collected hundreds more that are publicly available via PLOS. To date, our 45 public items have been viewed more than 20,000 times and downloaded almost 4,000 times, a testament to the contribution open research can make to enabling public access to high value digital research.

Together with Records Management and Archives, we are also in the process of implementing a digital preservation system, Preservica, to ensure continued access to our valuable research data assets (as well as our unique institutional records). Digital content are fragile; they can quickly become inaccessible as the hardware and software to open them become obsolete. By continually migrating digital files to their latest formats, Preservica will ensure that our digital content remains accessible and usable for the long term.

Get connected, get creative and learn new skills

The following websites are a useful starting point if you would like to know more:

Understanding Health Research
If you are trying to make sense of health research, this website was funded by the MRC to guide you through some steps to help you read scientific papers and think about the value of the evidence or conclusions made.

Open Access Publishing
A course for those who wish to understand more about how to publish open access – some of the terminology that is often used and funder expectations are explained.

Jisc Research Data Management Toolkit
A curated portal with up-to-date resources on research data management, data sharing and preservation.

If you have any questions about open research, get in contact with the team using the information below:

CRIS & Deposit on acceptance: sora@sgul.ac.uk
Open Access Publications: openaccess@sgul.ac.uk
Research Data Management: researchdata@sgul.ac.uk

We look forward to hearing from you.

Michelle Harricharan, Research Data Support Manager
Jenni Hughes, Research Publications Assistant
Jennifer Smith, Research Publications Librarian


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