Published on:

22nd Oct 2023

(Bonus) From Lay Summaries to Impactful Engagement: Uncovering the Potential of the Collaborative Library

πŸ” The Collaborative Library where we can all collaborate to share knowledge

πŸŽ™οΈ Are you passionate about open and impactful research? Looking for a

platform that connects researchers, students, and the broader audience? The look

no further!

πŸ“’ Nick Sheppard and Ged Hall, had the privilege of speaking with Anja

Harrison, the Chief Executive of the Collaborative Library, on our latest

episode of Research Culture Uncovered podcast. The Collaborative Library

is revolutionising research communication and opening doors for students

and researchers to publish their lay summaries, making academic knowledge

accessible to all.

πŸš€ Here are three key takeaways from our conversation:

1. Bridging the gap: The Collaborative Library aims to bridge the gap between existing research networks and efforts. They provide a dynamic hub where researchers can engage with the broader community and expand their impact network. Imagine connecting with like-minded individuals globally who are passionate about your research!

2. Empowering students: The Collaborative Library offers an innovative approach to skills development and assessment by encouraging students to produce lay summaries as a part of their coursework. By harnessing their creativity and skills, students contribute valuable content to the platform while gaining hands-on experience in science communication. Let's elevate student work to new heights!

3. Inclusivity and Open Practice: The platform promotes inclusivity, embracing diverse perspectives and co-producing research. Lay summaries can be submitted in various formats, including written, audio, and video. This immersive experience not only encourages the exploration of complex scientific concepts but also combines science with human artistic expression.

Let's make research accessible to all!

πŸ”— If you are interested in getting involved, sharing your thoughts, or becoming part of the Collaborative Library's working group, don't hesitate to reach out and take a look at the website:

Other links mentioned in the episode were:

United Kingdom Council of Open Research and Repositories

UK Reproducibility Network

All of our episodes can be accessed via the following playlists: 

Follow us on twitter: @ResDevLeeds (new episodes are announced here), @OpenResLeeds, @ResCultureLeeds  

Connect to us on LinkedIn: @ResearchUncoveredPodcast (new episodes are announced here) 

Leeds Research Culture links: 

If you would like to contribute to a podcast episode get in touch:


Welcome to the Research Culture Uncovered podcast, where in every episode we explore what is research culture and what should it be. You'll hear thoughts and opinions from a range of contributors to help you change research culture into what you want it to be.


So hi, this is Nick Sheppard, I'm Open Research Advisor at the University of Leeds.


And this is

Ged Hall, and I'm an Academic Development Consultant at Leeds. You're joining both of us for a bonus episode in our Research Culture Uncovered podcast. So far, our podcast has used seasons of around eight episodes looking at different topics, with


Also, mine was season three.

Um, I was just checking back actually. So that originally went out between February and April at the beginning of the year and focuses on open research. So that's covered topics, including open practice in different disciplines. So that was discussing our open research case study project. I talked to Dr. Maddi Pownall, um, about open research in the curriculum. So that's talking about some of her work, um, trying to embed open research training in the curriculum, uh, the undergraduate curriculum. I spoke with Hugh Shanahan, Professor of Open Science at Royal Holloway about Fair data and first class research objects.

So that's, um, beyond, you know, the traditional peer reviewed journal article, Dr. Alex Freeman about the new Octopus open research platform. So yeah, lots of interesting conversations. Wikimedia in the open knowledge revolution was another with Dr. Martin Porter. So yeah, check those out if you're interested.


And my season was number five, which focused on research impact, uh, and some of the topics I covered included current and future effects of research impact on research culture, stuff around co-production and how to do that well. Um, And how research impact culture is developing in New Zealand, uh, and, and a lot of other topics.

And, uh, we both put our playlists. So if you, you're interested in either or both of those, the playlist for those seasons are in the show notes. But the reason this is a bonus episode is because it really combines our two themes. And so we're delighted to be talking to Dr. Anja Harrison. Anya is currently a senior teaching fellow at King's College, London.

But really the reason we are talking to her today is that she's also chief executive officer of the Collaborative Library, which is an online platform dedicated to bringing scientific knowledge to everyone, providing a space for people to share lay summaries of research articles, Anja, welcome to the Research Culture Uncovered podcast.


Hi, I'm very glad to be here. Thanks for having me. Uh, and also tiny update. I've actually been promoted to programme lead of applied neuroscience, just like a couple of days ago.




Oh, fantastic. Well, I'll have to go on your LinkedIn and, and, and share that as a, as a delighted to tell everybody.

