DREaM event 1 – launch conference, Tuesday 19 July 2011

DREaM event 1 – launch conference, Tuesday 19 July 2011 – Out of the comfort zone

The DREaM project launch conference Out of the comfort zone took place at the British Library Conference Centre, London on Tuesday 19th July 2011. On this page you’ll find the key conference details including the programme.

To access the conference archive of session slides, videos and summaries please see the Event 1 presentations page. Reviews of the event can be found on the DREaM launch conference reviews page.

The Lanyrd page at: http://lanyrd.com/2011/lis-dream1 lists a number (but not all) of the delegates. There is also a Twitter list of DREaM project participants.


Key conference details


Out of the comfort zone

This one-day conference on Tuesday 19th July 2011 focused on means of extending the comfort zone of LIS researchers. The programme was designed to appeal to all with an interest in LIS research including PhD students, established practitioners and academics, as well as the wider LIS research community, such as publishers. With first-hand access to expert speakers and peers on the day, and opportunities for active participation in the programme in the one minute madness and breakout sessions, delegates developed their understanding of how to extend their LIS research practice, for example with reference to:

  • deploying research methods and techniques not traditionally associated with LIS research
  • exporting LIS research practice into other domains
  • collaborating with others across subject and geographic boundaries
  • disseminating research findings beyond local/institutional audiences
  • seeking inspiration for furthering LIS research by importing ideas from a range of other disciplines

The LIS research community was invited to come to London on Tuesday 19th July to join the debate and learn about how to extend LIS research practice beyond its traditional boundaries, and to contribute to the building of the DREaM project researcher community.

The programme

The conference format included keynote presentations and break-out sessions, with further opportunities for delegates to participate actively in the discussions on the day. Our speakers, facilitators and chairs offered research experience and perspectives across a range of library and information science sectors. We were particularly pleased to welcome contributions from researchers from other disciplines: behavioural scientist Dr Dylan Evans of University College Cork gave the closing keynote presentation, and biomedical researcher Professor Sara Rankin of Imperial College led a breakout session with artist Gina Czarnecki. For details of the contributors to the DREaM events please see the DREaM project contributors page.

Conference sessions

09:45-10:30 Registration and coffee/tea
10:30-11:00 Welcome and introduction – review of the DREaM project to date, and plans for four further events in 2011/12
Professor Hazel Hall, Edinburgh Napier University and the LIS Research Coalition
11:00-12:00 Opening keynote: “… And into the zone of quasi-rationality”
Professor Blaise Cronin, Rudy Professor of Information Science, Indiana University, US, chaired by Professor Charles Oppenheim, DREaM project, LIS Research Coalition.


In his keynote presentation Professor Cronin provided a brief historical overview of LIS research before critically reviewing competence and practice in the field. He identified a number of deficiencies, including lack of cumulation, “narcissism of minor differences,” false antinomies, failure to scale, and redundancy. At the same time, he highlighted several trends that may (or may not) be seen as having potentially positive downstream effects: growth in the number of faculty from disciplines other than LIS populating LIS departments, increasing rigour and diversity of LIS research programs, quantifiable growth in the export of ideas from LIS to other disciplines, greater receptivity of LIS research to outsider literature. He considered social media both as a means of fostering research collaboration and as a subject warranting significant research attention in its own right. He concluded by considering a few domains in which LIS researchers may be able to establish a stronger presence.

12:00-12:30 One minute madness session: presentations by conference delegates

This was the delegates’ chance to share their experience of stepping out of their own research comfort zone with everyone else in a plenary session. Those signed up for a slot related to the audience how they have explored the use of research methods from other disciplines, worked on research projects with others with a completely different research backgrounds, applied LIS research techniques to new research areas, discovered new ways to disseminate their work, or found a new network of relevance to their research efforts. Some took the opportunity of a slot in this session to put out a call to invite others to join them as they take their first steps out of the comfort zone. This session was chaired by Stella Wisdom, British Library.

There is further information on the session format on the One minute madness page from the 2010 LIS Research Coalition conference.

12:30-13:30 Lunch and networking
13:30-15:00 (including tea break) Breakout session 1: Raising your research dissemination ambitions led by Dr Philip Hills, editor International Journal of Information Management.
Rapporteur: Dr Rossitza Atanassova, British Library

This session comprised guided discussions and an interactive exercise designed to encourage participants to consider strategies for widening the audience for their research findings. Those with ambitions to publish their work beyond their natural comfort zone, for example by submitting article manuscripts to international, peer-reviewed journals, learnt here how to develop and target their work for acceptance.

