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OU Library Community: The Research Support Team

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Based within Library Services, the Open University Research Support Team supports all of the research students that are currently registered across the University’s four faculties. 

The Research Support team provide research students with access to and support for a number of specialist systems that enable researchers to easily manage their research data, to publish their results and to maintain their public profile - including ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID - a system that provides unique identifiers for researchers) and ORDO (Open Research Data Online - the Open University's research data repository). Alongside providing this ‘behind the scenes’ support, the team engage in a plenty of face to face training and consultation. As research Support Librarian David says:  “One thing that I love about working in Research Support is the opportunity to interact with our research students in person, through Research Management Groups, forums and training events. I find the face to face interaction invaluable.”

There are currently around 900 research students registered with the OU – a mix of full time students based here on campus in Milton Keynes and part time students based across the UK and beyond, so part of the work David does is to find ways to connect with those students who are based elsewhere in the UK and across the world. 

“Interacting with our students through informal forums and training events enables us to really get to know our research students and what they want from the library, so that we can better develop our support of them.” David says. “And they are really fun to do! We held our first ever forum with our research students back in January. We invited research students to take part in activities and exercises based on themes that we know they want to know more about. For example, most students engage in literature searching activities during their research, so we built some exercises based around that theme.”

Research Management Groups are more formal and are held on campus here in Milton Keynes, and are attended by student representatives and academics. “These are really good forums for us to obtain feedback from our research students: both specific to the OU and general insights into research students.” David says. “For example, it’s really good to know how our students are feeling about Brexit, or how the recent terror attacks have impacted them.”

Getting to know our students personally gives the Research Support Team a good insight into their personal feelings about the future and their career, as well as issues not related to their research activities, for example relocating their families to be nearer to campus, or even moving to the UK. “The insights that are gained through this interaction are not always positive,” says David. “But it brings opportunities to develop the help and support that we offer our research students.”

You can learn more about the services that the Library offers researchers and research students on the library website and they post regular updates and news items to The Orb – the OU Library Services’ research support blog 

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