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.

RiLIES looks at impact of research projects on academic librarians’ practice

On 20 June, the second of our three RiLIES projects focus groups took place as part of our work to understand the impact of research projects on librarians’ practice.

Peter Cruickshank, Stephanie Kenna and Jenny Gebel met with members of CILIP’s UC&R group at Regent’s College, London for a discussion with people in a variety of front-line and managerial roles in university and college libraries.

We started from the research question:

To what extent does the ouput of UK funded librarianship research projects influence the practice of librarianship?

Themes that emerged in our discussion included the types of research that are relevant to practitioners, and the role that students, chartering and revalidating staff have in keeping their colleagues up to date. The importance of face-to-face networking and informal links also came up, as well as how to make the best of the cost pressures which are limiting the numbers that are currently able to attend conferences.

The data collected will be analysed in full with that collected from the Perth focus group (with public librarians) and the final focus group which will take place in 28th June with medical/health librarians attending EBLIP6 on 28 June.

We also took the opportunity to raise awareness of the work of the LIS Research Coalition in general, and to encourage participation in the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project.

Thank you to Amanda Holyoak and the CILIP’s UC&R group for making it possible for us to hold our academic librarians’ focus group, and to all that took part for their contribution.

You can follow our progress through our twitter account: @LIS_RiLIES  – and please tell us if you’ve been using results from one of our five case study projects

Congratulation to the winners of sponsored places at DREaM project launch conference

The LIS Research Coalition is delighted to announce that its five sponsored places for new professionals at the DREaM project launch conference have been awarded to:

Paula GoodalePaula Goodale
Research Assistant – PATHS Project
The iSchool
University of Sheffield

Paula has recently graduated with an MA in Librarianship and is now working as a part-time researcher in the Information School at the University of Sheffield, where she is also registered for a part-time PhD. Paula is looking forward to the DREaM project launch conference because it will contribute to the conversation about evolving LIS research methods. She says “I hope that it will generate lots of ideas that I can immediately incorporate into my research practice, as well as highlight opportunities for extending my research into new areas, utilizing new methods for future projects. Having a digital media and multi-disciplinary background, I am aware of the wide range of research practices and I am keen to find out how some of these might be applied in LIS and perhaps how more traditional LIS methods can be adapted in areas of my current research that are outside of the mainstream.”

Samanta HalfordSamantha Halford
Subject Librarian (School of Engineering & Mathematics)
City University London

Samantha graduated with an MA with distinction in Library and Information Studies from University College London in 2007. She currently works as a subject librarian at City University and will be working towards a postgraduate certificate in academic practice next academic year. Samantha’s first professional post focused on supporting academics’ and students’ research and learning. Now she would like to turn her attention to developing her own research and writing. Samantha says “I would like to start making a contribution to the body of LIS research, and attending the DREaM project launch conference would be a wonderful opportunity to learn about best practice in methods and techniques from the beginning.”

Ray HarperRay Harper
Planning Officer
University of Sheffield

Ray has already embarked on his career as a practitioner researcher having recently published a paper based on his Masters dissertation project in the New Review of Academic Librarianship. He is also currently engaged in another project to examine the overlaps between LIS and knowledge management skills. In his role as Planning Officer at the University of Sheffield Ray analyses and prepares data for a range of departments across the institution. Ray says “I think that it is important for the LIS profession to positively engage with other professions because LIS practitioners and researchers have skills of direct application to numerous other disciplines, and can learn a lot from dialogue with those outside the traditional LIS ‘sphere'”.

Shreeti Rajyaguru
Clinical Information Search Service Officer
UHL NHS Trust Education Centre Library

Shreeti holds an undergraduate degree in Information Management and Computing and earlier this year started a new job as a Clinical Information Search Service Officer in the NHS. Shreeti is looking forward to contributing a fresh perspective on LIS research from her position as a new professional working in clinical librarianship. She is keen to join the conference as a delegate to “gain further exposure to the works of professionals in the area of library and information science as well as continue to build networks in the field”.

Charlotte SmithCharlotte Smith
Assistant Librarian
University of Cambridge

Charlotte completed her MSc dissertation last year and is currently working towards chartered member status of CILIP while in post as an assistant librarian at the University of Cambridge. Charlotte is a strong supporter of the goals of the DREaM project, particularly since social media has changed the ways in which we can gather and analyse data, as well as disseminate research output. Charlotte says “LIS researchers are branching out into informal domains to conduct research and this has the effect that such research may not be disseminated to the entire LIS community. This is why it is crucial that we develop a UK-wide network of LIS professionals which we all, if not belong to, at the very least have the knowledge of how and where to look for current research.”

