Bringing Research into Reach

University highlights resources for researchers at all levels at open house event.

December 03, 2012

At George Washington’s first Teaching and Research Support Open House on Thursday, representatives from University Libraries, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and many university divisions related to research gathered for a presentation and poster session highlighting the resources available to support research and teaching at GW.

Interim University Librarian Andrea Stewart explained that the event, formerly called Library Update, had been revamped to emphasize the many resources not directly part of the libraries that can assist faculty members and students—including the Office of Entrepreneurship, the Office of Academic Integrity, and the university’s Tech Commons.

Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Stephen Ehrmann spoke about funding opportunities for research and emphasized GW’s growing commitment to funding undergraduate projects.

“We’ve got an undergraduate research steering committee,” he said. “Those committee members are going from department to department and asking faculty, ‘How are you supporting students’ engagement in research? How does the curriculum support it, what kinds of opportunities are there, how do faculty find students? And we’re also trying to provide more money for this effort.’”

The Office of the Provost has been providing matching research funds, so that when faculty members hire students to work on research, they can be reimbursed for half of the amount by the provost’s office, Dr. Ehrmann said. 

“Last year, we spent all those funds, and we’re hoping to show that demand vastly exceeds supply,” he said. “We’re working to raise more money to increase the size of that program.”

Dianne Martin, vice provost for faculty affairs, said the search for the next university librarian is underway, with a pool of 32 initial candidates selected. Twelve of those candidates will meet with administrators in the next month, and the top five or six candidates will visit campus in late January.

“We want to find a person who has strategic vision for the library of the future, who will match with the strategic vision the provost and his team have come up with over the past year,” Dr. Martin said.

At the poster session, representatives from library departments and campus partners explained resources available both within the university libraries and outside. Dan Chudnov, GW’s director of scholarly technology at the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, explained how he and his colleagues are harnessing the power of Twitter to provide data to students and faculty conducting research. In fields ranging from journalism and computer science, researchers are using Twitter data sets to investigate diverse topics.

Researchers interested in tracking a trend—such as the phrase “binders full of women” during the recent election debate—don’t have to manually sort through Twitter feeds, he explained. A tool called Social Feed Manager can collect Twitter data and export it to data analysis software like SPSS so that researchers can easily analyze it.

The challenge now, Mr. Chudnov said, is to make students and faculty aware that Twitter can be a powerful research tool when applied in a focused and scholarly way.

Other library and university divisions represented at the open house included the Global Resource Center, Gelman Library Special Collections, the University Writing Center, and the Gelman Library renovation project. The completion date for the Gelman entrance-floor renovations has been moved forward to fall 2013 from summer 2014, said Samantha McGovern, facilities project coordinator in the Division of Operations.

More information about the offices and departments represented at the open house is available online.