Best of ResearchRadar 2023 and plans for the future

Best of ResearchRadar 2023 and plans for the future

By Aaron Tay, Lead, Data Services

We are coming towards the end of 2023! How time flies.

It has been a productive and exciting year for SMU Libraries as we roll out new pilot services covering the whole research workflow from literature review support to publishing open access to marketing via visual abstracts and research assessment and of course covering the latest trends that might impact research.

As such this has been reflected by the coverage and content of Research Radar in 2023.

Let’s have a look back, shall we...

AI, Large language models and its impact on search and other tools

2023 can be said to be “the year of ChatGPT or generative AI” and the ResearchRadar team was kept busy covering various aspects of this technology.

As higher education grasped with the implications of this technology, we wrote pieces explaining the technology and reviewing and explaining how search tools (our specialty!) are integrating generative AI.

Even as traditional academic database providers like Scopus, Dimensions are doing the same (typically using retrieval augmented generation techniques), we urge caution when using this technology.

While retrieval augmented generation techniques (RAG) which try to ground generated answers with context or evidence found by the retriever (ie search engine) are currently a popular way to try to overcome the limitations of just using generative AI alone, as we have explained, it does not reduce made up answers to zero. You should always verify the extracted or generated information even when they come with citations as it is not uncommon for the generated text to be either false or not supported by the citation given (though the citation found using RAG is usually real).

As many of these tools like Elicit and Scispace start to charge, we at SMU Libraries are looking forward to having discussions with the SMU Community on the use and subscription of such tools. A unique point about such search tools compared to conventional search tools is that they may be charged on a per-use basis pricing model which complicates matters (See Elicit pricing model)

Generative AI Hackathon

But we did not just discuss and study AI tools, in August 2023, SMU Libraries also organised a SMU Hackathon on the use of generative AI to improve library and research experiences with over 16 teams participating (see recap and video presentation of winning teams)

Generative AI and other research tools for text mining, qualitative and quantitative analysis and more

But generative AI can be used for more than search! Our data services librarian, Bella wrote pieces about 3 ways to safely use ChatGPT to assist you with learning code, and we wrote a piece on 5 suggested courses to learn about Generative AI and Prompt Engineering in Udemy.

But that’s not all you can do with generative AI! Bella experimented with transcribing interview and focus group recordings for free with Whisper with great results.

2023 was also the year that SMU Libraries launched our SMU Data and investment studio with access to many research tools including Covidence, Stata, SAS, Nvivo and ATLAS.ti that you can use.

Not to forget this was also the year we subscribed to Proquest Text and Data Mining Studio which allows you to easily do text mining of content that you have access to via the Proquest platform including journals and newspapers.

Other articles not to miss include our research services librarian, Dong Danping’s article on Data Anonymization 101 where she covered basic concepts and the use of the free tool Amnesia.

In the coming year, we hope to broaden our expertise in these new tools and provide better and deeper support for them.

Changes to publication and research metrics and other new SMU Libraries' pilot services

Publish a lot? You also certainly need to learn about the Read and Publish deals we signed with Cambridge University Press and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) which you can now publish open access with no charge to you (conditions apply).

Interested in research metrics? Check out our coverage of the major changes to Clarivates’ JCR in 2023

Learn also about the new pilot service on the creation of visual abstracts and the pilot service on systematic and literature review service.

We are looking forward to further discussions with you on these new services and how to better work with you.

So, this wraps up Research Radar for 2023, on behalf of the team, thank you for reading and your kind comments supporting our work! We hope to see you in 2024!