New Year’s Reflections and annual review

I am really good at looking forward and planning for the future, but less good at reflecting on my accomplishments. On one hand, the annual review process forces me to do this. On the other, the paperwork is relatively repetitive and burdensome and reflects administrative/institutional needs rather than my own personal and professional development goals.

Reflecting back on 2013
The biggest take away from 2013 is that I let the small stuff get in the way of accomplishing bigger goals. Aside from six conference trips, which felt like too many for myself and my family, my focus lagged throughout the year. The numbers could suggest a productive year, but I look back and see scattered progress across too many areas of effort without significant progress on the projects that I now recognize as important and impactful. For example, getting the data management workshops/lab pilots running has taken several months longer than I hoped. This is primarily due to spreading myself too thin and taking on too many service opportunities excusing them as chances for networking across the campus. To be entirely honest, I tend to make things more complicated than they need to be. Some of this lack of focus is probably typical for someone early in their career; I sometimes forget that my goals were not as clear at the beginning of 2013 as they are now. While I expect these will continue to change, I feel like I have a solid list of things I want to accomplish in the next 2-3 years. More about these in the looking forward comments below.

The second biggest lesson is hard earned, not because it was painful, but because I have been so slow in realizing it. Writing is an exercise in communication, so it makes sense that a writer would get input before publishing, formal or not, to make sure the message is conveyed clearly, right? I just learned this for myself. It took repeated experiences with a supportive collegial writing group this year to fully grasp how much I need informal conversation and feedback on my ideas to gain perspective before I try to write. I used to believe that writing helped me from my thoughts better than conversation, but I was incredibly mistaken. I am slowly figuring out my writing workflow, yet I still have a long way to go.

Looking forward and planning for 2014

I have too many goals for 2014, so I am limiting this list to the realistic and important professional ones.

Data services
-develop defined support for NIH data sharing plans
-incorporate evaluations for consultations to improve service and outreach

Data management training
-refine the data management curriculum for health and social science graduate students, staff, and faculty
-develop a faculty-oriented data management planning workshop for the project start-up phase
-increase awareness of these training opportunities

Data stewardship and sharing
-partner with other campus units to leverage expertise in data management and RCR topics
-advance the campus-level conversation about data management, sharing, and preservation
-build relationships with faculty interested in sharing and more widely disseminating their scholarly products by doing more outreach with faculty
-follow through on awards with data management plans promising to share data

Center-related
-set up data collection tools and review for services
-improvements to repositories
-implementation and adoption of altmetrics tools

Public Health Liaisonship
-implement curricular plan for integrating information literacy into the MPH program
-reach out to faculty to gather more information about collection needs
-send out annual survey on satisfaction with library services

Professional development in general
-make more time to read on a weekly basis
-take structured notes on all readings
-maintain master Endnote library
-set aside time to reflect and write on a weekly basis
-learn more about database design and management
-learn R

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By Heather L. Coates

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