Yeah, excellent. Well, that's good news. That's good news. So Anja, as the collaborative library is a startup, um, and, and you're the Chief Executive, um, we're going to do this as almost an elevator pitch as if you were kind of looking for investment for a lot from all our listeners out there. So can you tell them what is the Collaborative Library?

What's it all about?


Okay, let's see how good my elevator pitch is these days. So basically, science has a bit of a reputation. It's very complex and quite reserved for a select few. But what if there was a place where scientific knowledge was broken down into quite understandable, accessible language for everyone?

This effectively is the Collaborative Library. So it's an innovative online platform, which is designed to bridge a gap, and that is between scientific research and the wider public, we're really on a mission, uh, to democratise science by inviting researchers, clinicians, service users, and students who I believe are a greatly untapped resource when it comes to generating research outputs.

And we want them to contribute. video, audio, and infographic, as well as written lay summaries of research articles. And by embracing quite a community driven approach, we're dismantling barriers to understanding and enabling collaboration, and we're also hoping to reshape the way that we engage with science, so anyone can learn, connect, and contribute to this platform.

And whether people are browsing accessible lay summaries, or creating their own, or even just giving us feedback to optimize our platform, they're really helping us make science engaging and approachable.


Brilliant. So you, you want real collaboration going on, hence the, hence the name. So I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about how you manage the kind of quality control process there with it being so democratised.


Yeah, that, that's a very, uh, important aspect that we spend a lot of time agonising over, uh, in terms of optimising it. So firstly, we only allow publication of summaries of. peer reviewed scientific research. That's the first layer. But then the second layer, which is a bit more complex, perhaps, is that it's only when an organisation, and that could be a charity, a university, scientific society, or healthcare trust, or similar, only when they have signed up as a participating organisation, that then people affiliated with this organisation can actually contribute lay summaries.

And there's also different levels of contributors. So, for instance, students who might be completing lay summaries as part of an assessment, um, but they do not have any, um, professional qualification, they would be classified as what we call, uh, non professional contributors, and they can only upload, but not publish lay summaries.

So, these users would need to team up with a qualified person, so a professional contributor or, uh, who we could, uh, who we would basically refer to as a vetting professional, and they can then publish the uploaded, um, lay summaries once they're happy with the content. Um, both authors will then have the name and their profiles attached to the, uh, summary, so there's a, there's a level of making sure that we can track back where the information came from, uh, and the community can also request a review if they, for instance, think the summary needs to be reworked or there is a problem.


Great. I'll, I'll hand over to Nick cause I know he's, he wants to get in on the open research side.


Yeah. Well, obviously, um, no, that's really interesting. Thanks, Anja. And, um, having spoken to you a bit before and learnt a little bit about the Collaborative Library and in, in the context of my role, as, as we've been saying, it's, uh, Ged and I are interested in collaborating together as well, you know, in terms of how our different areas overlap in terms of impact and openness being being part of that.

So I suppose, I just wonder if you could say a little bit about how the Collaborative Library relates to perhaps the broader landscape of open research and open it education, you know, open practice more, more, more generally.


Yeah, so open research aims to obviously make research outputs such as articles, data, methodologies, um, more openly available to the public.

And the Collaborative Library really contributes to the open research movement by well, providing a platform in the first instance. So where research findings are not only accessible to experts, but also translated into summaries that are quite understandable and useful across discipline and also to a broader audience.

Um, in terms of open education, uh, this, the key element of that is obviously making educational resources and materials freely available to learners, um, and ideally globally that, and that's exactly what we do. So we, we contribute to open education by. effectively offering not just the, the summaries of research articles, but also other educational materials around research and also the publication process.

So, uh, for instance, resources explaining the quality of research studies, um, and so on and so forth. And these summaries can be valuable resources for educators, uh, students. and also people that are self learners who just want to understand the complex scientific concepts without really having to navigate all the jargon, which we know is quite a big problem.

Um, at this point, it's also worth mentioning that the platform is free, so that kind of like also falls neatly within the open education definition here. Um, the last point you mentioned was open practice, wasn't it? And as I understand it, open practice refers to sort of sharing and collaborative development of resources and methods among professionals.

in, in various fields. And I think the Collaborative Library kind of pretty much embodies that by fostering collaboration amongst researchers, clinicians, uh, service users, and the general public. We're kind of a neat little nexus where everyone can potentially get involved. So you can suggest edits, you can provide feedback on lay summaries and, and The idea in the longer run is to create like this really collaborative space where knowledge is refined through a collective effort.

