Reimaging the University Helpdesk for the Next Generation of Digital Research Skills (abstract)
Dr. Steven Manos, David F. Flanders and Dr. Fiona Tweedie
Can’t hope to offer one-to-one support to all the researchers they need to support (especially in the context of the “digital native researcher”) so want to reimagine how they offer support.
Asked researchers what tools they use:
eg python, git, chrome, WebGL, OpenGL, Data-Driven Documents
eg ArcGIS, Google Maps, SPSS
eg Terminal, Matlab, Dropbox, Evernote, iPhone camera
eg Anaconda, R, PsychoPy, iPython, Markdown
Often have enormous of array of tools in their toolbox but still want to add more tools, so how can we hope to help them.
“Community: it’s what makes digital research possible”. Instead of supporting researchers with tools, encourage/facilitate users of these tools to support each other. [Ooh so much potential here.] Build community. Researchers already often learn from each other. All training done by researchers. Research networks tend to be self-sustaining and ongoing.
“A helpdesk is reactive. A training community is proactive.”
Sometimes run into “I have books, leave me alone” and “I don’t computer”. But many excited by being able to flash up a paper by adding a customised map. Workshop on this, very popular, researchers coming back, had 3-4 papers come out.
Software carpentry – teaching coding to non-coders. Teaching them enough coding to be able to make use of Python, R, Matlab in their work (eg a for loop) to make their lives easier without trying to turn them into computer scientists. Taught by researchers for researchers. Intensive, hands-on, many helpers. Every 15min stop talking and they do a challenge to put into practice. Code breaks – important for people to see how this works: you google the error message, the answer is on StackOverflow and you patch it up and continue.
Data carpentry assumes no coding experience. Teaching text mining/analysis for humanities.
How do we get people involved in 3D printing? Throw a grant at them. [Ah to be in an organisation where a few thousand dollars is spare change. 🙂 ]
Research Tool Speed Dating: set up tools on workstations around the room and rotate researchers around the room – if they like it they can set up a second ‘date’ ie training.
HackyHour: come to a bar and people can come, have a drink, ask questions.
Research Bazaar: pulled 19 courses together over a 3-day event.
Different people engage in different ways so having all these methods is really important.
Why would a university want to invest/engage in something like this? [Why wouldn’t it?!] Often IT shops are enterprise-focused, not researcher-focused. Take a user-driven approach.
Asked researchers to cite them if skills help produce articles, and 2 articles have been published citing ResBaz (Research Bazaar). Much social media engagement.
ResBaz going international – Mozilla Science taking over the community. 1st week of Feb next year if you want to do it at your university.
- open and collaborative platforms
- some fanatical community engagement
Introducing the ResBaz Cookbook (in development)