Managing Scientific Literature Access and Copyright Compliance in a Remote Workforce

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Managing literature can be tricky for companies at the best of times, and especially so during a worldwide pandemic.  As a knowledge and information management consultant, I’ve seen various approaches to handling it – including a free-for-all with employees purchasing articles directly from publishers using their own credit cards or accessing subscriptions via personal accounts and academic affiliations. I’ve observed users storing PDFs on shared drives or SharePoint, emailing them around to coworkers, and posting and discussing articles on Yammer.  I’ve witnessed clients using both Excel files to keep track of the articles the company has purchased, and a point person within the organization as a gatekeeper of the literature.   All of these approaches have their issues, copyright compliance primary among them.  Add to this that many employees are now working from home, potentially no longer on the company network, and may not be able to seamlessly access the content they should have access to via their company’s subscriptions.

A literature management tool can enhance productivity by streamlining access to content and improving communication between collaborators, and many have evolved in the last few years.  They are no longer just document delivery services, but collaborative tools to enable discussions.  Now, with so many employees working from home, while others remain in the office or alternate locations, conversations that happened organically in hallways, conference rooms and labs are no longer occurring.  Workers may not have immediate access to their go-to co-worker who sat next to them in the office and must communicate using alternative online conversations.  The right information management tool can help improve collaboration, simplify workflows and save users time.

While current circumstances may make it seem like it’s not an optimal time to throw something new at people, rolling out solutions that will make workers’ lives and managing content easier is a worthwhile venture – and a less daunting one than you may think.

One of my clients recently initiated a literature deep dive project where they began reviewing over 50,000 articles pulled in from a literature alert.  To make this a manageable task, the citations were added to a shared library within the literature management tool and divided up between the group members.  A workflow was created to capture required information in the review process, where the fields are then filterable and searchable.  Without this resource, this task would be practically impossible.

Using a combination of built-in features, like automatic topic categorization, and highly customized fields, RightFind was able to support our unique workflow amazingly well. This allowed us to divide up the work while still maintaining a strong team collaboration despite the decreased touchpoints. I’m not sure how we could have done this without a literature management tool as adaptable as RightFind.”

Having a central access point for all your literature needs where users can search, retrieve, review, annotate, and collaborate takes the guesswork out of the equation.  The system automatically checks for copies available through subscriptions or covered under the company’s copyright licenses.  Copyright permissions are checked with each transaction, so risk of infringement is also lowered.  But most importantly, a proper literature management tool can make access to literature easier for researchers.  Faster research makes for faster discoveries and decision making.

Additionally, literature management doesn’t have to be yet another technical hurdle, especially with an already overwhelmed IT team.  When I recently implemented RightFind for a client, they had nothing but positive feedback:

The implementation process was surprisingly smooth during a time when employees do not get the opportunity to see each other in person.  RightFind made the process easy by providing a single point of contact, an easy to follow interface, and offering training for end users via web conferencing.  We believe RightFind is a big step up from our previous literature management system and has thus far been well received by our R&D community.”

Peter McLaughlin, Senior Director of IT at Scholar Rock

Does implementing a new system seem overwhelming?  Hire a consultant to facilitate the process.  Aside from a brief call to integrate SSO, your IT group doesn’t need to get their hands dirty.  The efficiency you gain is surely worth the effort!

Interested in learning more? Check out:

Heather Desmarais

Author: Heather Desmarais

Heather Desmarais is a knowledge and information management consultant, as well as the founder and principal of HJDesmarais Consulting LLC.

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