Breakout session 4
Professor Gunilla Widén, Professor of Information Studies, Åbo Akademi School of Business and Economics, Finland, discussed her experience of cultivating networks, helping participants to consider the opportunities and challenges.
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.
View this presentation on Slideshare.
The rapporteur for this session was Dr Susie Andretta from London Metropolitan University. She provided the following notes about the outcomes from this session around two key questions…
1. Why is there a gap between research and practice? Is collaboration and partnership the answer to address this gap?
Widén identified a number of problems with such partnerships from a practitioner perspective:
- Research is of little relevance to practice,
- Academia and library practice are two very different careers,
- There is a lack of funding,
- There is a top down ceiling on implementing research done by ‘novice’ practitioners,
- Research covered in LIS schools does not bear any relation to reality.
Widén noted that research is seen as a common trait between academics and practitioners, and also as a way of crossing information sectors. The group discussed leadership in LIS, which was highlighted as a possible route forward.
Widén commented that the gap between research and practice is not an issue in the Nordic countries, especially as most of the PhD students are primarily practitioners and therefore focus their research to address practical matters.
2. What makes a network that is no longer funded still alive?
Widén argued that we need to talk the same language, share the same goals/perspectives, and have a strong need for cooperation to overcome the obstacles. The discussion which followed highlighted the following points:
- Collaboration should be promoted in the light of more effective use of resources,
- There is an issue of leadership and focus – including the need for a coordinating role,
- There is a need for incentives to engage people,
- There is a need for a clear focus for the network to exist,
- Students/learners needs must be taken into account,
- There is a need to be patient, as research impact takes time.