DREaM workshop 3 (#lis_dream4) review and thanks

DREaM logo The DREaM project workshop cadre met yesterday in Edinburgh for the last of the three DREaM project workshops (and the fourth of the five DREaM project events, with the final event being the 2012 DREaM conference at the British Library on 9th July 2012). We have already posted the PowerPoint presentations and resources for the workshop task to this web site (accessible from the workshop page), and over the next few days we will add further resources: session summaries; photographs; video and audio material; and output from our event amplification on the day. A number of delegates are busy writing reviews (the first of which by Jo Alcock has just gone online today), and we will list these together as soon as they are ready. In the meantime we have had a chance to analyse the 25 delegate workshop evaluation forms submitted at the end of the day and are able to present this short review.

The workshop was another successful DREaM project event, with most delegates rating its overall value as “excellent”. Amongst the comments on the overall value of the event, the delegates said:

  • “Excellent presentations, resources and facilities.”
  • “Fantastic learning and networking opportunity.”
  • “Really practical and useful. A great way of meeting people.”
  • “A very valuable opportunity, very well organised and thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you.”

Learning from one another about the impact of research on practice

Learning from one another about the impact of research on practice

The majority of delegates rated all the timetabled sessions as “excellent”. These included: Hazel Hall’s introduction to the day; Harry Woodroof’s presentation on horizon scanning; Phil Turner’s presentation on repertory grids; the Unconference Half Hour; Kevin Swingler’s presentation on data mining; and the workshop task on links between research and impact (which was set up by Hazel Hall as an exercise largely led by the delegates themselves).

Phil Turner’s session on repertory grids was the most popular. In his presentation Phil provided an entertaining introduction to how the repertory grid technique can be used in exploratory research that seeks to reveal personal construct systems. The Twitter commentary and exchanges that took place as Phil presented, the questions at the end of his session, and discussions over lunchtime showed how the delegates appreciated Phil’s skilled explanation of the technique. By making reference to the history of its development, and including a worked example that was relevant to the interests of library and information science researchers and practitioners, delegates were able to appreciate the context of the technique and envisage possible applications in their own work.

Discussions over lunch

Discussions over lunch

Harry Woodroof’s contribution to the day was also very well-pitched and greatly appreciated as an overview of horizon scanning for the DREaM audience. This presentation raised some interesting questions related to, for example, the validity of information sources, and the paradox of evidence-based policy where “policy” requires solutions for the future in an environment where “evidence” can only be accessed from the past. We were grateful that Harry was able to spend much of the day with us, not least so that the animated question and answer session at the end of his presentation could be continued on a one-to-one basis at lunchtime.

Kevin Swingler’s session data mining, also rated “excellent” by the majority of workshop participants and described by one as “really fascinating”, introduced a technique that is not commonly used in library and information science research, yet could have interesting applications. The session was also valuable for instances when librarians and information scientists are the consumers of research. For example, one delegate noted on his/her workshop evaluation form “The data mining talk was particularly helpful in my role as a health librarian in terms of interpreting and analysing research in the health context”. The discussion of the limitations of computer models also provided some entertaining session content on the similarities and differences between dogs and chairs: both have four legs, but you wouldn’t normally sit on a dog!

Aislinn Conway's Unconference Half Hour flipchart

Aislinn Conway's Unconference Half Hour flipchart

The Unconference Half Hour provided another opportunity to hear about the projects with which members of the DREaM project workshop cadre are involved. Themes covered included clinical evidence-based information services (Aislinn Conway); information and communication poverty (Anthony McKeown); digital research and curation projects at the British Library (Rossitza Atanassova), and the changing role of academic librarians from one of liaison to interaction (Allan Parsons). Ella Taylor-Smith spoke about two events for information science PhD students, both of which take place in Edinburgh in June: the iDocQ colloquium on 19th and a session on discourse analysis at the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) Summer School on 20th. Alison Brettle took the opportunity of her Unconference Half Hour slot to explain that she would like to gather critical incident technique data to help prepare for her conference paper about the DREaM project at the QQML conference next month.

Once again the delegates showed appreciation of the workshop venue: the comfort and facilities at Edinburgh Napier University’s Craighouse campus were rated “excellent” by the majority. Even though some delegates had travelled a long way to Edinburgh (for example, from as far away as Devon and Northern Ireland), the majority still rated the convenience of the location as “excellent” or “very good”. The workshop organisers were also pleased that the majority rated the conference administration as “excellent”, both in the run-up to the event, and on the day itself. Kind comments on the evaluation forms included:

  • “I felt very informed and confident in the directions and advice given prior to the event. The admin team have been very approachable.”
  • “Organised like a military operation – well done.”

Delegates showed appreciation of the work of event amplifier Kirsty Pitkin, particularly for recording the presentations. One noted “It’s fantastic that presentations are recorded.”

Networking at the Café Royal

Networking at the Café Royal

As has been the case with all the DREaM project events, the delegates appreciated the opportunities to renew friendships and develop their professional networks further. Indeed just under a third of the participants started early with a trip to the Café Royal the night before the workshop.

Although this is the last of the formal workshops, there is clearly an appetite for the community members to continue to extend their relationships, as is evident in these comments from the workshop evaluation forms such as “Very interested in continuing professional relationships and on-going projects”; “Hope that the group can stay in contact with social networking”; “I’d like to see effort on maintaining and extending the community”; Thoroughly enjoyed participating – hope it continues in some form.”

In the feedback for this event there was a sense that further investment in the project would be very worthwhile, particularly in maintaining a framework or contact point around which the community can meet and grow. One delegate asked: “What infrastrucure/mechanisms are in place to sustain the cadre past the DREaM workshops?”

More networking at the Café Royal

More networking at the Café Royal

Some took the opportunity to provide comments on the set of three workshops as a whole on their workshop evaluation sheets, for example:

  • “I’ve really enjoyed my involvement in the DREaM workshops and benefited from them.”
  • “Coverage of research methods has been helpful, meaningful. Excellent opportunity to network.”
  • “I think this project has been extremely beneficial for LIS practitioners – thank you very much for all your hard work.”
  • “The only bad thing to come from DREaM is that I now have PhD envy.”

Of course, it’s only the workshop series that has ended. Many of the DREaM cadre will see one another again at the DREaM conference on 9th July at the British Library, and enjoy a full programme of activities including keynote speeches by Professor Carol Tenopir and Dr Ben Goldacre. Ben Goldacre will also present the Practitioner Researcher Excellence Award at the DREaM conference (for which we welcome nominations until next Monday 30th April).

To book your place at the conference, please see the conference registration page. A number of travel bursaries are available on a first come first served basis for full-time PhD students and new professionals based outside London. There is also an international travel award available to help a delegate with travel costs from beyond the UK.

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