Ninth week

What I have done this week at work? I don’t remember. I think, I did something, at least I felt busy. But it couldn’t be anything important, if I can’t remember it.

But I remember, we had a very nice dinner with library director Ann and her husband David and some of their friends, at the local restaurant. Good food, drinks and a lots of laugh. All very important. 🙂

Yesterday we went to Melbourne to see the Lion King musical. It was an amazing performance. Before the show, we ate Italian food I love. Melbourne is organized, nice city, where is easy to travel. We are now familiar with the city center and trams. Therefore we can easily enjoy all nice things a big city can offer. For me, there is a large botanic garden, museums and theater, for the boys superb comics and game shops and the zoo.

lion king

Picture 1: In the  Regent Theatre to see Lion King. © Mikael Niku

Spring is here, even the weather is not warmer, but fruit trees are blooming and a allergy medication advertising begins in TV (= certain sing of spring).

Have you seen a dataset lately?

While I can’t remember what I did at work, I remember that Blair pointed out something about the article, I shared on my last blog post (Joanna Richardson, Rebecca A. Brown, Malcolm Wolski (2015): Developing new skills for research support librarians). He had highlighted the quotation:

“For many academic librarians moving into the data management space, “data” is just a word. How many academic librarians have seen a dataset recently? . . . . If I could have seen a raw dataset or data collection prepared for sharing and reuse, versioned correctly, saved in an appropriate file format, licensed, assigned a DOI, described using an appropriate metadata schema, uploaded into a content management system, and made discoverable for reuse, then I think I could have saved many hours of reading and scratching my head.”

I think this quotation hits the nail on the head. I got this week a couple of emails where mentioned this very same problem. It would be so much easier to think about metadata or documentation of dataset, if you actually have seen the dataset or any dataset. And the variation between different types of datasets need to be understand as well.

What can we do? Where can we see the datasets?

There is no lack of available datasets. See here:

Sometimes it’s difficult to read or even partly understand a dataset, but that’s so much easier, than manage data in real life. But nevertheless, it’s not mission impossible. It’s mission important and interesting.

We all have seen a dataset. Or can we make a master thesis without data? But how to get to know the data management of other disciplines? You can make an interview, of course. If you want to know more information about data interviews, please explore here:

But interview can’t give you a real life experience. Therefore, should we try to work a while in a research group, managing the data? Yes, I think so.

I bet, it would be a nice adventure!

Best regards,

Joanna Richardson, Rebecca A. Brown, Malcolm Wolski (2015): Developing new skills for research support librarians [link to Helsinki University library collection, link is not working else where].

Eighth week

Sydney Opera House

We visited Sydney last weekend. We went to see the opera house, of course. We participated on the tour to see inside the building. There we heard that the architect was Danish Jørn Utzon, the roof is covered by ceramic tiles from Höganäs of Sweden. And who actually choose the modern expressionist design of the opera house? According to legend, he was Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen. So, thanks to Nordic collaboration, Sydney got a world famous opera house. 🙂 It feels sometimes that earth is only a tiny rock where we live together, interacting each others. Even we don’t notice it.

The opera house was not the building project with the accurate plan or budget. The project was completed ten years late and 1457% over budget in real terms [Wikipedia]. But no worries, they covered the budged by lottery. They needed to sell quite a few raffle tickets, but two years after the building project, all costs were covered. Why can’t we find so brilliant ideas to cover the costs of library’s projects? Maybe we could try harder.

Opera house

Picture 1: Sydney Opera House (CC 4.0 BY Mikael Niku)

Australian data management atmosphere

This week I took part (or listened) in a data librarians catch up webinar organized by ANDS. There were 60 participants. The webinar was encouraging. That especially brings to my mind, how much I enjoy being here, because of a very nice “research data management atmosphere”.

I have met and interviewed researchers and research support providers, in order to develop research data management (RDM) services of the library and the research policy for the hospital. We are exploring the existing services, researchers need and the gaps we need to fill. Most of the people I have met, really understand the need and importance on good RDM practice and need in policies, guides and education. It has been pleasure to discuss these topics with them all.

One reason why the atmosphere is different is because the driver is not funding. It’s the Code: Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research: Section 2 (about data management) is our guide, not easy to follow, but the mission is clear. It’s clear to researchers (at least seniors) and support providers.

