EBLIP6 report: day 3, Thursday 30th June 2011

Our final EBLIP6 review is by Paolo Gardois, a PhD student at Sheffield University (@paologardois). Paolo reports on Thursday 30th June…

EBLIP6 tweeters and bloggers

Three of the LIS Research Coalition sponsored delegates eagerly await Thursday's keynote: Dr Katie Fraser, Katrina Dalziel & Paolo Gardois

Professor Hazel Hall opened the final day of EBLIP6 in Salford with a thought-provoking keynote speech on impact. Both patrons and managers demand services that really make a difference, and impact may take different forms: from changing users’ information behaviours to assessing academic impact through bibliometric measures, or evaluating services based on specific outcome measures, especially in the academic sector. Also, impact is very difficult to measure and evaluate. The impact of research on practice, for example, is often dependent on the cumulative and indirect effect of practitioners’ exposure to research output. Impact counts, anyway! In the current economic climate, research must demonstrate that it actually has an impact on practice, and the research–practice gap should be bridged, or at least reduced. Hazel then shared with the audience evidence emerging from the LIS Research Coalition’s RiLIES project which is due to report later this year. Several factors play a key role in increasing research uptake by practitioners: quality, scale and applicability of research itself; means of face-to-face dissemination; availability of accessible textual sources to be used as a reference in daily practice; high profile dissemination partners; and – last but not least – individuals who act as research connectors, as well as social media. Hazel finished her presentation by referring to the question “What difference does it make?” appropriately citing the Smiths, whose Salford Lads’ Club photograph is now one of the most iconic in British music history.

Later in the morning, parallel section 6 focused on a range of topics: (1) web-based services to enhance users’ experience of library services; (2) analysis of electronic resources usage by patrons as a key indicator of value generated by academic library services; (3) the development of evidence-based services in academic and health libraries, and their impact on quality improvement. As budgets shrink and patrons’ expectations rise, all three sessions offered really useful tools to improve service provision and demonstrate value for money.

The session before lunch showed an innovative and interactive format: the LIS Research Coalition organised a panel session involving LIS practitioners and journal editors.

Meet the editors

Panel members at the Meet the Editors session at EBLIP6: Professor Dick Hartley, Val Skelton, Dr Miggie Pickton, Denise Koufogiannakis, Dr Christine Urquhart

The session aimed to improve communication between the two parties and help information professionals plan the publication of their work with a better understanding of the goals and practical steps involved in editorial processes. For example, the editors advised the careful project-management of any potential publication, paying close attention to the information needs of the target journal’s audience, and not to underestimate the value of what professionals have to say to their colleagues and peers. Aiming for a high standard of work is important, but the editors encouraged members of the audience not to be obsessed with perfection: peer reviewers can help improve the quality of work submitted with their feedback. Importantly, the peer review process should be viewed as a dialogue during which both parties have a potential to learn. Also worth emphasising was the difference between research and practice-based articles: there are specific LIS journals for both categories. Even negative results, which are rarely published, are of great interest to audiences.

Poster explanation at EBLIP6

Dr Brian Detlor explains the content of his poster to Val Skelton

After a refreshing lunch and a final look at the posters (of amazing variety and really high quality), delegates were ready for the last two sessions of the conference. Parallel session 7 engaged the audience on a wide array of issues related to innovation and development of services, including the role of libraries in the management of scientific datasets, performance measurement techniques such as activities-based costing, methodological reflections on best practices and the uptake of an evidence-based approach in library services, and the available evidence base for evaluating the effectiveness of web 2.0 services. A specific session gauged the progress of evidence based practice in the health sector. Here topics included the value of services offered by NHS libraries, the efficient use of bibliographic databases and the impact of clinical librarianship on patient care and organizational objectives.