So the emphasis on is on community driven content creation and that obviously promotes open practices of collaboration, well, transparency. knowledge sharing, all those different elements, um, we're also partnering up with a wide network of other organizations. So for instance, the Knowledge Equity Network, for example, um, and, and, uh, those organisations that we do partner up with, they share the same values to create more aware awareness of open practice and all relevant networks in this area.

Um, the one thing that I have found when setting up links and talking to different people and even academics is that there is very little knowledge of the, um, sort of, of all the different, uh, great open access platforms that there are available. And by partnering up, we also hope to increase their visibility and use.

So in essence, we're kind of like trying to bridge a bit of a gap, uh, between these interconnected areas. So promoting accessible research dissemination, uh, inclusivity on an educational basis, and then collaborative sharing.


Okay, great. Thanks. So then everything will be openly licensed? Yeah. Under Creative Commons, for example?


Yes. Correct.


Yeah. And thank you for mentioning the Knowledge Equity Network. If listeners aren't aware of the Knowledge Equity Network, which we have already established a partnership with the Collaborative Library. And it's an initiative out of the University of Leeds looking at increasing collaboration across higher education so perhaps we can put something about that in the show notes as well.

The other thing that I'm really interested in, which you've already alluded to, I think, is co-production and collaboration. I mean, as important aspects of open. Uh, research and open, open practice, uh, I know Ged's done some work on, um, some of your podcasts have looked explicitly at co-production, haven't they Ged?

I was actually just listening to, um, your podcast with Gehan Selim, am I saying her name right? Um, in the car on the way to um, and you talk about in that a little bit about, um. visit interchanging concepts of what, um, you know, co-production even means and collaboration. Um, I don't know, sorry, Ged, do you want to mention co-production from your perspective?


Yeah. Yeah. Gehan was, uh, Gehan was saying it's, uh, it's still, uh, It's still a term that's experimental, you know, it's, it's still something that's, that's really evolving and, and really there's no, um, there's no template that you can just, you know, pick up and apply into your research practice. So, so that was a, that was an interesting thing out of her practice.

And, and then I spoke to Bryony Thomas, uh, about her specific way of applying co-production in a project that, uh, that, uh, that she was leading. So yeah, this, uh, we have a. We have some content on co-production. So dipping into that, if you're interested.


But again, you know, I suppose, again, Wikimedia, Wikipedia

is arguably is very collaborative as well. So you've already alluded to this, I think, have you, know if you. perhaps expand a little bit on the co-production aspects of the Collaborative Library.


Yeah, gladly. Um, everyone that's ever worked with me will probably say that I'm a big fan of co-production. Uh, that's probably what got me my programme lead role, actually, because I, I'm doing a lot of co-production with my students, uh, in my, in my day job, so to speak.

But, um, as far as the Collaborative Library is concerned, um, I mean, obviously it's about involving all the stakeholders and what we're trying to do here, which is creation of knowledge and research outputs ultimately right so researchers practitioners and other stakeholders, such as experts by experience students and so on and so forth.

And I think it recognises that the diverse perspectives. and the expertise that comes from those different perspectives. It's really important to create comprehensive and relevant, um, outcomes. Um, in open research, co-production goes beyond the traditional academia and obviously involves a much broader community to ensure the research that is done is relevant, accessible, and also creates the impact.

So within the Collaborative Library, I get, I guess, co-production is what we're all about. So we're really inviting everyone to contribute to lay summaries of research articles. And we also. recognise and we even want to, like, play special focus on diverse perspectives being really essential for making, uh, scientific knowledge accessible.

Um, and we're aligning everything that we do with the open practice principles of inclusivity and accessibility, uh, even at this early stage. So contributors and readers alike can really suggest edits, uh, they can all provide feedback on summaries. Uh, there's a collaborative editing process that refines the content and kind of.

mirrors this open practice, uh, element where professionals openly share and refine resources with an emphasis on the community engagement and the collaboration. But the co-production aspect of the collaborative library extends beyond the content it hosts. because it also includes how the, the, the platform itself is run.

So we think it's quite important to involve a diverse working group in the design and development and maintenance of a platform, because only if we involve loads of people from different walks of life and with different backgrounds in terms of education and knowledge about science or lack thereof, uh, quite frankly, I think.

That will be important to create, uh, and help evolve the platform. So we pretty much embody the principles of co-production. Um, we, we think this is not only going to enhance the functionality, but also we'll create a space where all the stakeholders. are supposed to feel empowered and engaged and part of a larger effort.


