DREaM event 2 speaker insight: Professor Andy McKinlay

Professor Andy McKinlay

Professor Andy McKinlay

In the second in our series of preview posts ahead of the LIS DREaM2 workshop, Professor Andy McKinlay discusses some of the issues he will be covering in his workshop session An Introduction to Discourse Analysis. He explains what this research technique involves, how he has applied it in his own work and why he feels it will be of benefit to the other LIS researchers attending the workshop.

Professor Andy McKinlay is head of the school of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

What research techniques will you be discussing with the workshop participants?

I will be exploring with colleagues the ways in which one particular form of qualitative research – discourse analysis – can be employed in LIS research. The essence of discourse analysis is to examine the fine grain details of spoken and written discourse to develop an understanding of how people accomplish social actions in discourse. This includes understanding how people ‘socially construct’ versions of people, actions and events.

How have you applied these techniques in your own research?

Across a number of years I have been interested in understanding how people use discourse to socially construct their own identities and the identities of other people. How, in other words, people use text and talk to create a sense of who they are and also to create a sense of who other people are. One element of my research has focused on how people use discourse in this way to avoid, or deal with, becoming the targets of prejudice.

How do you think these techniques might be relevant to LIS researchers?

First, LIS researchers can use discourse analysis to understand how LIS functions as one of a set of socially-embedded structures and practices: How do LIS professionals view LIS? How do other ‘stakeholders’ such as funders and users understand LIS? How do people make sense of the complex societal relationships that exist between LIS and other aspects of society, e.g. what do they see as the relationship between the library and the community? Are there broader ideologies in society that conditions the way that LIS functions?

Second, LIS involves people: LIS professionals, user groups, and different groups of other relevant people such as related professionals, colleagues within the broader work environment, those involved in regulatory activities, or those involved in funding. In what ways does the LIS professional create an understanding of what these people are like? And how do these people create a sense of what the LIS professional is like? How do these viewpoints interact (or even collide)? What are the social action outcomes of people viewing each other in these ways? These are questions that can be pursued using discourse analysis.

Where can people will find more information?

People might want to pursue these themes by looking at the text I co-wrote with Professor Chris McVittie: McKinlay, A. & McVittie, C. (2008). Social psychology and discourse. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Another useful text is: Tuffin, K. (2005). Understanding critical social psychology. London: Sage.

For full details about the workshop, please see the workshop programme.

DREaM event 2 speaker insight: Dr Louise Cooke

Dr Louise Cooke

Dr Louise Cooke

We are now only a week away from the first LIS DREaM workshop, which will be held in Edinburgh next Tuesday.

In the first of our series of preview posts ahead of the workshop, Dr Louise Cooke gives us a taste of what she intends to cover in her session, in which she will be introducing the participants to social network analysis. She explains why she feels this technique can be of value to LIS researchers and provides a really useful reading list so you can find out more about the issues involved.

Dr Louise Cooke is a Senior Lecturer at Loughborough University, where she teaches the MSc Information and Knowledge Management programme.

What research techniques will you be discussing with the workshop participants?

I will be discussing the potential uses of Social Network Analysis (SNA) in LIS research. SNA is a research technique that focuses on investigating the relationships between entities (e.g. who communicates with whom?), rather than the properties of the entities themselves. We will be doing a practical exercise using UCINET software which will investigate the research links between workshop participants.

How have you applied these techniques in your own research?

I have carried out a relatively simple SNA project, similar to that which we will be undertaking at the DREaM workshop. This analysed research networks between LIS PhD students at Sheffield University and at Loughborough University. I have also supervised MSc students using SNA for their dissertation research. In one case, for example, the student analysed information and knowledge flows in an academic department at Kyambogo University in Uganda. I am also currently supervising a PhD student who plans to use SNA as one element of his research strategy: his overall research project focuses on knowledge management (KM) in organisations.

How do you think these techniques might be relevant to LIS researchers?

SNA is particularly useful in the field of KM. It is increasingly being used by researchers and business consultants to analyse patterns of information and knowledge flow in organisations. In particular, it enables the identification of individuals playing important structural roles in the knowledge network, for example as bottleneck or gatekeeper; peripheral; central connector; boundary spanner etc. It also enables sub-groups, such as cliques, to be identified. Importantly, this enables organisations to make interventions that improve the overall knowledge flow. SNA is also useful to LIS researchers with regard to the exploration of patterns of online communication, for example, within online communities, and is the underpinning theory on which citation analysis is based.

