As you can see, we got out all our spotlights to examine a diversity of topics, people and locations for this issue of Insights. One of those topics is the impact of the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, both on higher education and scholarly publishing. Jacob Wilcock and Andrew Miller have provided us with an insightful and balanced summary of the issues and ask if a catastrophe for academia may be an opportunity for publishers.
We also spotlight four articles which explore aspects of user experience and library discovery. Leo Appleton calls on us to get physical (and digital). User experience (UX) is something of a buzz phrase, but Leo clearly explains how ethnographic methods enable librarians to look at their services afresh wholly from a user perspective. Donna Lanclos also talks about how ethnographic methods can help us tackle ‘the mess of academia’. She questions the value of the ‘one-stop shop’ solutions to discovery, pointing out we need to recognize the effectiveness of user practices which are spread across multiple tools and multiple places. We love the cognitive maps she has used in this article. Do take a look! Jeff Woods, Elizabeth Gillespie and Catherine McManamon from the University of Liverpool undertook a usability study to understand how library users were engaging with their resource discovery platform. Perhaps not surprisingly, they found that although 85% of users did make use of the discovery platform to some degree, ‘Google was the most popular choice’. Sarah Pittaway is engaging with students as partners at the University of Worcester to evaluate, develop and deliver their library services. One of the outputs of her project is Reffie the Raptor – have a look at the article and see whether you can spot him in our ‘#shelfies with Reffie’ photograph!
Jisc has turned its attention to the fundamental question of whether the institution as creator will help students by providing more affordable and relevant e-textbooks. In March we published an in-depth article by Frank Rennie, who explained how the University of the Highlands and Islands together with Napier University, as recipients of funding from this project, created two e-textbooks. In this issue, Vivien Ward provides a broader perspective, detailing the project’s findings from across all four of the institutions that participated by producing e-books specifically designed to meet the needs of their students.
Deserving of limelight are two initiatives doing great and pragmatic work in tackling problems in scholarly communications. One of these, the Transfer Code of Practice, began under the auspices of UKSG, but is now the responsibility of NISO. Elizabeth Winter’s update reminds us of the benefits of the Code and tells us about the development of the Transfer Alerting Service. With so many publications, how can authors know if a particular journal can be trusted? Helen Dobson explains how Think.Check.Submit. is helping them choose trusted journals for their research. On the subject of untrustworthy journals, Regina Romano Reynolds discusses the predatory publishing phenomenon and its consequences.
Our interviews and features about people often have us travelling far and wide, but in this issue our focus is closer to home. We interviewed Sarah Bull, the new Executive Director of UKSG, about her vision and plans for the future of the organization. We are also celebrating the life of Professor Jack Meadows, who died on 18 July 2016. He was one of the world’s leading information scientists and a former member of the Serials (predecessor to Insights) editorial board.
Finally, we are travelling, virtually at least, to Myanmar, to hear from Myat Sann Nyein. Many of you may have caught her lightning talk at this year’s conference. In this article she is able to tell us more about the amazing journey that she and her colleagues have taken from the dark days before 2011, when all information in the country was cut off, to the present day, when access to information and technology through libraries is transforming the lives of librarians and academic outputs.
Would you like to put your project or case study under the Insights spotlight? We very much welcome your articles about the innovative and transformative work being undertaken by librarians, publishers and vendors, so do get in touch with us.
Lorraine and Steve