Fourth week

Couch potato

I love to watch TV here. Every weekday the program timetable is the same.

Our selection of TV series:

So, there is lots of TV for me (~2hours). It’s dark outside after 17 and shops close at the same time. So, I enjoy BBC’s great TV series. So, here I’m a real couch potato. Luckily, I can follow my running school, I found in the net couple years back. It’s available only Finnish and it’s called Running school for Couch potatoes. I fit in better than ever.


Picture 1: a Coach potato type animal we saw last weekend.

“You are so busy to row that you forget to start the engine”

This is maybe not a very good translation of the phrase my colleague uses sometimes. Anyway, there is a great wisdom in that phrase. During this very busy week, I have been thinking what is “the engine”, when providing research services. Library resources are always limited, we need to find engines to survive. When we find engines powerful enough, we get time for tailored services as well. One example of these engines is a well maintained FAQ (of any subject). Someone may even find the FAQ in web pages and anyway it’s better to use ready written answers than type same answers over and over again. However FAQs can be hard to maintain, if there is no easy-to-use tool for that. The best FAQs are the ones others are maintaining and you can use excellent results.

What do you think are good engines for a hospital library?

Tomorrow we’ll go to the Zoo of Melbourne. I hope it’ll be a nice adventure.

Best regards,

Third week

The Weather

It has been cold and rainy week. In the news, we saw that inland they got snow. For many Australians, it’s exotic. For us, it’s more exotic to have winter this warm. When it’s raining, it is nice to be in house and drink tea. This weekend the weather has been nice so we had a nice small trip to the Great Ocean Road. We can’t drive much because for us the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road. Driving takes much more energy than usually. So, we can make only short trips. We saw kangaroos and koalas during our trip this Saturday. So we’re very pleased of this small adventure we had.

This Sunday we visited Joy’s house and met her partner and their lovely cats! We’d a nice lunch at the local cafeteria and a nice tour to seeing a couple of impressive ocean scenes. When I asked my boys what was the best thing they remembered from this day, they said: “The cats!” They are both true cat lovers.

The Mentoring session

This Wednesday I arranged a “Reading contest” of the Barwon Health’s research articles for Joy and me. We had five articles/person, which we read through in 15 minutes (3 minutes/article). I did take time, so we’re quick. Afterwards we explained each other what we had found. Findings like, how data was collected and analyzed, how they reported results and other information about important research data management points like the ethical approval, who was responsible for the data, is data available in a data archive or elsewhere, etc.

I learned a lot from this task. The best of these articles where very transparent, they explained very clearly how the data collection and analysis was done, where are the week and strong points of the research and how reliable are the results. All articles were not as excellent. Sometimes I had a feeling that researchers need to hide something. Like articles where they wrote about data collection and analysis, but included no tables or diagrams, only text. It would be interesting to see their data.

By to way, those poor articles were not published in highly valuated journals. I’m not a big fan of the impact factors, but it is the fact that some journals are better than others journals, of course. Maybe those better ones get better editors and pear reviewers to urge researchers to write better publications?

Data have to be clear and well documented, if you want to publish in good journals. Maybe libraries can help researchers to get articles to better publications by helping them with research data management? This is maybe true especially in the clinical field, because physicians have so much else in their minds, they have patients to take care of and everything. I want to stress that there is nothing wrong in Barwon health’s research. They do an excellent job here. Only, it’s the same situation everywhere with research data management. There is much to work to do.

After our reading contest + findings, I asked Joy to write/draw a research data management life cycle of clinical research. Then we included related library services. We had a very nice discussion while drawing that. In picture 1, you can see our drawing. (If you find spelling mistakes, I wrote those words.)

Research data life cycle

Picture 1: The research data life cycle and library services.

We started interviews

On Thursday, we started our interview tour in hospital. Our first target person was a biostatistician, who has a nice grandstand view to the research data of the hospital. He helps the clinical researchers with their data, so much he can. He recommends them to use the Red Cap software ( It easy to use software to the end users. You can maintain a SQL database and document your data nicely with this tool. This biostatistician maintains the software in the hospital server. It’s protected well, so it’s suitable for highly sensitive data they often have in clinical research.

I much say that the interview gave me much to think about. I’m glad they have this Red Cap tool. I learned how to use the tool (only basics) on the MOOC I participated in a couple of years back. MOOC’s name is: Data Management for Clinical Research ( I hope we find a nice biostatistician or social scientist (this is useful to them as well) to build up this service also in the University of Helsinki. I have dreamed of that too long. (Yes, I have very odd dreams!)