Where can people will find more information?

The most useful (and accessible) text for me has been that by Cross & Parker, The Hidden Power of Social Networks, published by the Harvard Business School in 2004.

A very useful free resource is the introductory handbook written by Robert Hanneman (University of California) and Mark Riddle (University of Northern Colorado) . It is a good starting point if you plan to use UCINET software for SNA.

For an understanding of the potential uses of SNA the paper by Otto and Rousseau would be a good place to start: Otte, E & Rousseau, R (2002) SNA: a powerful strategy, also for the information sciences. Journal of Information Science, 28 (6) 441-453.

Finally, if you are really serious about gaining expertise in the techniques of SNA, I would recommend attending the University of Essex Summer School in Social Science Data Analysis course in SNA – I did this myself, and found it immensely useful.

Dr Cooke will be presenting her session Introduction to social network analysis and will also introduce the workshop 1 game/task. For full details about the workshop, please see the workshop programme.

Congratulations to the six winners of the DREaM workshop travel bursary award

Winners of the DREaM workshop travel bursaries

L to R: Aislinn Conway, Katie Fraser, Paula Goodale, Paul Gooding, Lauren Smith, Sara Wingate Gray

We are pleased to announce the names of the six PhD students and new professionals who have won bursaries of up to £150 to help support their participation in the DREaM workshops and the DREaM project network. They are:

  • Aislinn Conway, a new professional who works for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust as a Clinical Evidence Based Information Service Specialist.
  • Dr Katie Fraser, a new professional who works for the University of Leicester as an Information Librarian. (To find out more about Katie see her blog Chuukaku).
  • Paula Goodale, a PhD student at Sheffield University, working on a thesis entitled Constructing personal narratives through pathways in cultural heritage collections online. (Paula has recently started a blog entitled Allpathsleadto.)
  • Paul Gooding, a PhD student at University College London, working on a thesis entitled What is the Impact of a Million Books?
  • Lauren Smith, a new professional who currently works as a learning and teaching support officer at the University of Leeds, and will soon be embarking on a PhD at Strathclyde University. (To find out more about Lauren see her blog Walk you home.)
  • Sara Wingate Gray, PhD student at University College London, working on a thesis entitled The anthropology of the public library. (To find out more about Sara see her web site at Sarawingategray.co.uk.)

In their applications each winner gave an excellent account as to why the award of a bursary to him/her in particular will help the DREaM project meet its goal of developing a UK-wide network of LIS researchers. In exchange for the award, the winners will write reports of the workshops. These will be communicated to a wider audience from this web site. The content of the reports will also discussed further amongst members of the DREaM project online community.

The first DREaM project workshop takes place in Edinburgh on Tuesday 25th October 2011. Online registration for the set of three workshops (Edinburgh 25 October, London 30th January, Edinburgh 25th April) is still open. If you would like a place, please hurry: there are only a couple left, and we will be closing registrations soon.

Registrations open for the DREaM project workshops

Registrations are open for the three DREaM project workshops (as a set). These take place at:

  • Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh on Tuesday 25th October 2011 (full details available);
  • the British Library in London on Monday 30th January 2012;
  • Edinburgh Napier University in Edinburgh on Wednesday 25th April 2012.

There is no charge to attend these events.

If you are a PhD student or a new professional (someone who has joined the profession since 2007), you are also eligible to apply for one of six travel bursaries of up to £150. These are offered to help support participation in the workshops and the DREaM network. Please note your eligibility to apply for a bursary when you register online, and we will send you the application details. The closing date for bursary applications will be Tuesday 4th October so please ensure that you register before this date so that there is time for us to send you the details on how to apply.

To secure a place at the workshops please register here. Your registration will be confirmed by e-mail by the system.

(If you are unsure as to whether or not your registration has been successful, please contact Hazel Hall to check. Thank you.)