Okay, great, thanks. I'm just quite reminded of something you've said before that I'm not sure if you've referred to directly, but you talked then a little bit about, um, you know, obviously collaborating with various different stakeholders, but students. Is there some work around assessment as well and how it relates to




assessment with students, which I'm not sure if we'd, if you'd mentioned that previously.

I'm sorry. And whether you


No, I've not, I've not mentioned it previously, but I think one of the key things that I think is, is at the moment, not really being catered to fantastically well is what to do with students assessments, right? So you have students that put a lot of effort into putting together assessments that are then being graded, taking up a lot of staff time.

Um, but that's not really very often going anywhere. So what we say is, why don't we actually use lay summaries as an assessment process? Um, so effectively, we at the Collaborative Library would provide, uh, assessment briefs, rubrics, so making it really easy for, for universities wanting to adopt the strategy.

Uh, then the, um, students produce the lay summaries as part of their assessment alongside with quality checklists. Uh, and then, um, the best ones could get published. So that's a really neat way of harnessing students work, uh, and their creativity, which we quite frankly know how, uh, talented many students are these days with video, audio, editing, and those types of things in a bit of a TikTok generation, uh, kind of way.

And also it means that, um, course leads and researchers could kind of, like, outsource the creation of valuable impact. generating, uh, lay summaries to, um, uh, students working, uh, on their assessments. So that is one way in which we're hoping to kind of like generate a, um, uh, a constant stream, uh, an influx of lay summaries in the longer run.



Thanks. Yeah. I was just really interested in that from a sort of open education perspective, really, and it sort of aligns with some of the things we've been thinking about with Wikipedia as well. So there's a lot of work around sort of students actually producing writing Wikipedia articles, for example, for assessment, that kind of thing.

Anyway, thank you Anja. I'll hand over, I think, for the next question to Ged.


Yeah, thanks, Nick. And thanks, Anja. It's been really interesting. Now, coming back, coming, focusing in on kind of research impacts. I'm just interested in how the tool might help with that. So I'm kind of thinking, um, if there's a, if there's a researcher involved in, in, in some, in some work, uh, one of your, uh, partner organizations, how might they, I guess, kind of use the platform?

Is there a way of using the platform in terms of knowing who might have accessed the lay summary and for what purpose? So for kind of like the evidence of, of impact in a sense


Yeah, so first of all, I think it's quite important to mention that obviously the Collaborative Library is a pretty new platform and is currently self funded.

So, despite the recent launch, I think we've seen remarkable progress in a very short span of time regarding sort of getting attention and support from quite a growing audience. We can help. generate evidence to demonstrate the impact of, of, of researchers work, how it's being shared, where it's being viewed.

And at the moment we have sort of a fairly, um, good, but basic suite of analytics available. However, we're working on creating a more bespoke set, uh, which we will develop with the, uh, higher education institutions, partnering up with impact tracking software providers going forwards. So, I mean, everyone will be aware that research impact is quite the complex topic.

Uh, and we know how important it's going to be for the next REF, uh, to become more and more, uh, able to actually demonstrate it. So that is something that we're really focusing on. And our future impact suite will in all likelihood feature many things. Um, one of the key areas of impact that we have our eye on is capacity building and knowledge exchange.

So viewing summaries will be contributing to obviously skills development, uh, of an audience. Then instrumental and conceptual impact is, uh, also something that we're looking at. So engagement, sharing data from the Collaborative Library will give us a bit of an insight, uh, into how. research is contributing to reframing debates on, on things like policy issues and so on and so forth.

And that could be evidenced through discussions or feedback generated by lay summaries that have been published via our platform. Um, in, in line with what I think we've discussed earlier, we can also certainly contribute to collaborative research impact. So, As I said, it kind of, we embrace the co-production model and this sort of collaborative work aligns really quite neatly with the ESRC's emphasis on co-productive research as well.

Um, establishing networks and relationships I think is also quite key and we try to achieve that in the long run. So, lay summarized research will be contributing to growth of networks and relationships, and we could, for instance, track these types of things through, um, looking at, um, where people are connected, followers, interactions on the platform that can, uh, indicate an expansion of, of, of an impact network, and also academic impact, um, is something that we, uh, would like to help generate.

So metrics on how lay summaries are contributing to shift and understanding across disciplines. Um, so this includes tracking how often lay summary content is accessed by whom and how many readers engage with it and whether it sparks discussion or further exploration at other places. So for instance, we, um, as mentioned and, and, and asked about earlier, uh, all our, um, content comes with an open license.

So when others then build on it, they can then sort of make sure that they give us the attributions and then we can track it across the internet. Um, so that's all I can think of for now, but in summary, we're basically developing the metrics related to engagement and sharing and discussions and collaborative interactions on the platform and can then collectively provide a bit of a more comprehensive picture as time passes of how the research is contributing to the different levels of impact.

