RiLIES project: update on data collection activities

Work continues on the RiLIES project, in which we are exploring the extent to which funded librarianship research projects influence library practice in the UK. Of particular interest are the factors that increase or hinder the impact of project outcomes on practice. We have now reached the stage of gathering data and experiences from the perspectives of (1) LIS project researchers, and (2) practitioners.

The project perspective: Case studies

We have selected six research projects which reported in the last 10 years to act as case studies for further investigation. We’ve aimed to cover a range of project size and sector, including academic, medical/health, and public libraries. We are now in the process of gathering detailed data based on questionnaires supported by telephone interviews, with specific questions for each of the case study projects. At the same time, we are planning to carry out a citation analysis to understand further the impact of the outputs of these projects on the wider community of researchers and practitioners.

As well as looking at the supply of information from research projects, we are also looking at the factors behind the demand (or lack of it) for research project findings from practitioners in different areas.

The practitioner perspective: Focus groups

We realise that is essential to understand practitioners’ experiences of research, and are planning a series of focus groups where we can explore how they access research results. We have identified three conferences and meetings in the near future which will allow us to work with specific key practitioner groups identified from our initial survey. They are:

  • Public Librarians: through Slainte (which combines the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and the CILIP Scotland (CILIPS)) on Thursday 2nd June in Perth
  • Academic Librarians: University College & Research Group meeting – at Regent’s College London on Monday 20th June
  • Healthcare librarians: At EBLIP6 in Salford on Tuesday 28th June.

The focus groups will be facilitated by Ella Taylor-Smith and Peter Cruickshank, assisted by our intern Jenny Gebel. Hazel Hall will also be at two of the sessions.

In terms of practical outcomes, it is already apparent that some LIS professionals, such as medical/health librarians, have more experience of using research outcomes to inform practice, both in supporting their customers (clinicians), and also in their own work. It is also possible that that outside academia and medical/health librarianship, practitioners generally absorb research findings indirectly from a number of sources including books, blogs and well-known practitioners, or through training courses and conferences.

The focus groups will help us to understand how researchers can best to work with practitioners’ actual patterns of work and learning. We are also aiming to find some examples how practitioners have successfully used research projects to help in their work.

About Peter Cruickshank
Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.

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