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Upcoming library space aims to make research easier

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The Research Commons will be located on the third floor of the 18th Avenue Library. Construction is set to begin in summer and continue through fall. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

The Research Commons will be located on the third floor of the 18th Avenue Library. Construction is set to begin in summer and continue through fall. Credit: Jon McAllister / Asst. photo editor

At Ohio State, research isn’t just something scientists do with lab coats and test tubes. Research is an ongoing process among all levels of students and faculty in various departments, and one new initiative aims to take the concept of research from the lab to the library.

OSU’s libraries are in the process of opening the Research Commons, which will provide assistance regarding research to undergraduates, graduates, postdoctoral students and faculty members.

The Research Commons will be located on the third floor of the 18th Avenue Library starting in spring 2016, said Meris Mandernach, the head of research services for the OSU libraries and associate professor of research and education.

The Commons is designed to be a communal space that will offer guests access to research resources.

“It’s going to be a unique space in the library that’s very different in the way we conceptualize the use of space,” said Mandernach. “We want to be able to foster an atmosphere where people can come to individually work on their research project (or) a group research project. They’ll be in a community, in an atmosphere that will allow them to be successful.”

Joshua Sadvari, Research Commons manager, said this location will provide a central location for students interested in using research-related resources.

“That’s one of the major aims of the Research Commons, to be a centralized, one-stop-shop, first-stop location to address researchers’ needs. That can be in the Research Commons but (we can) also refer them to other offices across campus where they can have their questions answered as well,” Sadvari said.

The Research Commons seeks to promote collaboration among researchers across different departments, Sadvari said.

The project cost more than $1.68 million, said Larry Allen, an OSU Libraries spokesman.

Although the Research Commons isn’t open yet, it has already started to provide services to researchers across the university, Sadvari said.

“One of the things we’ve done since June is begin to partner with the other services across campus,” he said. “That’s really been a driving force behind the workshops we’ve been doing and the other events we’ve been doing.”

Mandernach said the construction is scheduled to begin in the summer and continue into the fall.

Sadvari said he thinks the Research Commons will appeal to students because it is a “really flexible space, an open space,” that can be used for a variety of purposes.

“We’ll have a visualization studio, group study spaces, a video conferencing space for facilitating collaborative meetings with research groups not only at Ohio State, but with colleagues that might be at other institutions,” Sadvari said.

Students can access the Commons’ services by participating in the events listed on the Commons’ website, Sadvari said.

“They cover such a wide range of topics that perhaps students will find something they’re interested in, and come to a workshop,” he said.

Francesca Force, a fourth-year in human development and family science, conducts research in the Department of Human Sciences in the Social-Emotional Capacity Lab. Force said she thinks the Research Commons will provide more opportunities for students to be involved at the university.

“My research this semester focuses on social and emotional regulations and outcomes. The various studies look at people across the lifespan,” Force said.

Force said she thinks the Research Commons could also help busy students find opportunities to get involved in research.

“With college being busy and fast-paced, sometimes it is hard to find students to participate,” she said. “The Research Commons could help bridge the gap in the participants needed.”

Matt Pekarek, a third-year in industrial and systems engineering, said he would be interested in using the Research Commons as an extra resource.

“My research is with college football recruit rankings as a predictor of future performance and regional trends within college football recruiting,” Pekarek said. “I would use the Research Commons to find out past approaches or resources used to answer questions similar to what I’m interested in.”

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