By Jon Jeffryes
Amy Riegelman finds inspiration in intellectual curiosity.
She sees scholars bringing that curiosity to the University of Minnesota Libraries, and she applies her own curiosity to support their diverse and changing research needs.
“It’s everywhere.” says Riegelman, librarian for Child Development, Educational Psychology; Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences; and Psychology departments. “I definitely see it in my work with systematic reviews and meta-analyses.”
‘Researchers are trying to synthesize all of the evidence’
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses attempt to capture a comprehensive snapshot of all of the scholarly papers on a specific research topic. These reviews allow practitioners and policymakers to make the best evidence-based decisions and policy.
“Researchers are trying to synthesize all of the evidence,” Riegelman explains. “They’re curious about the story that is told from the whole of the literature instead of just one study.”
Riegelman draws on expertise in information retrieval and research question refinement. She describes her process of translating the question of the researcher into the controlled vocabulary used in bibliographic indexing as a complicated balance between precision — only finding relevant studies on a specific topic — and recall, creating as comprehensive a search as possible.
“Some of my searches are like twenty lines long,” Riegelman explains, “they’re full of ‘ANDs,’ ‘ORs’ and sometimes ‘NOTs’.”
Students and researchers come to Riegelman to combine their research question with her search strategy acumen. Together, with a persistent curiosity, they assemble the best research available to move professional practice forward.
An expert on research reproducibility
Riegelman’s own professional curiosity led her to develop expertise on research reproducibility.
“I became the liaison of psychology when the reproducibility crisis was a hot topic in scholarly literature as well as the popular press,” Riegelman says. “It was important for me to gain some understanding of what that meant for libraries.”
Reproducibility speaks to the ability to reproduce research methods and obtain the same research findings. Reproducible research gives added confidence to the findings of an experiment. Reproducible research also makes a stronger case that the factors being tested are actually producing the results instead of an unintended factor or chance.
Reproducibility relies on organization and transparency, areas that librarians’ work and skills can support.
“I embraced reproducibility and ended up exploring it further in presentations and articles.” That research provides insights into the best practices and models for how other academic libraries can adapt services to support reproducible research practices at their institutions.
Recently Riegelman has partnered with Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services (LATIS) on their initiatives surrounding research reproducibility. Riegelman has facilitated article discussions to foster engagement with reproducibility issues as part of the ReproducibiliTea journal club which is part of the Many Faces of Reproducibility CLA grant.
‘Every day it’s a little different’
When not working Riegelman enjoys running, cross country skiing, fishing, and spending time outdoors with her family and pet dog. Riegelman is also a fan of “terrible, terrible television” and is an avid reader.
Riegelman’s curiosity serves her well in the dynamic setting of an academic library.
“Every day it’s a little different. Somebody comes to you and they’re curious about something,” Riegelman says. “I like to be involved from beginning to end.”