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

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.

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. []