Twelfth week

The twelve weeks visit in Australia is behind. And it was time to go home. I write this blog post in the train heading to Liminka (near by Oulu). Aim of this trip is to bring our cat’s home. My younger son Kuutti game as companion. He takes a couple of days leave from a school to recover from a jet leg. The real reason is that he wants to be the one cats meet first.imagePicture 1: In the train on the way to Oulu.

In the end I did tick all the boxes on my task list (see the blog post On my last week at work, I got the project report ready (the funder’s approval needed before I can share it), the research data management plan checklist was pratically approved and we had first workshop of the data policy.

Delivery of the data policy

How was the first workshop? I think it was like those are always. What happens if you put around the table an IT boss who is not familiar with RDM, a patient record database expert, a biostatistician, a manager of ethics unit, a research director, a library director and me? Well, a lot of things can happen, but it’s very unlikely that first meeting can give a lots of results.

This meeting was on my last workday. So it was very easy for me just wait while they talked mostly about relevant but also irrelevant things, like format of data policy. 🙂 My mission was to start the conversation of data policy. There was no chance to get it ready in 12 weeks. Even though the data policy draft we wrote is very close from the one they need. It follows the ANDS outline for data policies. And it’s based on an interview study and follows the data management policy tradition of Australian research organizations.

There are no lack of information how to build up a data policy. See the DCC collection here:

Like in many cases, when people need to agree something, it takes some time to ingest the new things and information, before we are ready to make decisions. And that is challenging when writing a policy, not the facts but how to handle situation where some people need more time to think than others. I hate pondering, therefore I’m not the right person for this job, and I happily gave policy negotiations for others to handle. 🙂 The library director Ann can carry on from here.

I bet this process will end like it ended in Univ Helsinki. Where the final data policy did not differ very much from the first draft, but a couple of meetings were needed before all could be happy about the policy. It took about 7 month in Helsinki. We’ll see how long it will take in Barwon Health. I hope, they will write a fine policy which gives researchers a guidance and support they need in a form easy to find, read and implement.

The glory of a visiting scholar

It was nice to have an opportunity be a visiting scholar for a while. It’s not the same thing than you start as a new person in a new organization. No, you have a some kind of glory around you. If you are visiting scholar, sure you must be an expert of something, right? So, even you are new in organization you get a head start to build a professional status. It’s also challenging, while you should be the expert like everybody expects. But you can only be you, and I could only be me. Not perfect but hopefully good enough. 🙂

Coming home

Today my son did use English in a bus while buying a ticket, just by accident. It was a reflex. Then he complained about staff in markets here are not so nice than they are in Australia. They don’t say hello when we enter the shop. Just after, we walk in the pet shop (to buy treats for the cats) and clerk said hello, and Kuutti happily said hello back. See, there are nice and polite shop keepers in Finland as well. But in grocery stores they don’t ask: how are you or where are you from, or how long you will stay, etc. Maybe in Easter Finland they do, but not in Helsinki.

While we were in Australia boys complained because not all thing were like in Finland and here they see very clearly the difference as well. Let’s see how many times I’ll find my self telling others how things were so much better in Australia! 🙂

Best regards, MEK

Eleventh week

This weekend we visited Tasmania. I used my two days off (plus weekend) hiking, feeding kangaroos, petting wombats, admiring very tall gum trees, biking, hiking again and driving a car.

IMG_8176Keep left

Yes, I was driving a car at wrong side of the road. I’m so used to do so, that I’m worried, if I remember how to drive on the right side of the road, when I’ll go back to Finland. And what happens, when I’ll try open or to unlock doors? I need to remember they open opposite direction than here. Eleven weeks is not very long time, but it’s long enough to chance some habits.

There is something I have learnt that I actually can use at home, of course. And that was the point to come here. I’m not entirely sure, what are the most important things I got, future will tell that. But one thing I can say. And it’s the thing that library can’t work as a separate island in a university/organization. Or it can be a warehouse where books and journals have been taken care of. What do you think, is the library a warehouse or a center of information services? I think it is a service center. The library collection services and other services, like information literacy training and research services, should be linked to the mother organization and in many cases the link could be to the administration procedures.

A small part of bureaucratic machinery

It could be wise to link information of library services to research administration processes a research project needs to pass. In medicine we could link important information to a ethic application process. Not everything, but advertisement about literature search support and training, reference management softwares, open access repository, research data management guidance, etc. Data management planning support can be linked to the grant application process. We tried it in Univ Helsinki and I think it works quite nicely. Maybe it feels not so nice to be part of the bureaucratic machinery of the organization. Especially because we know how much researchers hate administration. But it is for sure more effective than lurking in the Facebook or Research gate.

About the information… I got a hint from the director of the research ethic unit about a good guide:”A guide to good research practice”, From a research data management point of view, I think it’s very good guide. But from information seeking point of view… There is nothing about the literature search as a part of good research. I wonder why. Maybe the library was not invited to take part to writing project.


Picture: Fossils at Maria Island, Tasmani (CC 4.0 BY Mikael Niku)

Last week is here

This a beginning of our last week here in Australia. It has been very nice being here. But at the same time whole family is ready to go home. My sons miss they friends and fast internet connections. My husband is ready to go to work after taking caring of boys so long. He especially dreams about our house where boys have rooms in different floors. I miss the shower with a thermostat and fast internet connections. And we all miss our cats. My mother of law has taken care of the cats and they have spent wonderful time on the old farm my parents in law live in. But the cats have missed us. The female (Siru) just recently stopped waiting us very near by the house and joined her brother more distant explores heading the country side near by (mother of law is keeping eye on them all the time). So she might have decided, that we are not coming back. I wonder how they react when we will.

See you,

Ps. I bought chocolate from the Hobart airport. Clerk wanted to warn me and make sure I was aware it was DARK chocolate. “Oh yeah, that’s why I bought it”, I said. The face of the clerk made me laugh, I couldn’t help it.

Tenth week

When do you have too many balls in the air at the same time? Easy answer: today. I missed a very important Skype meeting (at least I thought it was important). And I was the organizer of the meeting! I felt so embarrassed!

I heard later they had a good meeting and they made great results, even though I was not there. Well, I’m not a very important person after all and I’m so pleased to hear that!

(I did know that of course! But sometimes you just forget that, especially if you are very busy.)

Picture 1: Scary signs here! (However, my limbs did not fall.)

Writing reports

I’m writing reports of the projects I have been involved in here, in English. Yeah, English is not my strongest skill, so it takes much longer than normally to write and I can’t polish the reports too much (or at all) or I never get those ready.

Following the same strategy, I made a presentation of project findings. I was surprised when got positive feedback of it, from several people. They think the presentation was clear and main message was easy to understand. Yeah. Well, I could not write very much. That’s why I draw graphs/pictures and used less words. Every word needs to be so important I wanted to practice to pronounce those words. Even practiced, I could not pronounce some words after all. It did not matter. (They read the words from the Power Point slide.)

I have learned something here. If you don’t spend so much time polishing your reports or presentations, you can save time for more important things. And you can even sometimes miss a meeting and the world will not collapse. I don’t know why I couldn’t figure that out in Finnish, but great that because of my “English handicap” I got this wisdom. 🙂

Best regards, MEK

Ps. We visited the Grampians this weekend. It’s an amazing place!

View Grampians
Picture 2: View from the Grampians. © Mikael Niku

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.

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. []