The ANDS seminar

This Thursday was a very busy day. In the afternoon, we travelled by a local train to Melbourne to the ANDS seminar (the Australian National Data service) name “Hot Topics – What’s trending in RDM in VIC/TAS?”
(All the presentation will be published here:
RDM = Research data management

When people asked me, why they wanted me to help with RDM in Australia, I sometimes said: “Well, they are ahead of us in the RDM in Australia, you know (everybody knows that of course). They asked me, because all other Australian organizations have nice services already, so they need me to be as far it’s possible, so they’ll not get caught they needed help.” This answer was a joke, of course.

After the ANDS seminar, I know that there are many libraries in Australia still thinking what kind of role (if any) the library should take in RDM services. So, they are not very ahead of our European libraries after all..

The ANDS has done very nice work here for many year now. Here are many libraries which have had the RDM services long time now. They have collected a very nice table of these organizations and their toolkits on ANDS:

In the seminar, we’re thinking about skills you need if you work RDM services. We got the same outcome as always with this question. There are not such super human who have all skills needed. We need teams. We need to team up. Two people working in the team is better than two people working singly. And it so much more fun to work with other people. Isn’t it?

This reminds me the importance of networks. I’m writing this blog for my network of course. For the professional and the private network. There was quite many people who suggested that to me. It would be nice to know who are reading this. May I ask you to write your names and maybe you organization or how you know me to the comment field? (Click the link “Leave a reply“). It would also be a nice plus to my report on this trip.

uncork my Big Mac now. Thank you for reading!

Best regards,

Second week

English language

My English is hardly improved. But nowadays I’m more than aware that I can discuss topics like information retrieval, research data management, open access repositories, etc. quite smoothly. However, if someone asks me about my weekend, I’m struggling. I could write a pretty good answer, but to say it laud. It’s almost impossible. I hardly ever speak everyday English, I only use English at work. Why can I write the answer then? I use English by listening (conferences, TV series and audio books), reading (professional staff and many kind of novels) and writing (guides). Hopefully I improve my small talk skills here. I actually have learned couple of useful lines already.

For Finns the small talk question: “How are you?” is not easy to answer. I know that it is not a real question. You need to say. “Excellent, thanks! [+broad smile]” And move on. You don’t need to ask back (how are you), because… I really don’t know why?! If I ask, they look surprised. Well, this is only one example of many small things, I need to learn.

Mentoring plan

This week, I wrote a mentoring plan for new research librarian (Joy). The plan is very simple. We’ll arrange scheduled meeting every week. Joy decides the topics and her own learning goals. I gave her one article for inspiration. Keller, Alice; “Research Support in Australian University Libraries: An Outsider View.”

I like that article. It sums up the research library trends quite nicely. Even though I don’t 100% agree with trends. I think researchers really need education about information search and how to use awareness services. If this education and web guides are not in place, why waste time for Open Access awareness? Although OA is important, it’s not essential. The research administration needs something else, like research output assessment and quickly updated publication lists of organization. There are some similarities of needs of course. Maybe there could be two kind of research librarians? Those how are specialized to work with researchers and those who works nicely with administration. It’s difficult to be both. I have tried for over 10 years now. I hope someday I could concentrate research services with researchers.

Even in small library, you need to prioritize and choose the most important goals. Joy and I will work with that during next weeks. Should we listen the library director and other administrative staff? Oh yes, but first Joy needs to find her strengths. There are many! She’s very talented library professional. I’ll try to help her find out how to use those skills in the Clinical library environment.

Research data management policy

This week I have read lots of research data policies. I concentrate to Australian ones. Those are a bit different kind than European data policies. Australian policies are more like mixture of policy and practical guidelines. Many of them are very long. Like policy of the University of Melbourne: Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records: I like the practical form name “Disposal of Research Data and Records”. That kind of check list could be useful to our researchers too.

The Australian National Data Service provides the data management policy outline (You find it here: Most Australian data polices I red, followed more or less that outline. I hope we can use it also in Barwon Health.

Publication list of the Barwon Health

The research is international and we face same problems on research services everywhere. Like how we write an accurate up-to-date publication list to our organization? How to find the publication, while researchers sometimes seems to forget where they work or horrible academic publishers forces them to choose only one affiliation. This week, we made publication list for Barwon Health’s annual report. Luckily Joy had a nice publication list in excel. She had made it for a publication archive she updates. We need to use one Excel macro (open URL > text string), several Excel functions, search and replace in Word, before we got useable PubMed ID list for PubMed search and with help of reference management software we get nice looking publication list.

(Speaking of reference management software. We tested Mendeley this week and generated a joke. This is our statement: “We tested Mendeley carefully, and therefore we strongly recommend to use EndNote.”)

Culture shock

In this point of our trip, all members of my family suffers a culture shock of some level. We easy that by jokes. These jokes are insiders, of course. You can’t understand those, if you don’t know where we come from. However I’m going to tell you one.