13:30-15:00 (including tea break) Breakout session 2: Extending your research methods repertoire led by Professor Julie McLeod, Professor of Records Management at Northumbria University and Elizabeth Lomas, PhD research student, Northumbria University.
Rapporteur: Silvia Anton, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council

This session explored less well-used methods for conducting research in the library and information science discipline such as Delphi studies, co-operative inquiry, and community consultation. It drew upon real practical case examples of research undertaken at Northumbria University which have deployed such methods, and/or used novel combinations of more established methods. Novel approaches to disseminating research were also covered. The session included activities and discussion of the advantages and drawbacks of using particular methods for particular scenarios and research topics.

13:30-15:00 (including tea break) Breakout session 3: Stepping out of the comfort zone by collaborating across disciplines led by Professor Sara Rankin, Professor of Leukocyte and Stem Cell Biology at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London and Gina Czarnecki, artist.
Rapporteur: Dr Michael Jubb, Research Information Network

This session demonstrated how unlikely cross-disciplinary collaborations can generate exciting and unexpected outcomes, and prompt delegates to consider where they might seek similar experiences. Biomedical researcher Rankin explained how her public engagement activities have transformed her professional identity, widened her professional network and informed her scientific research. Artist Czarnecki discussed how her interactions and collaborations with a number of scientists and healthcare workers has enriched her practice. Together the breakout session leaders talked about their current collaboration (see coverage of some of this work on the BBC web site). Reflecting on Rankin and Czarnecki’s experiences, delegates considered the notion of “deep” collaboration through the two-way process of mutual influence, and the nature of “real” public engagement that runs throughout research, development and production, where public engagement can shape research and outcomes.

13:30-15:00 (including tea break) Breakout session 4: Cultivating networks: opportunities and challenges led by Professor Gunilla Widén, Professor of Information Studies, Åbo Akademi School of Business and Economics, Finland.
Rapporteur: Dr Susie Andretta, London Metropolitan University

Drawing on the Nordic experience, where networking across geographic boundaries is a necessity and well within the comfort zone, this session explored a range of collaborative networks for the LIS field: for researchers, doctoral students, work and study exchanges, and communities of practice interested in particular topics such as information literacy. Discussion of the various models and an interactive exercise highlighted the opportunities and challenges of network initiatives. As well as providing the opportunity for individuals to consider their own networking practice, it is hoped that the outcomes of this session will inform the development of the DREaM network for the duration of the project and beyond.

15:00-15:30 Report of key messages from breakouts in plenary
Breakout rapporteurs Dr Rossitza Atanassova, Silvia Anton, Dr Michael Jubb and Dr Susie Andretta related outcomes from the breakout sessions, chaired by Biddy Fisher
15:30-16:15 Closing keynote: The promiscuous researcher: flirting across disciplines and courting the media
Dr Dylan Evans, Lecturer in Behavioural Science, University College Cork, chaired by Professor Charles Oppenheim, DREaM project, LIS Research Coalition.


Some researchers stay faithful to one discipline, but Evans argued that variety is the spice of love. He’s been seduced by a variety of subjects during his academic career, from linguistics and psychoanalysis to robotics and philosophy, but he’s never settled down with any of them. Some people think he has a commitment problem, but Evans believes that commitment is a problem in itself. Monogamy is like reading the same book over and over again. In this keynote presentation he told the story of some of his research relationships, and explained the thread that links the apparently disparate disciplines with which he has fallen in love, and why he eventually got divorced. Along the way Evans has also enjoyed relations with the media. This has brought censure from some straight-laced and – he claims – most likely jealous colleagues.

The venue

The conference venue was the British Library’s state of the art Conference Centre. Located in central London, the British Library Conference Centre is within easy walking distance of three mainline railway stations – St Pancras (Eurostar terminal), Euston and King’s Cross – and six tube lines, and is thus at the heart of the UK and European transportation network.

Programme committee

The conference programme was developed by the DREaM project Principal and Co-investigators Professor Hazel Hall and Professor Charles Oppenheim. They were supported by members of the DREaM project advisory board: Dr Susie Andretta (formerly of London Metropolitan University), Silvia Anton (formerly of MLA), Dr Rossitza Atanassova (British Library), Dr Michael Jubb (Research Information Network), Stephanie Kenna (LIS Research Coalition) and Professor Gunilla Widén (Åbo Akademi School of Business and Economics, Finland). Jenny Gebel provided administrative support as an intern in summer 2011.

Conference Secretariat

Edinburgh Napier University, holder of the AHRC grant for the DREaM project, provided the secretariat for the DREaM project events.

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