However, naturally we will need organisations like, for instance, the University of Leeds or King's College London and so on and so forth, uh, to commit to signing up and start sharing the students amazing work before we can move forward with any of this.


Yeah, sure. Yeah. I mean, that's really important in terms of all of these platforms are great, but if usage doesn't happen, then the primary purpose disappears, doesn't it?

I was interested, uh, in kind of the next question in terms of thinking about all those different things. tools, just kind of disseminational tools and platforms that are available to people and researchers. So, for instance, kind of writing their own policy briefs and, uh, and I know the university, you know, our own university has a, um, has a database of policy briefs that, that, uh, that we, that we support.

And then there's places like The Conversation and the more traditional. Um, social media platforms, Twitter or X or whatever it's now called, et cetera, et cetera. And then there's obviously on the open research side of things as the pre print servers, Nick mentioned Octopus and I think ScienceOpen as well earlier on.

So I was interested in terms of how the Collaborative Library fits into this kind of, um, what feels like quite a large and crowded landscape.


Yeah, absolutely. I guess we have a lot of what you might call unique selling points, uh, if, if you compare it to other platforms. I mean, first of all, we're community driven with a, with a real focus on celebrating diversity and kind of really fostering that element.

Um, secondly, uh, and we've mentioned it already briefly, we're offering students the possibility to produce valuable research outputs. So many universities, as I said, already asked students to produce lay summaries and assessments. However, Those don't get published and then anyone ever involved in running a large university programmes knows how much time it takes grading these.

And to make it easy, obviously, we would be like offering the whole assessment pack alongside as well. So this would mean that by only just tweaking their assessment processes ever so slightly, universities could start publishing hundreds of internally controlled and vetted lay summaries. without really generating lots of additional work, which is something that really separates us from other platforms and is quite neatly in line with the recent educational trends in the assessment sort of literature, which is authenticity and making sure that things are really inclusive as well.

Because That would also include offering different types of options for students so they could be producing lay summaries in written, audio or video format. And following on from this point, um, we actually encourage multimedia summaries, so not just written lay summaries, which is something that is kind of predominant at the moment still.

Um, we also don't just store the summaries without any context, which is something that we have seen on other platforms, but instead we provide materials that will help users understand the quality of the summarised studies with lay checklists, something that we deem is quite important in light of all the misinformation out there online.

Um, and we're also actively disseminating the summaries on our YouTube channel and pretty much every other social media outlet you can think of, uh, to make it more discoverable and, and, and increase the impact. Um, and I guess what's important to say is that we're not really trying to replace any of the other existing.

platforms or duplicate work in that sense, but instead bridge a gap and create a bit of a hub or like a one stop shop, if you will, uh, to improve connection between the different existing networks and other efforts. Um, and, and we're working on integrating our platform with all the existing services, such as impact trackers.

I think I mentioned open access and preprint repositories were on, uh, on the ball. right there right now. And, um, obviously the platform is completely free of charge, which is also something that isn't like every platform. So we're kind of trying to give back to contributors, um, in the way of rewards as well in the longer run, which hopefully double win.

So that's kind of how we're a bit separate, I guess.


That's great. Yeah. It's, it's great that you're thinking about kind of reducing that burden. I mean, you're, you're in the system as well as providing a platform to, to people in the academic system. So, you know, the pressures everybody is under. Yeah. Nick, Nick, you want to come in with us with something?


I just wondered, sorry to interrupt, but, um, you've alluded a couple of times only to the fact that it's free of charge. I don't know if you want to just say a little bit of, about how, how it's funded, um, because that might sound a little bit too good to be true to, uh, to our listeners.


Yeah, fair enough. So in the first instance, the, the, the webpage and everything is kind of a bit homemade.

So we, we have essentially created the space ourselves and it's, it's now running with our web team on a, on a, on a basis that we can just sustainably carry on until the big sort of like, uh, influx of lay summaries then ultimately starts. We're also in the process, um, of applying for some funding, obviously at some point that will, um, uh, that will be made.

public as well, but we're currently working on that. The main key business model this platform will adopt is a YouTube model. So all the audio and video lay summaries will be hosted on our channel. So if you listen to this and feel, uh, charitable, then perhaps subscribe, because that would bring our, uh, uh, audience up and would mean that we can, uh, work towards, uh, making sure that we can, uh, fund and give back to, uh, the people contributing to our platform in the longer run.