The DREaM project launch conference takes place on Tuesday 19th July 2011 at the Conference Centre of the British Library in London. For further information about the DREaM project launch conference and registration, please see the DREaM project launch conference web site.

We would like to thank the sponsors TFPL Intelligent Resources, Sue Hill Recruitment and Glen Recruitment for supporting the award of the five places to new professionals.

TFPL Intelligent Resources logo

Sue Hill Recruitment logo

glen recruitment

Discussions of the impact of librarianship research with librarians in Perth

Hazel Hall introduces the focus group

Hazel Hall introduces the focus group

Today team members of the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) Hazel Hall, Ella Taylor-Smith and Jenny Gebel travelled to Perth to run a focus group at the AK Bell Library.

The focus group was kindly organised by Elaine Fulton and Rhona Arthur of SLIC (the most recent associate member of the LIS Research Coalition) to take place before a meeting of the Scottish heads of public library services in the afternoon.

Jenny Gebel at the meeting

Jenny Gebel at the meeting

We enjoyed a lively discussion of the impact of UK funded librarianship projects on librarianship practice, with interesting points raised on ease of access (or not) to research output, roles of the librarian, the importance of context to the production and consumption of research, and the value of different dissemination routes. The data collected today will be analysed in full with that collected from the other two focus groups taking place in London on 20th June (with academic librarians) and Salford on 28th June (with medical/health librarians).

The visit to Perth also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the work of the LIS Research Coalition amongst public librarians, and to encourage participation in the Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project.

Focus group members discuss how research findings are disseminated

Focus group members discuss how research findings are disseminated

It is hoped that there will be good representation from the public library community at the DREaM project launch conference at the British Library in London on Tuesday 19th July.

We would like to thank everyone for their participation at the RiLIES project focus group in Perth, especially those who travelled from as far away as the Outer Hebrides and Shetland to contribute to the discussion.

Online 2010: “the one when it snowed”

Snow!

By the end of the annual Online conference and exhibition each year a couple of themes emerge as dominant. Last year, for example, in the LIS Research Coalition’s review of the Online 2009, we reported that social media and the semantic web had been the key areas of interest. At Online 2010 conversations centered on a range of themes including linked data, the social web, the value and impact of information professionals, and mobile and cloud computing. However, at the forefront of many minds was the UK weather as it deteriorated over the course of the week. In the future we may well be remembering this event as “the one when it snowed”.

Online 2010 exhibition hall at London Olympia

Online 2010 exhibition hall at London Olympia

For visitors to Online from both the UK and beyond snow caused much disruption. There were few people at Olympia whose travel plans were not subject to delay or change for their outward and/or return journeys, and many who had hoped to attend Online 2010 simply did not make it to London at all. As a consequence there were some substitutions on the programme, both in terms of presenters and session chairs. Hazel Hall, for example, expected to deliver her own paper on news from the LIS Research Coalition and chair two others: (1) Winning hearts and minds! Breaking through social media barriers with presentations by Phil Bradley (now on Slideshare), Ulla de Stricker and Bonnie Cheuk; (2) Adding value to library and information services using social media with presentations by Kim Holmberg, Mervi Ahola and Janika Asplund, and Hervé Basset.
Presenters Angela Ashenden, Helen Clegg and Gordon Vala-Webb

Presenters Angela Ashenden, Helen Clegg and Gordon Vala-Webb

In the event, she chaired an additional session – Social media in action: driving forward IM and KM with presentations by Gordon Vala Webb (now on Slideshare), Helen Clegg and Hugo Evans, and Angela Ashenden – and was on standby for other duties should they have arisen. This session has been reviewed by VIP in a posting entitled “Infopros and social media 1: culture or toolkit?“.

Twitter

Those who follow @LISResearch on Twitter will have watched our tweeting from sessions where Hazel was a member of the audience. If you would like to see the full archive of conference tweets, it is available from the Online10 Twapperkeeper set up by Karen Blakeman.

A session tweet on the tweet wall

A session tweet on the tweet wall

From here you can get a flavour of the event, as well as links through to speakers’ slides and some blogged reviews of individual sessions and the conference as a whole. At the event itself there were a number of screens around the conference that displayed the Twitter activity in real time. Tweets referred to the sessions, exhibitors and – inevitably – the snow. As well as hosting the screens, UltraKnowledge kept a record who was most active on Twitter. @LISResearch topped the chart.

