With such a wide pool of talented trainees in every academic concentration and in every discipline at Florida State University, the following sentence may seem strange: You should consider adding a library and information science student to your application pool. Considering that I am an academic librarian-in-training, I will admit that I am a little biased. However, there is a concise methodology at work here.
In the fall semester of 2017, I was invited to join the Florida Learning Disability Research Center (FLDRC) under Dr. Sara Hart. On top of a project that studies the reading and math co-development in a diverse sample of twins, Sara is also in charge of the Engagement Core of the Center as well.
You may be asking: What is an Engagement Core? Well, here is a quick rundown…
- Serves as the central point of dissemination and translation of publications, research updates, and news.
- Serves as the private hub for scholarly communication within a research grant.
- Depending on the needs of faculty, develops innovative and efficient ways to share resources and research across multiple projects.
- Develops ways to track and train new researchers.
- Knowledge of federal information policies.
A core course of the Master’s of Science in Information (MSI) program here at FSU is LIS 5411 – or information policy, which focuses on policy issues within the US government related to intellectual property, accessibility, privacy, service, and equity. Chances are, an MSI student has also taken advanced levels of this course as well.
At the FLDRC, I was able to give a webinar on the policies of federally-funded grants in regards to open data policy. If you are a researcher, there is a good chance that you are funded by some sort of grant. Adding someone from the library and information science world—even at the trainee level—can be helpful to your research process. MSI students can analyze and assess the quality of your data and assure that it is up to federal standards.
2. Emerging technologies and software that can aid in the research process.
The library world is changing. The days of simple card catalogs and dial-up internet are long gone. In the past two decades, information technology and computer science has seen a boom like no other. In academia, library systems are pushing to get to the forefront of this encounter. Librarians are now learning how to code in a variety of languages—such as python, R, and SQL—and conducting workshops on how they can aid in research for all disciplines. On the technology side, FSU Libraries has successfully used 3D modeling and 3D printing as a supplement to several research projects by faculty.
3. Knowledge on how to increase citation impact and providing metric reports.
One of the core initiatives of academic librarians that work in digital research, digital scholarship, and academic publication is increasing the citation impact of publications, discovering ways for your research to reach a wider audience. Adding an MSI student into your project is a low-cost way to potentially boost the amount of times your research is cited by other scholars or on social media.
4. Jack-of-all-trades academics, who may also be familiar with your field.
Librarians are notorious for ending up in their field “accidentally.” Many MSI students are older, have work experience under their belt, and/or hold multiple degrees. You truly do not know the scope of an MSI student until you sit down with them for an interview. It is not uncommon for an MSI student to hold a J.D. or even a Ph.D.—somewhere along the line, they probably decided that their passion was in information access the entire time.
Doing research in STEM? Consider hiring an MSI student with a background in biology, computer science, or physics – there are more than you think. Attempting to recreate a dig site into a 3D model? Consider hiring an MSI student who has a degree in archaeology, anthropology, or classics. Attempting to digitize the works of a 20th century Beat writer? The MSI program is saturated with seasoned humanities students.
Not only are MSI students equipped to add library services and techniques to your research endeavors, but if you find a good match, they are likely to be familiar with your area of work as well.