We also have some other income screen, uh, income streams, such as like, um, having some ads, uh, of like, for instance, con uh, content creation, supporting software and those types of things on the side strip on our webpage, but these are all hand selected and kind of like very much in line with what we're trying to do.

Um, and that way in the longer run. we'll be able to kind of, um, continue. The website has been very neatly designed, um, with a few, uh, clever ways of making sure that we can keep it running for a very long time before we really need to upgrade it. So I'm very confident that we'll be able to manage that.


That's great. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for coming in with that, uh, that question, Nick. And, um, Kind of final one for me in terms of, um, in terms of thinking about this, you probably, you know, you, this, you are a startup, you're trying to generate, uh, usage and, and universities signing up with you to kind of use it with the, uh, with Students, researchers, people at all levels of the institution.

So I'm just interested in terms of the cultural barriers you've faced in trying to kind of pitch into the sector in terms of the, hey, hey, I'm here and I'm going to be useful for you. So, uh, is there anything that you've noticed that, uh, that have really kind of. you've needed to kind of argue with and kind of get around?


Oh, yes. Uh, it's interesting because I think I came in rather naively thinking, well, this is free and we're trying to do this good thing and everyone surely will be interested. But, um, as Nick rightly pointed out, I think the fact that it offers a free access to something leads to quite a bit of... So, well, potential suspicions around the quality or perhaps the intentions of the platform.

So some people may wonder how can a free platform provide something that's valuable and also maintain the high standards and, and I guess university. Universities and academic institutions often seek endorsement from regulatory bodies or internal improvement before adopting new platforms, right? So we're working on that with great success currently, but the barrier lies in the need to demonstrate the positive impact and benefits before we can gain support from them.

Which is a bit of a hard one to do without the initial buy in, if you see what I mean. Um, another point is. Maybe more relevant to some disciplines than others, but the research culture has traditionally focused on individual achievements and specialised expertise, so embracing a bit more of a quite a bit more of a collaborative approach to knowledge sharing as we encourage it might also require a bit of a cultural shift, which we know can sometimes be a bit difficult.

And also in academia, recognition also often comes through the traditional metrics, so citations, impact factor, and these types of things. And new platforms like ours obviously need a bit of time to grow and might not immediately neatly fit into these metrics, causing a bit of hesitation amongst researchers especially, who have very limited time and are already probably, quite frankly, overwhelmed with the amount of different platforms there are available.

But as we've already discussed, I think researchers and stakeholders often have very limited time and resources, so. engaging with new platforms might quite frankly be seen as an additional burden. So that's, that's why we're currently producing some case studies, um, at, at King's College, uh, but also at Kingston to demonstrate, uh, the benefits.

Um, one thing that I think I would like to kind of shoehorn in here a bit is that we know also universities are quite curious about the potential of, of AI generated lay summaries, uh, of research articles, um, and, and why While we know that AI has the capability to generate it and it's probably going to get better over time, I think it's important to emphasise the value of platforms like ours, um, which goes beyond simple automation.

I mean, it doesn't mean that we will never have any plans to kind of like work with AI in a more blended way. I think it's, it's important to kind of say it's not just about having the repository sitting there and ready and waiting for people to look at, but it's, it's about the community driven educational effort here.

So it's a tool aiming to bring together science and I guess human artistic expression. I mean, for instance, like at King's, when I did my, um, the, the case study trial, uh, there were a couple of videos that were submitted that were so excellent. That was like quite gutted that we couldn't publish them straight away.

So I think. It serves as a bit of a space where researchers and the public and practitioners and students and all these different stakeholders can engage with research findings, and it goes beyond the generation of the summary as an output. It involves understanding, discussing, refining something, and anyone who's ever tried to explain something quite complex in easy terms will agree how much of a difficult thing it can be.

So it's kind of the human touch that we hope will ensure that they're not only understandable lay summaries, but also That we can maintain the integrity of research and that they represent and that obviously also comes with greater accountability. Um, I actually also think that the significance of the Collaborative Library also extends.

to a role of educating kind of the next generation of researchers, because it's a collaborative platform. It cultivates skills in effective communication, critical analysis, and also interdisciplinary collaboration, which we know sometimes is not really looked at as essential skills, which I would like to disagree with.

I think it's, actively engaging discussions, co-creating contents, uh, which is going to be important in the long run. Um, so it kind of provides a practical and participatory learning experience, uh, that is, that equips, if you would like to call them, our emerging researchers with essential skills. Um, so basically we're kind of more than a tech solution.

