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By Elizabeth Trudell

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Effective relationships result from a shared understanding of the expertise brought by each party, whether it's information services working more effectively with the IT department or the organisation's leaders valuing specialised source expertise input for strategic decision-making.


Specialised Sources & Illuminating Experts

The book Search Patterns by Peter Morville and Jeffery Callender (O'Reilly, 2010) is among the resources for students in the MS programme for Information and Knowledge Strategy at Columbia University. The book aims to expand understanding of search functionality from simple known item look-up (which dominates Google searching) to a wide range of specialised type of content source, plus features for both casual and expert searchers.

Types of Expertise

The second chapter introduces a simple yet useful view of types of expertise which contrasts search expertise with domain expertise.

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Figure 1: Expertise types
2-03. Expertise types" from Search Patterns by Peter Morville and Jeffery Callender is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This highlights the range of skills and needs of different users, including the special role of the power searcher, who combines both search system expertise and domain expertise.

Most information centres operating within pharmaceutical or biomedical research environments deploy multiple domain specialists, for content such as patents and chemical literature and special applications such as drug pipeline tracking and pharmacovigilance.

If your colleagues or management don't fully understand the value that domain and search expertise bring to the organisation, the recently-run Jinfo Webinar "Source Expertise and Your Value to the Business" brings important insights. It is part of Jinfo's current Research Focus "Source Expertise - What it Means in a Google World".

Effective Relationships

Jinfo's recently completed Research Focus on managing the relationship between IT and information services has resulted in a wealth of information, but two case studies are especially relevant to the topic of understanding departmental roles and expertise. Two articles focused on Cargill and Lord Corporation: large, diversified organisations with many divisions and product lines, similar to global pharmaceutical firms.

At Lord Corporation, the information centre has developed service offerings which are vital to the IT department, doing research on best practices and creating a monthly IT newsletter covering key technologies. This use of source expertise by the IS staff has helped them build a strong relationship with their IT colleagues. At Cargill, the IS staff have focused on understanding the IT priorities and workflows.

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