Australians are so much ahead of us in the RDM business. ANDS has done wonderful job, their webpages are a treasure chest I use almost daily. It was quite easy to write a data policy for organization when there are dozens Australian policies to take a cue from. Let see how soon they will agree the final policy paper in the hospital, but the draft was not hard to write, even Australian policies differ from European ones (I’m used to) a great deal.

Unicorn librarian

ANDS also tries to build up the networks of data librarians. Because we need network to survive. In the webinar, we were discussing the concept Unicorn librarian. They are librarians you can meet in the job descriptions of data librarians. When you need to be something unreal and do daily basis something that  nobody really understand, it’s nice to know that you are not alone. There are other data librarians out there (on this tiny rock).

In addition to nice conversation, we got a long list of readings (here only selection of those). I so loved these I printed and took those to Sydney with me. I read prints in the plain and felt so relived. There is something that really resonates me.

  • Joanna Richardson, Rebecca A. Brown, Malcolm Wolski (2015): Developing new skills for research support librarians. Routledge.
  • Data Librarians and a Stacked Deck by Jake Carlson, Research Data Services Manager, University of Michigan to eScience Community Blog, July 2015. (This blog post leads you to many other nice blog posts)
  • DataQ – a new, collaborative platform and community aimed at addressing research data questions in academic libraries. (All tools should be made like this, in )

Work list right now

My work list is little shorter than last week.

  • The publication list and bibliometric analysis for the annual report is finally ready.
  • We decided that we will not arrange the HLA seminar with the ANDS after all. (I was disappointed, but you can’t get all in the three-month period of time.)
  • The data policy is more or less out of my hands. I handed the draft over the director of research department.
  • The plan how the library will start staff training (of researchers and clinicians) is almost ready.
  • We improved the workflow of the publication repository (we can now import the metadata of hundreds of articles at the time from PubMed instead of copy-paste one line at the time).
  • I started to make a report of our findings (meetings with researchers and other staff). I’ll give a presentation about that next Monday. So thumps up, I’ll manage with that.
  • I found the model I’ll make a DMP check list for hospital. It has to be quick to make and easy to maintain. And this one is: I’ll need to add some resources link to each points, but that’s it.
  • Plus some little things. Like we really need to make decision about which reference management software we’ll choose.

I have plenty of time to finish everything. Almost four weeks!

All the best for you all,

Seventh week

Duffel versus GoreTex coat

It’s winter time in Australia. Even thought it’s not very cold here, most of the people are wearing winter cloths. Duffel coat seems to be very popular. When it really is cold here, it’s because of the heavy wind or rain. Duffel coats protect you neither of those, GoreTex would be better choice obviously. Then why people are wearing wool coats? Because of tradition, of course.

I’m very lucky I don’t need to change the coat wearing habits. But i constantly need to make changes to my own work and need to get others to change they work routines. It’s a very nice job, the best actually and I enjoy it, but not always easy. The reasoning is not enough, you need to handle the feelings as well. I’m not very talented in that, but I have found one strategy which works sometimes. I try to find compromises. Like GoreTex coat looking like Duffel coat. (I actually own a winter coat like that.)

Chasing trends

Trends of the research library services are changing all the time. The current trends are for example: open science, altmetrics, mobile services and research data management. Because I get bored very easily, I (most of the time) welcome new trends and jump in the first wave. I understand everybody can’t act like that. The library services need stability and tradition. But too must tradition will kill it.

The research services needs to move quite fast because researchers need to move so fast, especially in the medical field. But even there, we can’t chase every trend. Or can we? Is there actually any possibilities we ignore those?

If you want to know more about the current trends, here are sources I like:

In the train heading middle of nowhere

This weekend we will visit my husbands old friends. I don’t have a clue where we are heading. My husband make all arrangements. I’m writing this blog post in the train, during 5 hours trip. From windows I can see only darkness. I’m feeling great, because I trust my husband. This weekend will be great, the hotel will be nice, the people, I have never met, will be friendly.

Sometimes my research data team members must feel like I’m leading them to the unknown waters. I hope they can feel safe during the journey. I try to be trustworthy. I hope we will find land anytime soon.

Best regards,

Ps. A very nice couple give us lift to our hotel last night. In the train, we asked them, if it’s safe to walk or should we take a taxi. They desided to take us to hotel. People are so friendly here!

Sixth week

It is sixth week now and six weeks to go. We are in the middle of our stay here in Australia. The rest of the trip always goes faster than beginning and I’m a pit worried if I manage to do all I meant to do. That’s why I made a list of tasks and tomorrow I deal the days remaining (26 workdays) on the tasks. Then I don’t need to worry anymore. I just follow the list and that’s it!

