VALA2022 CC4 Sideris

“Doing my own research”: access to expert opinion outside traditional academic publishing

Wednesday 15 June 2022, 15.10-15.40 and 15.50-16.20

Laki Sideris
  • Head of Product, Manager
  • Informit

Please tag your comments, tweets, and blog posts about this session: #vala2022 #cc4


The COVID-19 pandemic has created a watershed moment where people are put into a position to ascertain the validity of expert opinion in order to make potential life and death decisions. While scepticism of authority is considered a positive trait and encouraged through education, it has also reduced trust in domain expertise, while social media networks encourage people to “do their own research”. On the other hand, academic research papers contain technical detail and assumed knowledge that can exclude the general reader or may even provide false evidence to a reader’s confirmation bias. Popular websites and commentators have in many instances provided factually wrong or misleading information and advice. In this environment, people may prefer to seek perspective from their social peers. To counter this there has been a proliferation of publications and experts working within research areas explaining their research and informed opinion in non-technical language for a general audience. Many of these publications go beyond the “TED talk” mode by providing accessible detail, promoting evidence over emotion.

In this Critical Conversation we will ask: Is there a role for libraries to play in helping people decipher the “noise” and raise the voice of considered expert opinion?

This discussion will help Informit frame the development of a new database to be released in 2022. We are in the early stages in aggregating content from a wide range of open publications containing expert academic opinion and current research news. They are written in accessible language that help frame community discourse. The database will also provide an archive of the published content that by its nature is ephemeral. By including this database into libraries’ collections, articles can be discovered alongside broader research and help library users obtain a broader contextualised understating of complex research and hot topics.


Laki Sideris has been in the electronic publishing industry more than twenty years. He is currently the Head of Product at Informit. Over the years he help bring to life many Informit databases such as APAFT, TVNews and EduTV. He has also lectured for many at RMIT University in their Information Managment department.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.