DREaM and RiLIES project papers well-received at QQML

QQML conference

QQML conference materials

We’re pleased to report that both our papers delivered yesterday at the 4th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries in Limerick, Republic of Ireland, went well.

The paper on the DREaM project co-authored by Alison Brettle, Hazel Hall and Charles Oppenheim and presented by Alison as the last paper in the final session of the evening (18:30-20:00) was particularly well-received. Its content prompted several questions and much discussion amongst the conference delegates and led Hazel to suggest that perhaps she and Charles should set up a DREaM franchise overseas! We believe that the delivery of the paper by a participant in the DREaM project – rather than the co-investigators – lent authenticity to the messages it conveyed, and we are particularly grateful that Alison was willing to give up time both to develop the slides and travel all the way to Ireland for the conference.

This paper has helped us to disseminate information on the operation of the DREaM project, as well as raised awareness of all the resources to help support LIS researchers that we have assembled over the past year or so. Clearly the more people that can make use of these resources (particularly those from the workshops), the more valuable they become.

There is already evidence of our DREaM paper’s impact: there have been a number of new membership requests for the DREaM online community (open to anyone interested in LIS research), a surge of hits to the DREaM project pages on the LIS Research Coalition web site, and viewings of the presentation slides themselves on SlideShare (270 within 24 hours of the delivery of the paper). We’re also hopeful that some of those who attended the presentation – or heard about it – will be encouraged to come to the DREaM conference at the British Library on Monday July 9th.

Alison tweets

Alison Brettle (@BrettleAli), seated next to Alvin Schrader, was one of the top tweeters at QQML on Tuesday

Earlier in the day Hazel Hall delivered the paper she co-authored with Peter Cruickshank and Ella Taylor-Smith on the RiLIES project. It fitted nicely with two other papers in the same session: one by Dian Walster that considered how much “theory” there is in librarianship research, and another on impact measurement presented by Alvin Schrader. Unfortunately time was very tight in this session and there was no time for questions or discussion in the conference room. However, a number of delegates spoke privately with Hazel afterwards and showed interest in both phases of the RiLIES project. Hazel’s presentation on SlideShare has also attracted much attention since it was delivered in Limerick, with 244 viewings to date.

The conference itself continues until the end of the week and can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #qqml.

We have a DREaM – the Developing Research Excellence & Methods network: presentation at QQML2012

Our second paper at QQML 2012 this week is entitled “We have a DREaM: the Developing Research Excellence & Methods network”. The paper is co-authored by DREaM cadre member Dr Alison Brettle, and the DREaM project co-investigators Professor Hazel Hall and Professor Charles Oppenheim. The abstract and link to slides for the paper are given below.

We will also use this opportunity to promote the forthcoming DREaM conference on Monday 9th July at the British Library in London, and highlight the availability of bursary places for PhD, new professional and international delegates. (The deadline for the international travel bursary is Wednesday 30th May. The bursaries for PhD students are awarded on a “first come first served” basis when eligible individuals book their conference place through the online registration process.)

Abstract: We have a DREaM – the Developing Research Excellence & Methods network

This paper reports on UK efforts to support the building of the library and information science (LIS) evidence base through the work of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project. The broad aim of this project is to develop a formal UK-wide network of LIS researchers. The grant is held by Edinburgh Napier University and the work is supported by the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition.

The project began in January 2011 and runs until August 2012. It focuses on bringing together those with an interest in developing LIS research at five UK events: two conferences (one at the start, and one at the end of the project) and a set of three linked workshops. These explore the scope of LIS and related research, the range of methods appropriate to research in the domain, and their strengths and weaknesses. Contributors include both methods experts from LIS, as well as experts from other subject domains, who explore and evaluate with participants a wide range of techniques that go beyond the standard qualitative and quantitative methods commonly deployed in LIS research. The participants, i.e., the members of the DREaM network itself, come from the full spectrum of LIS sectors, and hold roles at all career stages from student to senior management.