Paper highlights

Of the sessions that Hazel attended she particularly enjoyed the discussion of “Web squared” as the successor to Web 2.0, illustrated neatly by Dion Hinchcliffe in the opening keynote paper. Here Dion used a table to compare Web squared’s characteristics with those of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

Conference chair Stephen Dale and keynote speaker Dion Hinchcliffe

Conference chair Stephen Dale and keynote speaker Dion Hinchcliffe

Bonnie Cheuk’s efforts with social media to protect staff from information overload generated by the “e-mail high five” were entertaining and illustrated the challenges of culture change when implementing social media in the work place. There were three strong presentations from Euan Semple, Lee Bryant and Brian Kelly in the Social media and leadership session on the Tuesday morning, with Euan’s focus on how to move people away from po-faced attitudes to social media, and Lee’s discussion of how information professionals should have a stronger involvement in an area where corporate communications staff often have a hold. Librarians working in higher education are advised to review the video of Brian Kelly’s presentation on the value of cloud services, accessible from his UK Web Focus site. The conference sessions also gave access to many case studies from which librarians and information scientists could learn about good (and sometimes less than optimal) practice in information services delivery.

Ake Nygren spoke about social media and public libraries

Ake Nygren spoke about social media and public libraries

Some of the free sessions were of particular interest, not least because the presentations drew heavily on research evidence. For example, the content of Wednesday afternoon’s Social media spotlight papers by Jakob Harnesk, Hervé Basset, Stephane Goldstein, Geoff Walton, Ake Nygren, and Tomas Baiget derived largely from the results of research projects.

The two papers that followed in the gallery area of the exhibition hall by Annie Mauger of CILIP and Anne Caputo of SLA were also based on the output of research projects. We were particularly pleased when Annie restated in her presentation CILIP’s recognition of the importance of evidence-based research to library and information science.

Congratulations

Hazel was pleased to join in celebrations of success at Online 2010. On the Tuesday afternoon, and just before he was due to take the stage, it was announced that Phil Bradley had been elected Vice President of CILIP for 2011.

Phil Bradley (photo credit Dave Pattern)

Since Hazel was chairing the session in which Phil spoke, she had the honour and pleasure of making the first face-to-face public announcement of Phil’s success.

Later in the afternoon she attended the presentation of the award of Information World Review Information Professional of the Year 2010. Unfortunately the recipient Dave Pattern had been unable to make the journey to London due to the snow, so Karen Blakeman accepted the award on his behalf. For further information on Dave’s well-deserved success, please see the blog post by Brian Kelly. On the Thursday lunchtime we were also pleased to see Stephanie Kenna receive her honorary fellowship of CILIP.

Other reviews

This review of Online 2010 can only reflect the perspective of one participant and, as such, it is limited. For a fuller picture it is worth checking the reviews of others who have reported in detail on individual sessions, as well as the conference as a whole. The blogs postings from the Conference Circuit by Donald T Hawkins provide a good overview starting with Welcome to Live from London – Online Information 2010, as do the posts by Val Skelton and Kat Allen at InfoToday.eu. Val’s summary of What we learnt at Online Information 2010 is particularly interesting. Individuals who have blogged their own experiences of the conference include Mareike Guy and Onlineability. Nancy Davis Kho’s review for VIP focuses on the exhibition, and FreePint’s photos from Online are worth browsing. There are also links to blog postings and photographs from the conference and exhibition on the SLA Europe web site. We look forward to seeing further reviews of the conference in the print media in early 2011.

Conference review, thanks and resources

Thank you to everyone for their participation in the LIS Research Coalition conference on Monday.

Conference review

The analysis of the conference evaluation forms (49 returned from 81 participants) shows that the event was very well received as a valuable, stimulating and enjoyable day, particularly for making contact with other LIS researchers, learning about on-going projects, and inspiring individuals’ commitment to pursuing their own research objectives. From the LIS Research Coalition’s perspective, the event provided a great opportunity to address its aims related to bringing together information about LIS research in the UK and encouraging dialogue across the members of the LIS research community. Added to this, discussions during the day – particularly in the breakout sessions – have helped identify priority areas for investment of Coalition resources in the coming months.

The majority of delegates who completed the conference evaluation forms rated the conference as a whole as “excellent” or “very good”. The most popular sessions were Andrew Dillon’s opening keynote speech and the set of one minute madness presentations, both of which were rated “excellent” by the majority. Andrew’s presentation attracted comments such as “great keynote” and “excellent – really interesting and fascinating speaker”. There was much enthusiasm in the comments on the one minute madness session which, in a way, reflected the gusto with which the delegates participated in this activity: “One minute madness worked really well – enjoyed this very much. There should be one at every conference!” “One minute madness was brill. How amazing that it actually worked!” Michael Jubb’s introductory presentation was also well received, with the majority rating this session either “excellent” or “very good”. The most common rating for the breakout sessions was “very good”, and for Charles Oppenheim’s closing keynote, described as a “great finale” in a delegate tweet, it was “excellent”.

