Librarian and Information Specialist: Supporting knowledge synthesis research projects across campus

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Much of the support librarians provide in an academic and research environment is through consultations, instructional workshops and providing online learning tools. They educate and guide scholars and researchers to build the systematic searching skills required to undertake their own projects. 

As time allows, however, they can also take a more active role in research as a collaborator on a research team, often fulfilling the role of Information Specialist.  

Jackie Stapleton, liaison librarian, recently had the opportunity to take on such a role for a research team led by Dr. Laura Middleton and Dr. Carrie Ann McAiney, in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and School of Public Health Science, respectively.  

The project, "Beyond Dementia Prevention: Understanding Impact and Knowledge Gaps related to Lifestyle Interventions for People with Dementia,” was recently awarded a $100,000 Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) Knowledge Synthesis and Mobilization Grant. 

As a librarian, Stapleton has deep knowledge of various research databases, search functionalities, and strategies for developing the terminology which will yield the most relevant research. These are valuable skills which an information specialist brings to the review project. 

In her role, Stapleton is responsible for working with other members of the team to develop and implement a search methodology, including database searching, supplemental search techniques and grey literature. “Developing a strong, comprehensive search methodology is vital to ensuring that the research team’s conclusions are based in the best available evidence that is most relevant to the research question being asked,” says Stapleton.  

Not only does the research team benefit from having an expert in navigating the complex information landscape on the project, but Stapleton is able to gain further experience in fulfilling the role of Information Specialist. The ripple of this partnership will be felt across campus as future research teams benefit from expertise that has been honed with hands on experience. 

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