This week I am reviewing the QUT Library program for developing researchers skills. As an academic library its focus is on student collections and ensuring their research needs are met. Along with the great researchers centre on level 7 the QUT library also offers a number of workshops for developing skills in researching. Some of these programs include using Nvivo, EndNote and ePrints Express. These programs you wouldn’t normally hear about until you start working on research subjects. Due to their complexity they may be hard to learn in sufficient time during the start of a semester when studying research units. Therefore, it is highly recommended to get to know these software programs before beginning research subjects.
To access available workshops you enter the research portal on the QUT website (requires QUT login). Some of the current workshops that are available include:
- Introduction to Nvivo
- The essentials for using EndNote in a hands-on workshop
- ePrints Express
- Build your research profile
You can see this as a digital literacy program in certain software applications that help researchers in their reports. Although as Dr John Turner in The difference between Digital Learning and Digital Literacy? argues that digital literacy elements go “beyond particular software skills to include extension, adaptability, problem-solving, connection and reflection.” Without these additional skills such programs are simply digital learning and not digital literacy. QUT research programs however target the development of research skills. In so doing they develop student skills as part of the Research Skill Development Framework and therefore the programs do follow the definition of digital literacy.
I have attended previously an Nvivo session and found the workshop ideal in firstly introducing the program but also in developing some advanced skills in its use. Nvivo is a software program that allows you to perform qualitative analysis on articles and other content. It allows you to tag, sort and reference sections so you can then perform analysis and modelling. The workshops in Nvivo start from introductory and extend to intermediate and advanced levels. The workshops also extend out to data mining social media and using Nvivo for literature review.
The only negative I can see with these workshops is that unless you are told they exist it isn’t something you would find available. The Nvivo program was only mentioned during an introductory lecture for IFN701 project. Without this mention I probably would never have known about the timetable of workshops on offer. And thus I would never have found out about the larger range of workshops available.
I would recommend attending Nvivo or Endnote sessions if you are a researcher or plan on doing research units in your course. The workshops are great to give you an understanding of what programs are out there that can save you a lot of time in sorting through a large set of articles. To attempt to get a grasp of these programs at the start of a semester is very difficult as you will inevitably be slowed down by the steep learning curve.
QUT library and the website provide a great opportunity to enter programs to further ones research skills. However, finding these programs or even knowing they exist is not great. As Jane Secker discusses in Digital Literacy Support for Researchers “Researchers like students will not always know who can help them in their own institution. Therefore it is vital that research services are targeted appropriately and that research support staff work together collaboratively to promote their services effectively.” Without this proactive targeting the services that QUT library provides may not reach all the students that need them.