We're trying to create more of an ecosystem. that will harness both sort of the human side of things, but also the technological capabilities that are growing, um, and empowering individuals to understand with and, and, and engage with, uh, and quite frankly, also contribute to research. So that's kind of what we're trying to do.


Uh, and you mentioned, uh, the kind of differences between disciplines. Um, so just a clarification question, you, you kind of mentioned science research, is it, Is that the, uh, is that the focus of the platform or is, uh, you, is it fully open to whatever discipline arts, humanities, social sciences, et cetera?


Um, so I'm intrigued to see how it develops.

So it is open to anyone and we would like to encourage anyone, uh, who is interested in, in, in getting on board. We have, um, in our working group, a few, um, people that are from quite a different, uh, background in terms of education. So we've got someone who is actually in the humanities, then we've got some people who are in arts, we've got some, um, people who are in wildly different areas.

And for some of them, they said, Oh, actually having a lay summary in our area isn't the thing yet. So we hope that that's something that we can actually start introducing a bit more. Um, so. we have no limits, but we assume that because of the, the need for a bit of a cultural shift sometimes, uh, to, to happen before people start contributing to it.

I would assume that maybe sort of the harder sciences, the health sciences might be quickest to move in, but, uh, that doesn't mean that I'm not hopeful that many more will join.


Sure, yeah, it's often the case that there's early adopters and later adopters, and that depends on all sorts of reasons for that.

I'm going to hand over to Nick.


Yeah, thanks. And what I think is our final question, actually, that follows on from some of the things you've already been saying. Um, really just to ask where you are up to in engaging universities and partners across the sector. I mean, we've already had a few discussions about, um, Leeds signing up potentially, but again, you know, that free thing is, uh, an interesting question because, you know, we have a tender process and we need to go through a million and one sort of questions, you know, who are your competitors, there might be questions about, uh, GDPR or, you know, um, and then, well, it's free and it doesn't kind of fit with, with that model and then some of the suspicion you alluded to, or, or that kind of thing.

So I suppose. First of all, where are you up to in engaging universities and partners? And how can people get involved, um, with what you're doing? Um, and so I'm probably bad practice to throw many, so many questions that you can go back through them, but where do you see this platform and the related agendas of open and impactful research in, in 10 years?

So there's a lot of questions. I should have asked him one at a time,


We will see how I go. You can always prompt me if I forget something very obvious, um, but, uh, I mean, I'm very glad to say that we're now really making some great progress in getting universities and partners on board. So even though, as you said, our idea and an approach of making it free and then potentially even like having money come back their direction is something that universities haven't really encountered before.

So, as you are, uh, right, it makes it really difficult to find the right people to talk to. Um, however, we've been in touch with both Russell Group universities and non Russell Group universities, and we're excited, um, about our trials with three universities, um, to assess how the platform can measure impact and optimise assessment and those types of things.

Um, one of these trials has already shown very promising results, which is... very, uh, encouraging and fantastic. I mean, the students absolutely loved it and it was the large, um, uh, course that that was carried out on as well. Um, we've presented our work at the UKCORR, which is a network for people managing repositories recently, uh, but also other relevant, um, networks.

And, and what we're seeing is that more inquiries are starting to come our way, which is quite exciting. Um, however, We're not just engaging universities, we're also getting very positive feedback and signups from charities and professional organisations, and we're offering as part of sort of the incentive of being an early adopter, um, for those more innovative, um, sort of organisations.

We're running free masterclasses for them and we're trying to help them make the most of the platform and also help with engagement within their communities. Um, for instance, we've got a few webinars and conferences lined up this year, later this year, to set, to sort of share our insights and engage with the wider community.

So in, in October, we will be hosted by the UKRN to talk a bit about AI versus people generated lay summaries. Um, and we're also in talks with regulatory bodies, such as for instance, the, the, uh, British Psychological Society, uh, and, and, and funding bodies to build sort of stronger relationships that benefit everyone and will then hopefully also, uh, instill more, uh, trust in us, I guess, looking ahead.

10 years from now, we envision the Collaborative Library becoming a really dynamic hub at the heart of open and impactful research. So it's not just about sharing research summaries. It's about empowering students and researchers. Well, master the art of effective communication to ultimately enhance science.

And I think our aim is to... provide the skills and knowledge that extend beyond the traditional, uh, academic boundaries. So if, if anyone would like to get involved or share their thoughts on our platform, then they can always email us, um, to either, uh, give the feedback or get more information from us.

We're also always looking for new people to join our brilliant working group. Um, or perhaps if, if, uh, someone listening to this thinks, oh great, my organisation would be very interested in joining, um, the Collaborative Library to enable members to upload content, then we'd love to hear from them too, so they can check us out on our website, which is, uh,, or send us an email to

Um, and we'd be glad to hear from everyone.