DREaM workshop series news

Following the success of the DREaM project launch conference the project team has been working on the workshop programme and keeping details of those who intend to register for the set of three workshops. Registrations for the workshops will open soon. In the meantime we are asking anyone who would like to pre-register to contact Hazel Hall. We would also be pleased to welcome those who share the interests of other members of the DREaM network to join the DREaM project online community.

DREaM project launch conference materials now all online

We’re pleased to tell you that all the resources from last week’s DREaM project launch conference are now available. Please follow the links below for:

DREaM launch conference review, thanks and resources

DREaM project launch delegate folders and data sticks

DREaM project launch conference delegate folders, pens and data sticks

Thanks to everyone for their participation at the DREaM project launch conference last Tuesday 19th July.

We have now had a chance to analyse the conference evaluation forms and – along with feedback received by e-mail and over Twitter over the past few days, as well as conference reviews blogged by delegates – we are pleased to report that it was a successful day.

According to the 46 conference evaluation forms returned, amongst the most popular sessions was Hazel Hall’s introduction, rated by the majority of evaluations as “excellent”. Hazel Hall brought delegates up to date on the progress of the DREaM project with news of the forthcoming workshops, including the full programme for workshop 1 on Tuesday 25th October 2011 in Edinburgh. She also announced the Practitioner Research Excellence Award (details can be found on the Media releases page) to be presented by the LIS Research Coalition at the final DREaM project event on Monday 9th July 2012. She encouraged delegates to take a look at the new online community space that has been set up to encourage electronic networking amongst delegates between events.

Stephanie Kenna and Jenny Gebel at the registration desk

Stephanie Kenna and Jenny Gebel at the registration desk

Blaise Cronin’s opening keynote and Dylan Evans’ closing keynote were also were rated by the majority of evaluations as “excellent”. Delegates appreciated Cronin’s main message to look outside the immediate field for opportunities to develop research ideas, to collaborate, research and to influence. They were able to observe such an approach in action in the career trajectory of Evans, who has taken advantage of a number of links and serendipity to build a varied and interesting, if unconventional, career path.

It seemed entirely appropriate that, further to a request made to Hazel Hall by a student from outside the field of LIS, at the end of the day that delegates were invited to contribute to a research project on interactivity in research meeting design. (If you would like to contribute to this project, please complete the survey).

DREaM delegates chat beside the publishers' stands

DREaM delegates chat beside the publishers' stands

Most evaluations gave the One Minute Madness session “excellent” and “very good” ratings. Chair of the session Stella Wisdom hardly had an opportunity to blow the horn due to the excellent timing of the presenters. It was quite astonishing how much information was conveyed in the 60 second bursts. The impressed audience members tweeted encouraging and supportive comments on the session, for example: “Loving 1 minute madness. So much brilliant work esp on stories & narratives” (@bikerbid); “One minute madness was great – well done to all who took part” (@BLLizLewis). Check out the 15 minute video of the session to witness the high standard of the presentations.

Discussions in breakout session 2

Discussions in breakout session 2

The four breakout sessions were also mostly evaluated as “excellent” or “very good”. Delegate comments on the breakouts revealed how the session content had given them some useful ideas to follow up after the event. For those who attended breakout session 3 these ideas derived from a discussion of work which is well beyond the usual interests of librarians and information scientists. As one delegate tweeted “They are building a palace made of children’s milk teeth. This is not what I thought I would learn about today!” (@samanthahalf). The short time-frame for reporting back on the breakouts meant that there was no real opportunity for discussion in plenary (rated mostly “good”). Although this had been possible amongst groups and with individuals in the breakouts themselves and over tea, from the analysis of the evaluation forms it can be seen that delegates would have liked there to have been more time for discussion of the breakout outcomes. There is also an indication that the opportunity to attend more than one breakout session would have been appreciated by some delegates.

Paul Allchin lent a hand with the delegate packs as a member of the on-site team at the British Library

Paul Allchin lent a hand with the delegate packs as a member of the on-site team at the British Library

The convenience of the British Library Conference Centre (described as “lovely” by one delegate), its facilities and the catering attracted mainly “excellent” ratings, as did conference administration both before and during the event. Hazel Hall, Charles Oppenheim and Jenny Gebel particularly appreciated the positive comments from delegates on the organisation of the event, and would like to highlight here the great help of colleagues in the British Library in the conference preparations. Rossitza Atanassova did a fine job in her liaison role, and recruited a willing team of Paul Allchin, Liz Lewis and Adrian Shindler, who helped Hazel Hall and Jenny Gebel make the delegate packs and load the DREaM USB sticks with all the conference materials on Monday 18th July.

