RiLIES2 wrap-up, resources, and future plans

The RiLIES2 project has been concerned with the production of a series of outputs to support the use and execution of research by librarians and information scientists. In the course of the 6-month project we consulted with the target community as we developed a range of artefacts in print (downloadable pdfs) and electronic (web page) formats. We have also created a number of presentations as part of this work. (Links to these resources are given at the end of this posting.)

We have already reported that decisions on the ownership and sustainability of resources, and the coordination and continuity post-project once funding ends, are key to the long-term usefulness of any outputs created. There are a number of examples of short-lived successful tools that have died due to lack of core funding, and we’d rather this not be the fate of our work.

We have also highlighted that the issues faced by the LIS practitioner-researcher community in the identification and use of resources to support their research work are not well-understood. This signals that there is a need for community consensus around the challenges to be addressed. Then those seeking to help with technical solutions related to accessing resources to support LIS researchers and researcher-practitioners will do so in full recognition of the fundamental problems that the community faces in its efforts to engage with research.

It is difficult to directly measure the impact of a project of this nature. However it is clear that the LIS Research Coalition web site can act as a useful resource for hosting materials to support LIS researchers and practitioner-researchers in the interim while a longer-term solution is established. The RiLIES2 project has also gone a long way to clarify the needs of the LIS researcher-practitioner community and the issues that need to be addressed in meeting them. A further key impact has been to stimulate discussions amongst the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) committee members as to how they can address the needs of the broader LIRG membership. We have provided evidence of the community’s requirements, and generated ideas for future initiatives. This is timely given CILIP’s current focus on the review of its Body of Professional Knowledge and Skills (BPKS).

As our six months on RiLIES2 draws to a close we are busy working on the project report. This will be made available soon. We’re also pleased to announce that some of the work related to the RiLIES2 project will continue: our summer intern Maja Ilievska intends to keep working on her LIS Research Linking Prototype when she returns to Macedonia for the new academic year, with a view to using it as a case study in her final year project. She is currently exploring how the set-up of the ALISS system (which was introduced at the LIRG-hosted briefing session at CILIP in London on 10th July) might be adapted for the LIS research community. We hope to find a way to disseminate the outcome on Maja’s work as it progresses.

In the meantime, please take a look at the resources that we have created in the course of the RiLIES2 project:

The presentations from the briefing session can also be accessed:

There is also an evaluation of the briefing session with links to delegate reviews.

Advertisements

RiLIES report highlights 6: Lessons from healthcare and medical librarians

Introduction

This is the sixth and final RiLIES1 highlight posting. It is based on the findings discussed in full RiLIES1 report. Here, we look at the LIS community that the RiLIES1 project found to be the most successful in linking research and practice: healthcare and medical librarians.

The broad aim of our first RiLIES project was to investigate the extent to which funded research projects in the domain of library and information science (LIS) influence practice in the UK. It focused particularly on identifying factors that increase or hinder the impact of research findings on those who deliver library and information services.

We highlight the research practice of healthcare/medical librarians as an example, and inspiration, to those working in other sectors.

In response to calls for library and information services to be developed on the basis of sound research evidence, the ideal is that “Research and practice, at least in theory, [should] enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship. Research should inform practice and contribute to the development of theory. Practice should benefit from research findings (particularly where those findings go towards improving the product or service provided by practitioners) and raise more questions for research” (Haddow & Klobas, 2004, pp. 29-30). This is important to both (a) current local service priorities, and (b) the future of the broader library and information services profession. Calls such as this often go unheeded – but this is not an issue that is unique to LIS: it has also been identified in other professions, such as teaching, social work, nursing, and management.

The power of context

The RiLIES1 project confirmed that community profile is a factor when it comes to how LIS research is accessed and consumed by different groups of practitioners. For example, those working in academic and healthcare/medical environments are often more aware than others of routes to access research results, and of the benefits that practitioners can gain through direct participation in research projects.

In particular, when we spoke to healthcare/medical librarians during the RiLIES1 project we learnt of their interests and strengths in evidence based practice. The influence of end-user community values is important here. Healthcare practitioners such as doctors and nurses have a need for evidence based research. They therefore value librarians who can access the research evidence for them. At the same time healthcare/medical librarians work in an environment where evidence based practice is routine.

Winners of the Practitioner Researcher Excellence Award

Award winning clinical librarians
L to R: Dr Ben Goldacre (presenter of the award), Anne Webb (award winner), Dr Alison Brettle (mentor to award winners), Debra Thornton (award winner), Rosalind McNally (award winner), and David Stewart (Director of Health Libraries North West)

Working in such an environment offers a further advantage: it can give healthcare/medical librarians easier access to research funding than is the case in other sectors. A good example is the recent prize-winning work of the North West Clinical Librarian Systematic Review and Evaluation Group acknowledged at the DREaM project concluding conferenceon 9th July 2012. This was employer-funded because a direct link from effective library and information services to improvements in the delivery of health services could be seen.