Great. Thank you very much. I mean, yeah, really interested, you know, in that 10 years thing. And what we're really all trying to do, I think is move or change the research culture, isn't it? I mean, this is about research culture, you know, there's a lot of work at Leeds around research culture and actually trying to make it more collaborative and not focused on the traditional H-index and journal impact factors and all that kind of thing.

And actually for the benefit of. of science. So unless you've got any final thoughts, Ged,


um, just, just, uh, a couple of, um, we, we, we did do a bit of a UK, uh, acronym fest. So Research Excellence Framework was the REF. And I think we also said, ESRC, which is the Economics and Social Sciences Research Council.

And Anya, do you want to say what the UKRN is?


Oh yeah, it's the, uh, UK, uh, Reproducibility Network. I think I left out a letter there, my goodness.


Yeah. So, so just to make sure our, uh, our international listeners can,


uh, Yeah, we're, we, we, we perhaps need a lay summary for, for, yeah.


I was going to say, like, oh


dear, huh?

I didn't get that one in lay summary language.


[00:40:17] Ged: Yeah thanks a lot Anya. It's been really lovely to talk to you and I'll leave you to say goodbye to all our listeners.


It's been a pleasure talking to you and I'm looking forward to ongoing collaboration in the future.


And please share with a friend and show them how to subscribe. Thanks for listening, and here's to you and your research culture.

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About the Podcast

Research Culture Uncovered
Changing Research Culture through conversations
At the University of Leeds, we believe that all members of our research community play a crucial role in developing and promoting a positive and inclusive research culture. Across the globe, the urgent need for a better Research Culture in Higher Education is widely accepted – but how do you make it happen? This weekly podcast focuses on our ideas, approaches and learning as we contribute to the University's attempt to create a Research Culture in which everyone can thrive. Whether you undertake, lead, fund or benefit from research - these are the conversations to listen to if you want to explore what a positive Research Culture is and why it matters.

Unless specified in the episode shownotes, Research Culture Uncovered Β© 2023 by Research Culturosity, University of Leeds is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. This license requires that reusers give credit to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms. Some episodes may be licensed under CC BY-ND 4.0, please check before use.

About your hosts

Emma Spary

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I moved into development after several years as an independent researcher and now lead the team providing professional and career development for all researchers and those supporting research. I am passionate about research culture and supporting people. I lead our Concordat implementation work and was part of the national Concordat writing group. I represent Leeds as a member of Researchers14, the N8PDRA group and UKRI’s Alternative Uses Group.

Taryn Bell

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I work as a Researcher Development Adviser at the University of Leeds. My focus is on career development, with a particular focus on supporting funding and fellowships. I previously worked at the University of York as their Fellowship Coordinator, developing and growing the University's community of early career fellows. Get in touch if you'd like to learn more (!

Katie Jones

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I am a Researcher Development and Culture Project Officer at the University of Leeds, where I lead projects within the Researcher Development and Culture Team. My role involves managing projects that enhance the development of researchers and foster a positive research culture across the University and the higher education sector.

Tony Bromley

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I've worked in the area of the development of researchers for 20 years, including at the national and international level. I was lead author of the UK sector researcher development impact framework charged with evaluating the over Β£20M per year investment of UK research councils in researcher development. I have convened the international Researcher Education and Development Scholarship (REDS) conference for a number of years and have published on researcher development evaluation and pedagogy. All the details are on !! Also why not take a look at

Ged Hall

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I've worked for almost 20 years in researcher development, careers guidance and academic skills development. For the last decade I've focused on the area of research impact. This has included organisational development projects and professional development for individual researchers and groups. I co-authored the Engaged for Impact Strategy and am heavily involved in its implementation, across the University of Leeds, to build a healthy impact culture. For 10 years after my PhD, I was a consultant in the utility sector, which included being broker between academia and my clients.

Ruth Winden

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After many years running my own careers consultancy business I made the transition to researcher development leading our careers provision. My background is in career coaching, facilitation and group-based coaching, and I have a special interest in cohort-based coaching programmes which help researchers manage their careers proactively and transition into any sector and role of their choice.

Nick Sheppard

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I have worked in scholarly communications for over 15 years, currently as Open Research Advisor at the University of Leeds. I am interested in effective dissemination of research through sustainable models of open access, including underlying data, and potential synergies with open education and Open Educational Resources (OER), particularly underlying technology, software and interoperability of systems.