Then the time came for the closing address by Andrew Booth, who underlined the multidimensional and complex nature of “evidence-based library and information practice”. Virtually all the vocabulary used in the label can be discussed and modified, and the EBLIP6 conference had proved a valuable forum for the concepts to be discussed. Andrew also pondered the future of EBLIP. One key development resides in focusing less on research and randomised controlled trials and more on more on what really needs to be done to improve users’ experience in a really messy world. Andrew referred to the concept of “knowledge interaction”, which accounts for the need for genuine partnership between actors. Picking up on previous speakers’ references to music (keynotes Dr Ross Todd and Professor Hazel Hall had cited Bjork and the Smiths respectively) Andrew recited his own version of the lyrics of the Go-Go’s “My lips are sealed” to close the formal programme. Then awards were conferred and votes of thanks given. Mary Dunne was judged to have presented the best poster, and Kate Davies and Zaana Howard the best paper. Finally it was “Goodbye Salford” after a very interesting and stimulating three days.

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EBLIP6 report: day 1, Tuesday 28th June 2011

Dr Katie Fraser

Dr Katie Fraser

The second of our EBLIP6 reviews is by Dr Katie Fraser, Information Librarian, Leicester University (@katie_fraser. Over to Katie…

The day kicked off with a quick welcome from Tony Warne: Head of the School of Nursing at the University of Salford, talking about information literacy and the teacher-student relationship. He was followed by the first of the conference keynotes, Peter Brophy. Peter took us through the role of narrative in evidence-based practice, from the stories that our users tell about our information services, to its underlying importance in capturing the complexity of our own everyday practice. It was a great start to the day, and by the end of the session I’d already had a conversation on Twitter channel with an envious follower of the feed wishing that they were here!

I attended parallel sessions on academic libraries and information literacy, both everyday strands of my own work. Several of the talks picked up on Peter’s ideas about the complexity inherent in library work, particularly those talks focusing on assessment and the challenges of reducing complex information behaviours to a mark scheme! I’ll definitely be considering some of these ideas in my own teaching. However, my favourite talk looked outside the world of library instruction. Allyson Washburn and Sheila Bibb – who teaches an Applied Anthropology course – had asked anthropology students to conduct a series of ethnographic studies on student use of the library as coursework. It was fascinating to hear how the students had investigated the same topic from a variety of different angles, and there was also food for thought about the untapped opportunities academic librarians have to collaborate with departments in order to gather evidence: recruiting social scientists to help us gather evidence, computer scientists to develop our online services, and so on.

Former colleagues Jenny Craven and Peter Brophy catch up at coffee break

Former colleagues Jenny Craven and Professor Peter Brophy catch up at coffee break

The session I enjoyed most, however, was a little bit more outside my professional comfort zone, the post-lunch discussion on ‘Theory and Models of EBLIP’. I was hoping to get an overview of how researchers and practitioners saw evidence-based practice from this conference, and the talks complemented each other perfectly in answering this question. First Helen Partridge asked us to challenge what constitutes evidence in library and information practice. She suggested that most of our ideas about evidence-based practice were inherited, and that we need to consider what constitutes ‘good’ evidence in our own profession, and demonstrate that its use can transform practice. Denise Koufogiannakis followed this up with a discussion about the non-traditional types of evidence that library and information professionals use: ‘local evidence’, like user feedback, usage data and observations gained in context; and ‘professional knowledge’, which is often tacit (highly contextual and difficult to explain) or produced by reflection on our own practice. Finally, Barbara Sen and Chris Lee spoke about evidence and reflection. Both, they emphasised, are about critically examining everyday practice. Each uses a different approach to examine that practice, but in the end they’re highly complementary: no research could begin without reflection on potential explanations and approaches to studying a problem.

Overall, it’s interesting to hear that the library and information community is only just starting to reach an overview of how it sees and uses evidence-based practice itself. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how the EBLIP community views evidence – and attempts to handle its complexity within the profession – in the next couple of days.

Meet the Editors at EBLIP6 – session preview

The Sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) Conference takes place from June 27th until June 30th at the University of Salford. In a blog posting of March 30th 2011 we reported that the LIS Research Coalition is sponsoring part of the programme with a panel session entitled “Meet the editors” on Thursday 30th June. We are now pleased to introduce the panel members at the session and preview the discussion.