Other examples of funding sources were identified at our workshop with healthcare and medical librarians in Salford in June 2011. For example:

  • Occasionally those working in healthcare and medical librarianship have access research funds that are not explicitly earmarked for librarians. Research opportunities arise, for example, when health service colleagues need LIS research expertise to strengthen their work.
  • One workshop participant explained how her authority funds Masters study. This then generates research results in dissertation format, which in turn may be presented at conferences.

Workshop participants also mentioned cost-effective ways of staff training as related to research. For example, chartership candidates and project students reverse mentor senior colleagues by passing on news of research project results and developments in good practice.

Access to research: popular sources

Across all sectors the RiLIES1 project found that LIS practitioners frequently access sources other than published LIS research in support of their work. In the context of healthcare/medical librarianship, we confirmed that subject-specific journals are used extensively. For example, the British Medical Journal contains valuable practical case studies on activities conducted by healthcare and medical professionals in the course of their work, including literature searching and critical appraisal. Such work is useful for LIS practitioners to prompt new ideas, for example in the deployment of research methods. Equally, routine work such as the provision of current awareness services for end users increases familiarity amongst healthcare/medical librarians with subject-specific publications.

Other than mailing lists, sources popular with heathcare/medical librarians include:

As with the other LIS practitioners, face-to-face communication and conference attendance is greatly valued by healthcare/medical librarians. The “serendipity of networking with old and new contacts” is particularly appreciated, and works best away from the normal work environment.

Conclusions

Healthcare and medical librarians clearly benefit from working in a professional environment in which research engagement is highly valued. For example, end user expectations of professional practice amongst colleagues aligns well with healthcare/medical librarians’ enthusiasm for evidence based library and information practice, and healthcare/medical librarians are able to identify research support from less-obvious sources.

Librarians in other sectors may draw inspiration from this. For example: academic librarians may do more to promote their research expertise amongst teaching and research staff; school librarians could investigate their eligibility for research funding directed at the teaching profession.

A further lesson from the healthcare/medical librarians encountered during RiLIES study is the value of research mentoring, as illustrated in the prize-winning work of the North West Clinical Librarian Group, supported by academic Dr Alison Brettle.

Reference

Haddow, G. (2010). Communicating research to practice: The role of professional association publicationsLibrary and Information Research, 34(108), 33-44.

The RiLIES report; read the full study

To read further details of the study please see the full RiLIES1 report, freely available to download.

Research into practice: LIS research resources briefing

RiLIES briefing slideToday the RiLIES project team visited CILIP HQ In Ridgmount Street, London to give an update on the output of the two RiLIES projects. If you’d like to see the discussions at the workshop, check out the hashtag #rilies.

The half-day workshop began with a short ice-breaker exercise during which participants discussed their roles as researchers, researcher-practitioners, practitioners with interests in research, and consultants. Then Hazel Hall led the first of two formal presentations with an overview of the two RiLIES projects. She focused in particular on the findings of RiLIES1 that have direct relevance to preferences for exploiting the existing LIS research evidence base and the long-term support needs of LIS researchers, and practitioner-researchers. Peter Cruickshank’s presentation covered the new content on the LIS Research Coalition web pages that the RiLIES team has assembled to access: (a) the existing LIS research evidence base; (b) sources to support LIS professionals keen to conduct research; (c) information about people involved in LIS research (such as research centres and networks); and information about funding sources. He then discussed the possible development of a range of tools to help better navigate the fragmented nature of online information sources relevant to LIS research. He also demonstrated how the ALISS engine approach might be adopted by displaying a third set of slides. In the final session of the morning Christine Irving facilitated a short exercise during which the delegates discussed responses to Peter’s proposals.

On the basis of the discussions, the exercise output and delegate review forms, we will post a follow-up blog about the workshop. The information gathered from delegates in response to our proposals will help inform the development of our plans for the remainder of the project. In the blog post we will also provide further links. In the meantime you can view the three sets of slides from the event on SlideShare:

Updated links pages: share your expertise with the RiLIES team

We are now approaching the final phase of the RiLIES 2 project. Currently we are are preparing some legacy material that we hope the LIS community – including researchers and practitioners – will find useful. The feedback from our recent poll is helping to inform this work. 

We have now posted draft materials online and seek your feedback on the pages which list links to external resources.

Please have a look at this page and the pages that it links to. These point to resources of interest to the UK LIS research community.