The DREaM project launch conference Twitter wall

The DREaM project launch conference Twitter wall

Although not specifically asked to comment on networking on the conference evaluation form, this theme attracted a large number of unsolicited positive remarks. One delegate commented that the involvement of delegates before the event was “outstanding”. It is thanks to Bethan Ruddock (@bethanar) that a number of delegates in London on the evening of Monday 18th July were able to meet up before the conference itself the next day. Equally the work of our event amplifier Kirsty Pitkin (@eventamplifier) made it possible for the networking to extend beyond the confines of the British Library. Our remote delegates had access to all the presentations as they were delivered, as well as the CoverItLive session where a commentary on the proceedings and tweets were brought together. Delegates also made favourable comments about the interesting mix of researchers and practitioners who had registered, and the value of new contacts to follow up in the future. 68 people tweeted the #lis_dream1 hashtag over the course of the day. The 615 tweets included contributions from delegates at the British Library and a number of remote participants who offered their views on the conference sessions and the comments of on-site delegates. There is a Twapper Keeper for the #lis_dream1 hashtag where all instances #lis_dream1 are recorded.


Badges for the data geeks and data queens at the DREaM launch conference

When asked to rate the overall value of the conference “excellent” was, once more, the most popular response. Delegates offered congratulations to the DREaM project team, remarking how impressed they were with the day and how much they had enjoyed it, not least for the “incredibly insightful” presentations, “excellent speakers”, “interesting topic areas”, all the new ideas “to take away and develop” and the networking opportunities. One delegate said “[It has been a] really useful day. Let us take steps to assure a network of LIS researchers and practitioners for the future as research and practitioners should ideally feed into each other”. While the rest of the UK was focused on James and Rupert Murdoch testifying at the parliamentary committee, Simon Barron tweeted “Forget the Murdochs. The real talking point today is library science research”! (@SimonXIX)

Events such as this only come together with much effort and support from a variety of sources. Everyone involved in the DREaM project is grateful for the support offered by the AHRC as its main source of funding. We are also grateful to the recruitment firms who sponsored places for five new professional delegates. We were pleased that three publishers Ashgate, Facet and Oxford University Press were able to join us on the day and for their contributions to the delegate packs. The “data geek” and “data queen” badges supplied by Leadership Directories were particularly popular with the delegates (and, we expect, their colleagues and children at home too!)

We have almost finished uploading all the resources from the day to the event 1 presentations page, and these will soon also be added to the DREaM online community site. A further announcement will be made once everything is online. If you are interested in delegate reviews of the event, a number are already available, and some are expected shortly. Please see the DREaM launch conference reviews page to read review blog posts, videos of delegate and session leader perspectives on the day, links to archived social media activity, and photographs from the conference.

DREaM launch conference speaker insight 3: Julie McLeod and Elizabeth Lomas

Julie McLeod

Professor Julie McLeod

Elizabeth Lomas

Elizabeth Lomas

In the third of our series of DREaM Project Launch Conference speaker insights, we catch up with Professor Julie McLeod and Elizabeth Lomas to get their perspective on the forthcoming event.

Professor Julie McLeod is the Professor of Records Management at Northumbria University.

Elizabeth Lomas is a PhD research student at Northumbria University.

They responded jointly to our questions to explain their hopes and dreams for the DREaM conference and the project as a whole…

What is your interest in the DREaM project and why are you participating in the launch event?

Reliable and accessible information, managed over time, is at the heart of a healthy society. Effective information management supports the well-being of individuals and organisations. It is therefore important that we keep progressing research within LIS and DREaM is a unique initiative bringing together pioneering research methods within the information domain.

What do you hope to achieve through your breakout session?

Northumbria University’s Information Management Innovation Research Group has pioneered the use of a range of cutting edge research methods in novel ways. We hope to showcase this, receive feedback on some of our ideas and encourage others to be innovative in the way they approach LIS research.

What are your hopes for the conference as a whole?

