Much scientific work can be greatly aided by technology, helping to improve and streamline many of the processes involved. But researchers and university faculty may be unaware of these advancements, work on legacy systems that require updating to take advantage of technology advancements, or are comfortable with their traditional methods. Libraries often have the technologies to facilitate research — but spreading the knowledge to researchers and educators requires close collaboration, and publishers can help.
Why science is slow
One would think researchers in an academic setting would be on top of the latest tools and technologies to facilitate distributing their research to their peers and the public. But that’s not always the case. Change can occur slowly in academic research due to lack of awareness, a preference for the familiar, or a gap in skills required to adopt new technologies.
How libraries are responding
Libraries are beginning to understand the role they play in the advancement (or lack thereof) of scientific discovery and spread. They understand how technology can build bridges to knowledge. They are thinking about ways to engage with faculty and make the most of the digital environment that connects them.
For example, libraries are experimenting with using virtual reality technologies, chatbots, and voice search as ways to reach faculty and teach them about new tools and methods. One start-up called Lean Library lets librarians provide their services directly via a user’s web browser. Another example of libraries helping to facilitate scientific advancement is the collaboration between the National Library of Norway and the library at the University of Stanford. These libraries are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to better catalog their collections. This will enable easier discovery and access to the latest research.
How publishers can help
Accessibility and access management are two ways publishers can help the flow of scientific knowledge. To increase accessibility, publishers are working together to create sharing and operability standards. They are using advanced technologies such as neural networking to analyze and tag images for accessibility, and they are using AI to help with quality control and cataloging.
Access management is an important way publishers can work together. Researchers want seamless access to research, and research funding agencies want to ensure that taxpayer-funded research is accessible by those taxpayers. Publishers are also using identifiers such as ORCID iDs and CrossRef to connect research with its authors. This information, collected during the article submission process, is incorporated into the article’s metadata to help researchers find it.
Through communication and collaboration, libraries and publishers can work together toward solutions to facilitate easy access to research and implement technologies to enable researchers and academics to keep up with the latest methods and tools.