Please review the five pages: are there any mistakes, and/or any additional links that we should add? We are particularly interested in finding actively maintained resources to which we can link.

Reminder: If you are interested in attending a free briefing session on the output of the RiLIES projects, please sign up for our event organised in collaboration with LIRG in London on the morning of Tuesday 10th July (the day after the DREaM conference).

Feedback and comments

Please comment directly on the pages or use this this form to give us your feedback. You can use it as many times as you want. Constructive criticism is very welcome! Many thanks

RiLIES report highlights 4: Key lessons from impactful research projects

In a blog post that we published on February 2 2012 we announced that the full report of the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES1) was available to download, and that we would be blogging highlights of the report over the coming weeks. This is the fourth of the RiLIES1 highlights postings. Here we present lessons from five research projects that the LIS community identified as having a particularly strong impact on practitioners.

The broad aim of our first RiLIES project was to investigate the extent to which funded research projects in the domain of library and information science (LIS) influence practice in the UK. It focused particularly on identifying factors that increase or hinder the impact of research findings on those who deliver library and information services.

The projects used as case studies for understanding how to maximise impact from the perspective of researchers were: (1) Open to all; (2) eValued; (3) Researchers’ use of academic libraries; (4) Evaluating clinical librarian services; (5) School libraries in the UKWe found that they share many characteristics.

Read more of this post

RiLIES report highlights 2: dissemination strategies for impact

In a blog post that we published on February 2 2012 we announced that the full report of the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES1) was available to download, and that we would be blogging highlights of the report over the coming weeks. This is the second of the RiLIES1 highlights postings. Here we present dissemination strategies for impact.

The full RiLIES1 report makes four recommendations related to the dissemination strategies for impact. Here we consider these recommendations with reference to the literature reviewed for RiLIES1 and the outcomes of our empirical work.

1. Develop dissemination strategies that align with how and where practitioners access new information

We confirmed that if practitioners are involved throughout the lifespan of a research project, including helping to determine its scope and design, they are more likely to be aware of, and use, its outputs. Otherwise, face-to-face communication is the most popular way for practitioners to first hear about research that may be relevant to their practice. This is achieved both formally by attending events such as conferences, as well as through informal discussions. It will probably not come as a surprise to most to learn that practitioners have limited interest in peer-reviewed, academic papers.

2. Create and embed research outputs that support the use of research results

Our case studies demonstrated the benefits of creating usable artefacts – such as toolkits, training materials – and a sustainable community of practice (CoP) to support practitioners in the implementation of research findings. However, researchers need to be aware that it can take a lot of work to make a CoP sustainable, and such efforts need to continue beyond the funded period of the project.

3. Include teaching and community support materials in project plans

We found projects which were able to take advantage of additional funding to develop teaching and community support materials based on their project findings maintained a long-term impact.

4. Make research output accessible

Our literature review uncovered a line of argument across several publications that practitioners believe that research output is presented in a way that is difficult to understand. This is the “academic discourse” problem. Researchers should be encouraged to publish reports with clear lists of recommendations (and not “findings that speak for themselves”), in accessible language. Such reports should be written up in addition to any academic papers that researchers may choose to publish. A second issue that is well-recognised is information overload. Difficulties related to academic discourse and information overload can be addressed through the “translation” of research, i.e. making details relevant to practitioners available in sources that they use routinely, as well as relaying research findings in environments where people meet face-to-face, such as at conferences.

On a number of occasions participants consulted in the RiLIES project referred to the need for easily accessible research summaries. Many also regretted that they had only limited access to the research literature. This finding is important because research summaries are available, there are a number of open access repositories of LIS research already in existence, and anyone who is a CILIP member already also has access to a wide range of research resources (see, for example, the resources listed on the LIS Research Coalition’s Links pages). Here lies an opportunity for those with responsibility for freely available open access repositories of LIS research materials to raise awareness of their resources amongst the practitioner communities.

Coming up

Our next RiLIES1 report highlights post will consider the role of social media in enhancing the impact of research projects.

To read further details of the study please see the full RiLIES1 report, freely available to download.

RiLIES project final survey now available

We have launched a short online survey as the final part of the LIS Research Coalition’s RiLIES project. Update: this survey closed on 15 July.

Aimed primarily at UK-based Library and Information Science (LIS) practitioners, its purpose to is check our findings to date on the relationship between the output of LIS research projects and its impact on practitioners. (If you live in another country, or are an LIS researcher or student, we would still be interested in your answers, so please feel welcome to participate too.)

You can access the survey by visiting: http://bit.ly/RiLIES2

The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. Please submit your responses by Friday 15 July. If you can, please pass the word on to your colleagues so that they have an opportunity to make a contribution too. Many thanks!