We hope to hear from leading researchers in the LIS field about their visions for the 21st century LIS research agenda and how we can exploit interdisciplinary research methods and technologies to do different research, do it differently and make a difference.

What are your hopes for the DREaM project as it gets underway?

That it can pioneer and showcase UK information research and develop new networks for future research.

Professor McLeod and Elizabeth Lomas will be leading a breakout session titled: “Extending your research methods repertoire”, in which they will explore less well-used methods for conducting research in the library and information science discipline, drawing upon real practical case examples of research undertaken at Northumbria University.

For further details about this session, please see the full conference programme.

DREaM launch conference speaker insight 2: Dr Dylan Evans

Dylan EvansIn the second of our DREaM Launch Conference speaker insights, we speak with Dr Dylan Evans, who will be presenting our closing keynote. In this interview, he shares his enthusiasm for the project, and why he believes LIS research is “sexy”.

Dr Dylan Evans is a Lecturer in Behavioural Science at University College Cork. However, he’s been seduced by a variety of subjects during his academic career, from linguistics and psychoanalysis to robotics and philosophy.

What is your interest in the DREaM project and why are you participating in the launch event?

I am a huge fan of interdisciplinary work and love collaborating with people from other disciplines. I think LIS researchers are ideally placed to facilitate such collaboration with others across subject and geographical boundaries, as well as disseminating research findings beyond traditional academic audiences, so I was delighted when Hazel Hall asked me to present a keynote at this conference.

What do you hope to achieve through your keynote?

I hope to get people excited about interdisciplinary research, and spark off some ideas about how to foster collaboration between researchers from disparate areas. I also hope to entertain people; it’s the last talk of the day, and people will be tired, so my aim is to send them home with a smile on their faces.

What are your hopes for the conference as a whole?

I hope the conference will provide a great launchpad for the DREaM project, and help to sow the seeds for a fertile researcher community. I also hope that it will serve as a springboard for extending LIS research practice beyond its traditional boundaries.

What are your hopes for the DREaM project as it gets underway?

I hope the DREaM project will help LIS researchers dare to dream about things they have never dreamed of before, and show the rest of the world how sexy LIS can be!

Dr Evans will be presenting the closing keynote: “The promiscuous researcher: flirting across disciplines and courting the media”, in which he will argue that variety is the spice of love. He will tell the story of some of his research relationships, and explain the thread that links the apparently disparate disciplines with which he has fallen in love, and why he eventually got divorced.

For further details about this session, please see the full conference programme.

DREaM launch conference speaker insight 1: Professor Blaise Cronin

We are rapidly approaching the DREaM Project Launch Conference on Tuesday 19th July, and the speakers and workshop leaders are busy preparing their presentations.

In the first of our series of preview posts, we ask our opening keynote speaker, Professor Blaise Cronin, to explain why he thinks both the event and the DREaM project are important, and what he hopes to achieve through his keynote presentation.

Professor Cronin is Rudy Professor of Information Science, Indiana University, US.

What is your interest in the DREaM project and why are you participating in the launch event?

This seems like an imaginative attempt to if not actually build research capacity within the field to at least set in train discussions that might result in (a) new forms of sustainable collective endeavor and (b) concrete collaborations that might not otherwise have come about. On a personal level, it affords me the opportunity to take the measure of current thinking in the UK and make comparisons with trends in the US.

What do you hope to achieve through your keynote?

Apart for not sending the audience to sleep, a number of things: (a) provide a conspectus of research strengths and weaknesses in information studies research; (b) demonstrate the need for rigor and scale; (c) show the increasing porosity and inter-disciplinarity of the field; (d) suggest some strategic investment opportunities.

What are your hopes for the conference as a whole?

To develop a level of enthusiasm that carries beyond the day and to come up with a number of actionable outcomes that, over time, take research in the field in a new direction or to a new level.

What are your hopes for the DREaM project as it gets underway?

That the dream doesn’t fade too quickly. To that end, I’d like to see thought given to ways of maintaing momentum after the funding period has come to an end.

Professor Cronin will be providing the opening keynote: “…And into the zone of quasi-rationality”, in which he will be providing a brief historical overview of LIS research before critically reviewing competence and practice in the field. For more details, please see the full conference programme.