What is it about?

Our objective was to examine existing postgraduate support, develop aspirational strategies, and implement a revised Library postgraduate programme. We used a mixed methods research methodology to collect data from students, supervisors, and other stakeholders at the University of Otago. Quantitative data was collected from various sources including, LibAnalytics, bespoke surveys created with Qualtrics, and the Quality Advancement Unit (QAU) Student Opinion Survey. Qualitative data was collected from bespoke surveys created with Qualtrics, interviews, focus groups, and structured discussions. This article specifically addresses our findings from postgraduate student survey and focus group data. Note that if you do not have a subscription to this journal you can still read the author accepted manuscript in OUR Archive: https://ourarchive.otago.ac.nz/handle/10523/9545

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Why is it important?

As stated in the article abstract "Before (re)developing postgraduate programs, libraries can gain valuable insights and test assumptions by surveying students." There were many assumptions we tested and found to be incorrect. The whole exercise of engaging with students, staff, and other stakeholders was immense and, in terms of scale, a first for our Library. However, we have made better decisions about our postgraduate support service redevelopment as a result. We encourage other libraries to do the same.


Librarians are being asked to support the research process, not just the products. Completing a large scale research project like this has increased the capabilities of the authors and supported their confidence in being able to engage with researchers. For some authors it was the first time applying for ethical consent, creating research data management plans, working with tools such as NVivo and Qualtrics, and submitting an article for publishing. It cannot be understated that this experience has helped all of us grow as professionals. In countries where librarians are not members of faculty, and do not conduct research of this scale, making opportunities for this type of endeavor can be difficult. The University of Otago Library Information Services manager and University Librarian need to be commended for providing that opportunity for us.

Shiobhan Smith
University of Otago

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Listening and learning: myths and misperceptions about postgraduate students and library support, Reference Services Review, August 2019, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/rsr-03-2019-0019.
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