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Make the Library Your Lab Partner

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Labs are all about seeing how ideas come to life. At the American University Library, we think that knowledge creation is a natural partner with innovation, visualization, and impact. Take a look at the resources we have for making, mapping, teaching, and measuring your research impact — we think you’ll want to make us your lab partner.

Printing your idea in 3-D

Three-dimensional (3-D) technology gives students and faculty the ability to bring lectures and presentations to life in a unique way, allowing them to form a hands-on connection to the material and ideas. It has the potential to dramatically reshape research presentations and projects.

Technology Services at Bender Library offers an Ultimaker 2 3-D printer and a MakerBot Digitizer 3-D scanner for the campus community. These new tools have the ability to print plastic designs from 3-D files that are original creations, downloads from the growing community of 3-D printing enthusiasts, or designs that have been scanned from an existing object.

Staff members at the Technology Services Desk have compiled resources to help users understand, design, download, and format 3-D files for printing. Printing costs are low (base printing fee of $4 plus five cents per gram of material) to reduce the barriers for our users and to optimize the accessibility of this technology. Three-dimensional printing provides opportunities for more dynamic presentations that incorporate physical representations of digital models, allow for “hands-on” experiences with 3-D printed artifacts, and encourage the audience to become more engaged with the speaker and the subject matter.

Supporting your Research and Teaching through Technology

The library’s newest lab provides helpful services, new devices, and a comfortable space for members of the AU Community who want to expand their understanding of geospatial research and/or use of instructional technology. Located in Anderson Computing Complex, room B16, this lab features two distinct service zones: the Geospatial Research Lab and the IdeaSpace.

The Geospatial Research Lab supports the university’s research and teaching programs that use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies and resources. The lab is building and curating AU’s spatial data collection and providing services in support of robust geo- spatial research. The lab supports scholars who work in fields not historically associated with geospatial analysis as they explore how geographic visualization can assist them in examining relationships and causalities, uncovering patterns, and making predictions. Meagan Snow, program director for Geospatial Research Support at the library, offers assistance with using lab resources and training on unique and informative data visualization. The lab is a hub for maps, data, and visualization.

The IdeaSpace is an instructional technology training zone,that creates a designated place for faculty classroom technology training. Maintained by AU's Audio Visual (AV) Services group, the IdeaSpace contains classroom mock-up configurations, experimental classroom arrangements, and a collection of new technologies that allow faculty to try devices or practice integrating technology into the classroom. Katie Kassof, instructional technologist and space designer at the library, offers one-on-one faculty training, which is specific to the university classroom technology. In short, you get the most out of the technology in your classroom with the IdeaSpace.

For more information, contact Meagan Snow at or 202-885-6409, or contact Katie Kassof at or 202-885-2292.

Maximizing Your Research Visibility and Measuring Research Impact

There are several approaches researchers can take to increase the visibility of their output, including sharing articles through scholarly and social networks, publishing open access scholarship, and communicating their research to non-scholarly audiences.

Scholarly and Social Networks: Research is frequently shared through a variety of online communication channels. Increasingly, scholars are also using academic versions of social networks, such as, ResearchGate, Mendeley, and SSRN, to keep up with other researchers, discover articles, ask questions, and disseminate their own research. More information about each of these networks, including how to register and main features, are covered in the library’s research guide.

Open Access: Open access, or OA, is the publication process that makes research freely available to the public, and remains one of the best options to reach researchers with limited resources. American University pro- vides a repository for faculty scholarship, the Digital Research Archive, which can increase research visibility. For more information, contact Chris Lewis, at or 202-885-3257.

Communicating Research: While not traditionally included in impact measurements, another potentially important area is public impact. This can take many forms, from an op-ed in a newspaper on a research topic, keeping a professional blog related to research, or creating and publishing videos related to research through venues like YouTube, or citing a publication in Wikipedia. These types of communication introduce research to the public, and to other researchers.

Measuring Research Impact

The subject of impact, and the best way to measure and demonstrate it, has been debated throughout academia. Historically, citation counts have been the primary indicator of scholarly impact, as well as publishing in prestigious journals, as measured by the journal impact factor. Today, we have more ways to measure journal quality, and we can also measure indicators such as downloads, views, and shares. These methods help understand the attention, engagement and impact of scholarly works.

The Library provides a guide to help faculty locate and use metrics. Researchers can also set up an individual consultation for a more personalized introduction to using various tools to measure their own research impact.

For more information about any of these topics, or to schedule your own individual consultation, contact Rachel Borchardt, science librarian, at or 202-885-3657.