Semantic interoperability

Semantic interoperability is the concept sometimes hard to explain. Wikipedia definition is:

“Semantic interoperability is the ability of computer systems to exchange data with unambiguous [=clear], shared meaning. Semantic interoperability is a requirement to enable machine computable logic, inferencing [=reasoning], knowledge discovery, and data federation [=connections] between information systems.”

[ ] = added by the editor MEK

Semantic interoperability is also needed in a real life communication between people. If you want to change information with someone, it’s easier if you are familiar with that person’s meaning, logic, reasoning and connections.

Because I’m foreign here, my meaning, logic, reasoning and connections are not familiar to others (and I don’t always understand them as well). So I need to explain things more than usually.


  • No, I don’t think weather is cold. (12-15⁰C is not cold. I think the weather is cold when temperature is under 0⁰C, if even then.)
  • No, in Finland there is not cold inside the houses. There is about 22⁰C during whole year in every room of the house. We don’t need warm water bottles or electric blankets. (The summer cottages are sometimes exceptions.)
  • We often wear work shoes in the work place in Helsinki Univ library. Yes, we change shoes when we come to work. (Outdoor shoes are too warm to wear inside.) That’s why I change shoes, I’m so used to it.
  • I thought blue milk is low fat and red milk more fat. Because in Finland that’s the way.. here just the opposite.

But it’s not a bad thing that you need to think that others may not understand you. It makes me think things I normally take for granted. Other people can’t read my mind anyway or anywhere, so better to explain a pit more.

So I decided to explain…

Who are the customers of library research services?

To whom we provide research services? Easy answer is: for the researchers. But how to to define researchers. If I say they make research, I end up the real circular reasoning.

I trust you know who is a researcher and what is research, but there are other customer groups we serve.

  • Research administration (publication reporting, research outcome evaluation, etc).
  • Students (before and after graduation) when they make research type tasks.
  • Teachers when they design courses including research tasks.
  • Clinicians when they need information to make or update practice guidelines, etc.
  • Clinicians when they need information to help them decide how to cure/help patients.

Research services are for those who make research, learn or teach how to make research and those how use research outcomes (literature, information, data) to make decisions.

It’s sometimes not easy to draw a line. Some of you may add patients (when they need to find information of health) to this list. Quite right, but in my mind patients are a somewhat different. I think they often need other type information than these other groups. My semantics is somehow linked to information needs, information sources and information practices. And those need to be “the research type” to make a library customer to the customer of library research services.

Australian nature

Australians are easy going people by nature and they are very polite. So polite that  Australian funders don’t want to ask researchers to write research data plans as a part of grant applications, because they think researchers are not ready for that.


This was an explanation I heard in an seminar organized by ANDS a couple of weeks ago ( Drivers of the research data management are different here than in Europe because of this. It’s not a bad thing, however it’s a difference I need to assimilate.

Australian nature

The Australian nature is very beautiful! We enjoyed some sights this weekend. Here is one picture of our trip on the Great Ocean Road. It was a nice adventure!


Best regards,

Fifth week

Lack of the English muscles

I found one more challenge in my English skills. I don’t have muscles needed to speak it. I know the word, I know how it should be pronounced, but it does not come out of my mouth or throat (like G). So I decided to find training program for these muscles. And I did. Here is an article about it:

So now I practice my English by reading laud local newspaper (Geelong Independent) and with difficult words like:

  • prescription (this was the word why I decided I needed to do something to this problem)
  • vocabulary
  • development, developmental
  • necessarily, essential
  • advertisement

After hard training, I can now say prescription and sometimes I use vocabulary, so that other people can understand it.

Liason, Embedded, Branch, Data or Medical librarian?

This week we discussed with Joy about the Role of the research librarian in Health libraries. I’m a pit worried I can give her only my opinion of this issue. And my opinion is not the one librarians commonly agrees. So I try to find somehow neutral ways to discuss this. I did not succeed.

First I give a list of the common research support services of libraries:

  • Collections (linked to research life cycle => the foundation of other services)
  • Training (Information literacy, awareness services, systematic search strategies, etc.)
  • Scholarly Publishing and Repository (academic writing, reference management, selection of Publication media, Open Access, dissemination of research findings, Publication repository, ResearcherIDs like ORCIDs, etc.)
  • Research Impact Measurement (Bibliometrics for all variety purposes from Annual reports to selection process of new Professors/senior physician, Altmetrics)
  • Research date management (training, guides, toolkits, support writing DMPs)
  • Grand application (this is actually selection of other services mentioned above: literature search, research impact services, DMPs, publication list of researchers, etc.)