Iikka (15years) told this one: “Why Australians don’t have coat racks in the hall?” [No coat racks here anywhere]
Me: ”No, why?”
Iikka: “Australians don’t need the coat rack, they need coats to survive indoors during winter.”

This trip is really a hard core adventure to me and my family.

Here are many positive thing too. I’m just thinking the strategy how I could get one of those very handy instant boiling machines (Picture 1) to my Finnish workplace. You can get hot water for your tea from that tap. No need waiting electric water boiler. I have seen many kind of these apparatus here. Some of them are very modern. These machines can also make chilled water:

Instant water boiling machine

Picure 1: The instant boiling water machine.

There is only one problem. There are very few people at work in Finland who drinks tea. I’ll keep dreaming!

Best regards,
Mari Elisa Kuusniemi


The data management policy outline, ANDS:

Keller, Alice. “Research Support in Australian University Libraries: An Outsider View.” Australian Academic & Research Libraries ahead-of-print (2015): 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/00048623.2015.1009528

Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records, the University of Melbourne:


First week

This is my blog of my trip to Australia where I work as a volunteer in Barwon Health, University Hospital which is located in Geelong nearby Melbourne. I’m going to tell my family, friends and colleagues my experiences here, both professional and personal. I’m writing this in English, but I’ll not check my language or typing. Let’s hope my English improves in these 12 weeks I’m spending in Australia.

(My sister in law is English teacher and she will be very frustrated while reading this.)

First work week

I found out the hospitals are like the same in this part of world and in Finland. In a hospital people are busy, cafeteria is noisy place, building(s) is/are like a labyrinth and always under construction. I felled like home when I for the first time stepped through the Barwon Health’s door.

Researchers in the Barwon Health are conducting clinical research (~75%). I need to keep that in my mind, because I more usually work with more academic medical research. This remains me about the article I got from my colleague (Minna Ahokas, from dmpTuuli project). In this article the findings about different demands of RDM services in different research fields are interesting, but I find the most interesting how they put different kind of research groups to four domains: art&humanities, social sciences, basic science and medical science. Research groups from the Medical faculty they put to three different domains: social sciences, basic science and medical science. Because of the variety off the research subjects.[1] As soon I read about their methodology I thought: “These guys knows what they are doing!”

I think in Barwon Health’s clinical researchers are conducting mainly medical science, but some of them can do more social science type research. I can also find some basic science among those who do more academic type research, but I doubt that. I can be wrong though.

Something differs though compared to Finland. Here is many different kind of informative poster in the walls and everywhere else like the one in picture 1. This is located in toilet, where you can read it while sitting there. Maybe there is also similar health information posters in our hospital (Helsinki University Hospital), but I’ve not seen those.

Picture 1: Stand up for your health!

What I’m going to do here? They are starting research services in the library of Barwon health with the research administration. The research librarian is hired, but she’s not experienced research librarian. No, she has worked in a school library. I should help her to start research support services of this clinical library, while somehow mentoring her. I mean research services including a research data management support, implementation of a DMP tool, research evaluation assessment (bibliometrics) as a service to research administration, etc.

In these 12 weeks I also help with developing an educational program for clinical researchers and physicians. And if there is not enough, while discussing with research director, I happened to mention ORCIDs we should get for all researchers in hospital (~120). And in the same discussion we came to the conclusion that we need the Data Policy for the Barwon Health. We can’t do DMPs if there is no Data Policy. True.

Well, I have a feeling that from day 1 I’m starting to act like I used to act back home. I’m the one who keeps me very busy all the time. Even I sometimes try to do only what I’m told to do, not suggesting something more I think is important all the time (like ORCIDs and the Data Policy this time). But this is just how I work. [Sigh]

Here the nature is very exotic for a Fin. We have seen Rainbow parrots, palm trees, sea star, huge pelican, small herons and much more. Food is good here, but it’s difficult to find healthy choices. Here is easy to find low fat products, but sugar and salt levels are very high. Even so called nature yogurt can contain 15% sugar, ham contain salt 10 times more than in Finnish ham (I prefer Snellman’s ham). But kiwi fruits are excellent. I have never ate so sweet kiwi fruits than here. Australian Afternoon tea (Twinings) I’m going to take home when we are leaving. It’ tastes heavenly with milk.

Tomorrow we travel by local train to Melbourne to see the big city. I’m sure it will be an adventure!

Best regards,
Mari Elisa Kuusniemi

[1] Akers, Katherine G., and Jennifer Doty. “Disciplinary differences in faculty research data management practices and perspectives.” International Journal of Digital Curation 8, no. 2 (2013): 5-26. []