Denise KoufogiannakisDenise Koufogiannakis, Editor-in-Chief, Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

“I am the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, which is a relatively new open access journal. We publish quarterly, and have an extensive network of LIS volunteers from around the world who contribute to the journal’s success.

“I am looking forward to Chairing the Meet the Editors session at EBLIP6, and will attempt to ensure that no one editor takes over the conversation! All journals have different approaches, and so I am also looking forward to hearing about how the other LIS journals operate. I think we all have the same overarching goal of publishing articles that are useful to LIS professionals in order to improve practice and advance knowledge. I am looking forward to answering any questions about EBLIP, how we work through the process from submission to publication, how we operate without a budget, and the roles that each of our team members’ play. I would also like to help demystify the process of publishing, which may come across as scary for new authors.”

Miggie PicktonMiggie Pickton, Joint Editor, Library and Information Research

Library and Information Research covers a broad field and attracts submissions from all sectors and parts of the globe.  We are particularly keen to publish research that is accessible to, and usable by, the LIS community and to encourage new authors to write for publication.

“As a practitioner myself, I know that the day job is often so busy that the thought of “doing research” is just one extra chore.  As an editor, I know equally that where librarians have conducted research projects, they have derived enormous benefits at both personal and professional level.  Many of us conduct research on an everyday basis without seemingly recognising the fact: we do original and innovative things in our working lives but we don’t tell anybody about it.  I’d like to set the record straight!

Library and Information Research welcomes submissions from both practitioners and academics.  If you don’t have a paper in the pipeline just now, you may like to get involved as part of our team of peer reviewers. Alternatively, over the next few months we are hoping to appoint a new editorial team. Watch out for notices about this and please do consider applying.”

Dr Christine UrquhartChristine Urquhart, Editorial Board member, Journal of Documentation

“The editorial criteria for the Journal of Documentation are: “The Journal of Documentation has the unique perspective of focusing on theories, concepts, models, frameworks, and philosophies in the information sciences. The journal also publishes research reports, where these have wide significance, and articles on the methodology of research, information history, the information disciplines – including educational issues, curricula and links with other disciplines – and relations between academic study and professional practical. Critical and scholarly reviews are welcome, as are reviews of the evidence base for professional practice.”

“I am interested in how useful theories, concepts, models, frameworks and philosophies are to practitioner thinking about evidence-based practice. Which philosophical perspective – or view on the truth (if any) – is helpful and illuminating? In what respects is communication with people from different disciplinary backgrounds difficult?

“If delegates have a chance to scan some titles and abstracts of recent issues of the Journal of Documentation before the session, it would be interesting to know how the journal’s content provokes thought, provides different viewpoints, or may even seem totally out of touch with professional practice. These ideas would be helpful. We do, after all, require some evidence to justify our opinions!”

Dick HartleyDick Hartley, Editor, Education for Information

“We live in an increasingly demanding world of work, and a world where there is steady progress towards open access academic publishing. As an editor I would be interested to hear what potential authors think editors and publishers do well, what we do not do well, and what the community would like us to do.

“Presumably because of the pressures I referred to, and not least the demands of research assessment, I am finding it increasingly difficult to get referees who can turn around submissions rapidly. So I would be very interested in hearing from some volunteer referees!”

Val Skelton  Val Skelton, Editor, Europe e-news, Information Today; Joint Editor Business Information Review

Business Information Review (BIR) is a quarterly journal focused on information provision and management within organisations.

“Whilst many business information professionals and librarians are still involved with published information – its supply to the desktop, skills for users, research and analysis services – the range of professional activities has expanded. BIR seeks to provide insights across the full range of organizational information activities whilst retaining a keen interest in business information resources.

BIR content is written by information professionals, content, technology and service suppliers, academics and researchers, and leading thinkers from within and outside the information world. Its international readership and authorship covers the corporate sector, consultancies and law firms, publishers and information providers, government and other public institutions, academia, and the third sector.

“I look forward to a lively conversation about why people should consider writing for “formal” publication when there are so many alternative outlets, and (hopefully) to encouraging more people to write so that they can share experience and opinions. I will share some tips on how to become an editor’s favourite contributor!”