The Perceptions of Liaison Librarians, at a New Zealand Academic Institution, on the Role of Researchers in the Electronic Journal Environment
The objective of this project was to examine how liaison librarians perceive the role of the academic researcher in the electronic journal environment. An interview process was undertaken with twelve liaison librarians from the Arts, Business and General Science disciplines, at a New Zealand tertiary institution, to elicit their views in this regard. Interviewees were questioned on the researcher/liaison librarian relationship in terms of their interaction involving direct and indirect forms of communication, on the topic of electronic journal publications. The direct forms of communication examined in this study, included e-mail, phone interviews and face-to-face interactions. The material placed on the Library subject resource web pages, concerning electronic journal publications, encapsulated the indirect method of communication between liaison librarian and researcher. This study was conceptualized with Anthony Giddens' "Structuration Theory" as a contextual basis. Continuous access and search methodologies were discovered to be the predominant themes between liaison librarians and researchers engaged in direct communication, on the topic of electronic publication. Access to available information found in electronic journals proved to be the most critical factor for researchers engaged in information retrieval and dissemination. Search enquiries amongst researchers were generally found to be more about ratification of their methodologies rather than a didactic engagement on how to carry out a particular search. Though these themes were found to be universal across the disciplines, variances between the faculties examined and between academic departments within their respective faculties were discovered. Input from researchers, concerning information on issues surrounding electronic journal publication, which is published on library subject resource pages has been found to be negligible. Although some academic departments do have certain researchers who do engage in the publication of these pages, they are situated in a distinct minority. Information on bibliometric measurement, copyright, and licensing are placed on these pages predominantly on the initiative of the liaison librarians examined. Issues surrounding scholarly communication, bibliometric measurement, open access platforms and institutional repositories have been found to be a part of the liaison librarian/researcher interaction, in this study. Whilst researchers do engage in these topics on a collegial level, they are also engaging with liaison librarians to better educate themselves in these matters. The principal influence on researchers, asking about these topics, is Performance Based Research Funding (PBRF), and most lines of questioning involve this facet of academic research. It can be said that liaison librarians believe that researchers play an active role in their relationship with the electronic publication environment. The role of the liaison librarian can be seen increasingly as that of facilitator rather than educator and this role is readily accepted by researchers. This study involved only a small research population, at one New Zealand tertiary institution and as such the findings cannot be regarded as universal to all researchers. In addition to this, the findings are based on the perceptions of liaison librarians and not researchers and although these perceptions offer a useful and unique view, it cannot be described as definitive. However this study can be utilized as a starting point for further research that examines both the views of researchers and the study of other academic institutions.