Provost IMPACT Award supports strengthening and expansion of UK Libraries research data services

Faculty presenting library research
IMPACT funding helped hire a visiting faculty member as a Data Applications Librarian to strengthen and expand UK Libraries research data services. Courtesy UK Libraries

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 9, 2024) —  The Institutional Multidisciplinary Paradigm to Accelerate Collaboration and Transformation (IMPACT) Awards were launched in 2023 to champion the necessary and groundbreaking work done by University of Kentucky faculty and other campus community members.

The inaugural IMPACT Awards total more than $600,000 — with a particular emphasis on proposals that are transdisciplinary, innovative and aligned with some aspect of The UK-PURPOSE, the UK Strategic Plan.

In 2024, IMPACT will continue to fund projects similarly aimed at supporting the university to continue leading in teaching, research, service and care.

This spring, UKNow is highlighting the 2023 IMPACT Award projects and the faculty who are leading them. Today, we learn more about the project titled Data Applications Librarian.

UK Libraries’ Sarah Dorpinghaus, director of Digital Strategies & Technologies, and Jennifer Hootman, coordinator of Digital Scholarship & Data, were awarded IMPACT funding to hire a visiting faculty member in a Data Applications Librarian position to strengthen and expand UK Libraries research data services, particularly in data refinement, analysis, and visualization. Diane Parr was hired for the position in December 2023, with the rare combination of a Masters of Applied Statistics from UK and experience working in libraries. She joins the growing Digital Scholarship & Data department of library professionals with expertise in research data management, digital scholarship and scholarly communications.

UKNow caught up with the research team to learn more about the project. You can read more in the Q&A session below.

UKNow: How has the IMPACT award inspired innovation at UK with your research?

As faculty and students across campus are increasingly using digital tools and computational methods to conduct research and share findings, this IMPACT award allows UK Libraries to capitalize upon existing services and strengths to build capacity for supporting these growing research needs. Having a position dedicated to supporting data needs across campus will transform research potential and help build a culture of innovation and transdisciplinary collaboration at UK.

UKNow: What positive impact will your research have on Kentucky and beyond?

As Data Applications Librarian, Parr develops and shares expertise on best practices and workflows for data refinement, analysis, visualization and modeling with an emphasis on open and reproducible practices. She offers individual and team consultations for faculty and students using digital tools and computational methods in their research and teaching, regardless of academic discipline or skill level. Parr also assists researchers working with structured data, data markup and encoding, with consideration for eventual deposit to repositories. This position will be a catalyst for agile, efficient and impactful research across campus and position UK researchers for success.

UKNow: How did you decide on this particular topic or research area?

The new Data Applications Librarian position is part of the greater vision for The Stacks, a transdisciplinary digital scholarship space that will host an array of resources, services and programs to empower and support the university community in their research and instruction. Located on the ground floor of the King Library Annex in central campus and slated to open later this year, The Stacks will offer specialized equipment, resources and events dedicated to digital and data-intensive scholarship. Our librarians, Parr included, offer consultations, instruction and support services to students and faculty at every stage of the research lifecycle, with expertise encompassing all facets of digital scholarship.

UKNow: What comes next for your research?

Parr is collaborating with other UK Libraries faculty to develop and offer workshops over the summer and fall on data applications for faculty and students. She is also creating a comprehensive data applications research guide focused on data analysis and visualization, which is publicly available on UK Libraries’ website and used in outreach and instruction. She is also actively building relationships with campus groups, such as the Department of Statistics’ Predictive Analytics and Data Science (PADS) Hub, Business Analytics Lab, Office of Undergraduate Research and more.

Situated at the crossroads of the research process, academic libraries help universities stay current with transitions occurring in the production, dissemination and retrieval of information. With this new position — made possible through IMPACT Award funding — UK Libraries is better positioned to accommodate these changes, support and promote the University’s intellectual capital, and facilitate scholarly communication across campus and the broader community.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.