This explorative cultural probe project set out to learn about the information and research behaviours of postdoctoral researchers and PhD students at the University of Cambridge. Nine participants from a number of AHSS and STEM disciplines completed a research diary over two weeks and a number of additional research methods were used, including a photo study and cognitive mapping exercise. The majority of the large and varied qualitative data set was gathered during debriefing interviews with participants, during which the materials they produced were examined and areas of interest were explored further.
The projects findings led us to a variety of service design suggestions, both for new services which could be trialled and prototyped and ‘quick-fix’ suggestions that could be implemented more immediately. Potential new services included: Expertisefinder, a sister service to the successful Spacefinder which would list and promote library staff and their areas of expertise; an inter-disciplinary support network facilitated by library staff; the introduction of Library Envoys sitting within a research group or close knit group of PhDs students, acting as a conduit for information about library services and developments; and a means of increasing the visibility of training, support and information relating to statistical software at the University.
The findings of this study should also prove invaluable in informing further research conducted by the Futurelib Programme.