Susan Atkey

Librarian, Humanities and Social Sciences Division

Susan Atkey has guided the UBC Research Commons from its inception, 6 years ago. With her expertise in a wide selection of research softwares, she has been able to lead the development of curriculum for learning NVivo, SPSS, R, RefWorks, Mendeley, and Zotero, to name but a few. Under her leadership, in just the last calendar year, the UBC Research Commons team of Graduate Academic Assistants helped over 1000 students, through a combination of workshops and one-on-one consultations.

As the UBC Research Commons Librarian, Susan has spread the reach of the Research Commons across UBC. We had a chance to catch up with Susan to ask her a few Research Commons questions:

What areas do your current projects focus on, particularly in the areas of digital scholarship and the digital humanities?

I am currently deep-diving into text mining tools (e.g. Python, Voyant) to uncover patterns and relationships in large collections of texts. I’m inspired by the tools and process of social knowledge creation, collaborating openly online to produce knowledge, documents and data. I’ve been actively editing Wikipedia and Wikidata, and think there is an important role for students, instructors and librarians to contribute their subject knowledge to these and other open platforms.

Which Research Commons tools have you been able to use for your projects?

The Research Commons tools I use on a regular basis are NVivo for analysis of text-based data, and the citation management tools Zotero and Mendeley for managing references and collaborating on open bibliographies.

How are you using these tools for your projects?

NVivo is super for things like environmental scans and literature reviews because it allows you to identify themes and make connections between sources. I use Zotero for online bibliographies; see for example my Zotero bibliography on Text Mining and Academic Libraries.

To find out more about any of the great resources that Susan mentioned, email us at