But after presenting this list I realized that this is my list. This is how I see the library research services. This is not neutral, even I did find these from different libraries web pages. It’s not easy to be neutral if you have a strong opinion how things should be done. 😀

A list of library services don’t even tell you what is the role of research librarian. There is so many ways to arrange the service. Should we be Liason, Embedded, Branch, Data or Medical librarians?

So I tried to search different research librarian and health librarian job adds to find out more of the roles available. We read those job descriptions + articles about modern role of research librarians and found out that there are easy to conquer vacancies available (I find those quite dull), but many more vacancies for super humans. One of these is the job description of research librarian in Barwon Health. That is a very wide role. In fact you need to be all these; Liason, Embedded, Branch, Data and Medical librarian. Isn’t it wonderful?

I have been an embedded type librarian of a couple of research groups. It was very wonderful, rewarding job to do. It did take some time before they get to know me, I need to work hard for that. But when they did, I could be part of their research process in so many different ways. But then I needed to be part of other projects of library. And it was hard! I couldn’t walk those corridors these research groups where located, I need to go around that building outside, because if they saw me, they needed something important. And I did not have time for them as needed.

I get them to trust me first and then I had to let them down. At least I felt like that. It was horrible. I do not want to never ever do  that again. If you are a real embedded librarian you need to be only embedded librarian. Or it can be a project that stops scheduled. To draw a line will not be easy task anyway.

I like this nice article about embedded librarianship by Jake Carlson and Ruth Kneale [1]. It is a practical guide for those who are planning to work as a part of research group as a librarian.

To be an embedded librarian, even a short period, teaches a lot. At least I feel like I it really did. In a small library it’s not so essential though. In a small library you look outside of library world quite naturally. It’s why I love small libraries so much.

Research life cycle again

We had a workshop with all library staff members ( but director. She’s on the holiday in UK). All staff members means Blair, Helen, Joy and me. Not too large group of people. This time I give them post-it-notes + markers of different color and asked them to write keywords related to research. I give them 10 minutes time to write. (It was too much, they were faster.) I draw the circle to a white board and after writing we started to build the Research life cycle cloud around the circle. You can see that in the Picture 1.
(Maybe you even can see it right way this time, if the bug of this blog service is repaired.)

Research life cycle

Picture 1: Research life cycle of Clinical/Medical research [CC 4.0 BY-SA].

The mysterious red balloon on the right is the administration process with regulating authors. I mean those governmental organizations supervising the health, medical, clinical and drug research. Like Fimea in Finland (

We found out that all staff members did know the research life cycle quite well. You can see same keywords many times on the white board. It is a nice starting point for service research development. But we see the life cycle quite differently than researchers. Or we stress different parts. We give more space for them on the white board than researchers would give. We gave a half of the life cycle for writing and publishing. That’s is not usually the case in clinical or medical research. For some senior researchers, the research idea and grant applications are the main part of research life cycle and for some doctoral student the laboratory work is the thing they uses most of their time.

This time I gave one research article to workshop participants as a home work. Its name is “Medical scientists’ information practices in the research work context”, by Annikki Roos, Terkko – Medical Campus library, Helsinki University Library [2]. It is quite hard work to read it, because of information (or more like social) science framework needed to increase the academic value of the article. But there is nice results and a very good discussion. Next time when I’ll make research about this same topic, I ask researchers to write the life cycle like they see it and I measure the space they use for different things.

My brains like to change qualitative things to quantitative numbers. That way you can’t make highly valuated academic science, but sometimes it works for practical purposes. It could help telling other librarians how researchers are thinking. Or I may do that research for fun anyway. Or I could give this task for my team members. 😀


We moved yesterday nearby coast line. We have a nice view (Picture 2) and it lures us to go outside for a walk. So we will.


Best regards,


[1] Carlson, Jake, and Ruth Kneale. “Embedded librarianship in the research context navigating new waters.” College & Research Libraries News 72, no. 3 (2011): 167-170.[]

[2] Roos, Annikki. “Medical scientists’ information practices in the research work context.” Health Information & Libraries Journal 32, no. 1 (2015): 23-36.