Social Interoperability in Research Support

Research universities face significant challenges in supporting research workflows and ensuring institutional competitiveness. To develop robust research support services throughout the entire research life cycle, people and units, including the library, often need to break through internal silos to collaborate. Effective social interoperability—the creation and maintenance of working relationships between individuals and organizational units—in higher education requires a thorough knowledge of campus partners. It enables stakeholders to cut through complexities and obstacles, promote mutual understanding, highlight coincidence of interest, and cultivate buy-in and consensus for research support services like research data management and ORCID adoption.

Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-Campus Partnerships and the University Research Enterprise

The 2019-2020 OCLC Research project Social Interoperability in Research Support explores the social and structural norms(and barriers) that shape cross-campus collaboration. With content synthesized from interviews conducted with practitioners from a wide range of campus units, the report describes the network of campus stakeholders involved in both the provision and consumption of research support services. The resulting OCLC Research report, Social Interoperability in Research Support: Cross-campus partnerships and the university research enterprise synthesizes information about the highly decentralized, complex research support ecosystem at US research institutions, offers a conceptual model of campus research support stakeholders, and provides recommendations for establishing and stewarding successful cross-campus relationships.

Understanding this complexity of university systems is essential for successful navigation and collaboration. This is particularly true as we observe the growth in research support services offered by US research universities today, such as: 

The above four topics are explored in depth in the report. Effective provision of research support services often depends on productive interactions between the library, IT services, communications specialists, and other campus stakeholders (see figure). No single unit owns or manages these services;research support is an enterprise-wide task.

In addition to the report, there are other outputs of interest to the research support community:


Report Abstract: Social Interoperability in Research Support

Report Abstract

This high-level summary of the research report includes highlights and key findings from the research report. This two-page flyer can be easily shared to provide a high-level overview of the concept of social interoperability, the primary stakeholders in research support, and key practices for successful cross-campus social interoperability.

View the abstract >>


Webinar Series

The OCLC Research Library Partnership is offering a complementary webinar series for its members, particularly offering two different perspectives on cross-campus collaboration in research support: 

  • Case study examples of cross-institutional collaboration from RLP partner institutions.

  • “Stakeholder spotlight” webinars in which panels of experts from nonlibrary research stakeholder communities share relevant information about their work and how they are eager to partner with libraries. These stakeholders include research development, faculty affairs, and communications. 

Live attendance at RLP webinars is restricted to members, but archives of all recordings are publicly available to the entire research support community.  

Team members

Rebecca Bryant, Senior Program Officer
Annette Dortmund, Research Consultant
Brian Lavoie, Senior Research Scientist

OCLC Research Library Partnership Activities

OCLC Research collaborates with librarians from OCLC Research Library Partnership member institutions to learn, share, and collectively conduct research. The Research Support listserv provides a discussion forum exclusively for RLP members. Interested in joining us? Learn more.

Short URL: oc.lc/social-interoperability-project