Brettle is a participant in the DREaM network, and Hall and Oppenheim are the project co-investigators. Drawing on their respective experiences in these roles, and based on an analysis of data collected from network members, the presenters will evaluate the project to date. This evaluation will cover its impact on participants and their relationship with research. It will also consider the value of the unique project approach that includes, for example, heavy reliance on event amplification to widen participation in the project beyond the delegates in situ, interactive sessions with network members, and the use of methods experts to share knowledge from domains external to LIS.

This paper is of direct relevance to the conference theme of methodologies for building the evidence base in library and information services. It also raises important issues related to advocacy, networking and influencing. Conference delegates who are interested in developing research capacity or expanding the LIS evidence base will be keen to learn of the UK experience.

Presentation slides

The slides for this presentation are available on SlideShare.

RiLIES poll – summary of initial findings

As part of the RiLIES project we have just carried out a short initial survey on how LIS professionals find out about research project findings.
We hoped to identify (1) the sources that are used by librarians to generate ideas for improvements in library services delivery and (2) any named LIS research projects that have been particularly influential in inspiring changes to practice.

If you took part, we’d like to start by saying thank you!

Here we share some of the results. Please bear in mind, however, that this is a self-selected and relatively small sample so the results cannot be considered to be statistically significant. Instead, we are using the findings to help direct further activities of the project.

Overall, 200 people took the time to complete the poll. Of these 175 have over 5 years experience, 173 are UK-based, and 155 describe themselves holding front-line or managerial roles. So we are pleased to have reached our core target demographic for the poll. However, although we had very good response from academic and health librarians, as the pie chart below shows, the number of public librarians who took part was disappointing. We’re now looking at other options for reaching this important librarian population.

Some findings

Even in this age of social media and e-books, face-to-face contacts (particularly informal networking) are still the key route to learning about new research results.

Even online, ‘traditional’ JISC discussion lists are considered as most useful (even more so amongst managerial and health-sector respondents). In fact they are reported as the leading alternative to face-to-face contact. As far as social media is concerned, practitioner blogs are popular, and in contrast, there is an emphatic lack of interest in virtual reading groups on platforms such as Second Life.

Twitter divided people. A significant number of academic librarian respondents, in particular, reported use of Twitter to both find out about, and report on, research projects. As would be expected, people who use Twitter are also more enthusiastic about it as a source of information. On the other hand, a significant number said that Twitter is blocked by their workplace. This is an issue within the healthcare and government sectors in particular.

Over half the respondents have used mailing lists in their own research work. Conference papers are the most popular route for reporting findings. Academic librarians dominate the more resource-intensive areas of creating peer-reviewed conference papers and writing research project reports. Our relatively high level of activity may, however, simply demonstrate that our poll attracted a more research-active demographic.

Offline, research reports and reading of (printed) news reports in journals are reported as being most useful.

The two graphs below summarise the popularity of sources of information as reported by the academic librarians:

… and healthcare librarians:

Please bear in mind, however, that the limitations of the poll data mean that we cannot do any more than note the variation in sources of information (and this is why we felt that a graph totalling up all the responses would be inappropriate at this stage).

One of the points of this poll was to draw on librarians’ collective inspiration to identify any gaps in our questions, and we were not disappointed! In particular, responses highlighted:

  • The role of professional bodies in networking professionals together.
  • The important role played by intermediaries (such as trainers) in turning research findings into useful information: consultants, trainers, conference speakers etc. and associated artefacts such as books/monographs or training course serve as intermediaries research results to practitioners, even if they are not strictly research-intensive in their own right.
  • The importance of a small number of individuals as information sources, in particular Andrew Booth, Alison Brettle, Phil Bradley, and the LIS Research Coalition’s Hazel Hall.
  • The use of RSS feeds for following multiple sources of information.

Next steps…

The results will contribute to the broad project aim of exploring the extent to which funded librarianship research projects influence library practice.

We have been able to identify some projects which we could potentially use in the case study phase of our work. Also, the results give a direction to potential focus group questions, and who we should involve in our future data collection exercises. For instance, the low number of public librarian contributions at this stage mean that we will have to find other ways to identify their needs and activities.

Finally – 64 people have said they would take part in future research – thank you! We may be in touch later on.

Hazel Hall and Peter Cruickshank