The choice of venue was also very popular with the delegates: the majority rated the convenience of the location, its comfort and facilities and the catering as “excellent”: “I was very impressed – plush, great air-con, gorgeous food and handy for King’s Cross. Perfect.”

Those who were involved in the conference administration were pleased that most delegates rated the arrangements as “excellent”, both prior to the conference and on the day itself. Particularly appreciated was the additional “social” information provided in advance of the conference which, it is believed, contributed to the friendly atmosphere of the event.

Feedback from our virtual participants, of which there were at least 29 actively following the conference by watching #lisrc10 on Twitter or interacting with the CoverItLive site, also showed enthusiasm for the proceedings of the day.

Conference thanks

Of course, an enormous amount of effort goes into planning a conference such as this, and we owe thanks to all involved. First we are very grateful to the conference sponsors. A special vote thanks is due to our speakers, facilitators, chairs, student rapporteurs, and the brave one minute madness speakers for their contributions on the day, as well as the hard work devoted to preparing for their roles. We should also recognise that without the commitment of the conference programme committee, we would not have enjoyed a range of sessions that was – as one delegate remarked – so “well-designed from the point of view of the flow of different events/formats and from the point of view of engagement/participation”. There are also two individuals whose work behind the scenes deserves special recognition. Stephanie Kenna, amongst other things, contributed much to the marketing of the event. Stella Wisdom managed communications between Event Logistics and the British Library. Stella also liaised with the AV team to ensure that all the speaker presentations were in order, and prepared the tailored handouts that helped guide us through the process of accessing the British Library’s wireless network.

Conference resources

We have spent the past couple of days writing up the conference sessions and posting materials to the Coalition web site. Our live blogger Kirsty Pitkin of T-Consult Ltd worked at amazing speed to edit the video footage and provide the drafts of session reports for Hazel Hall to edit. Those who have agreed to write their own reports of the event, for example for colleagues or for publication, will be particularly pleased to see the full list of resources now available below (also accessible from the conference web page). We will add links to other conference outputs, for example reviews in the professional press and individual participants’ blogs, as these are published.

All the PowerPoint presentations from the conference are also available from the LIS Research Coalition’s Slideshare site. Video footage from the day, including delegate interviews and the one minute madness session, is available from the LIS Research Coalition’s Vimeo site.

The librarian as researcher

Over the past few months the LIS Research Coalition has been involved in a number of conferences and meetings, as can be seen from the listings on the Events web page. Last week attention focused on the Librarian as Researcher event organised by the Yorkshire and Humberside branch of the University, College and Research (UC&R) group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). As well as those who attended in person, a number of people followed the day’s proceedings on Twitter by watching the hashtag #ucryhres and corresponding with those tweeting, including @LISResearch. Miggie Pickton, who presented at this event, kindly agreed to contribute a guest blog posting on the day for the LIS Research Coalition web site.

Miggie is Research Support Specialist at the University of Northampton. She has been a great supporter of the LIS Research Coalition in the first year of its implementation. Miggie has served on the programme committee for the conference which takes place later in the month on Monday 28th June at the British Library, and is the one behind the organisation of the one minute madness session at this event.

Over to Miggie…

We all enjoyed a fun-filled day on practitioner research in York last Thursday, participating in the ‘Librarians as researchers’ event hosted by UC&R Yorkshire and Humberside. In the morning Jean McNiff of York St John University put us all through our paces as action researchers (yes, we actually did a piece of action research there and then) and then Sheila Corrall from the University of Sheffield’s i-School presented a set of convincing arguments for embarking on a higher degree in LIS. Professional doctorates appeal – a structured programme with lots of relevance to the day job – but, as yet, there not many professional doctorates available for LIS professionals in the UK.

Slightly awed by this exalted company, I was there banging the drum for practitioner research. But why would practitioners want to do research? The group came up with lots of reasons….

Research is good for the individual:

  • It is interesting – an opportunity to explore something in more depth, learn something new, satisfy your curiosity
  • It encourages you to challenge yourself, to move out of that comfort zone, develop new skills, become reflective, stretch yourself
  • It adds variety to the job – research involves a change from routine, an opportunity to do something different, work with new people
  • It involves making a personal connection with work
  • It increases job satisfaction
  • It enables you to do your job better
  • It supports professional development
  • It enhances personal profile and improves career prospects

Research is good for the service and the organisation:

  • It provides evidence of value and demonstrates impact
  • It underpins strategic improvement and other decision-making… and on the way research can help to solve problems and improve service
  • It leads to greater engagement with service users through:
    • Understanding their perspective
    • Showing that you’re interested in their needs
    • Doing what they do (promote the library as ‘academic’ department and the librarian as credible researcher)
  • It increases staff motivation and dynamism
  • It enhances organisational reputation and achieve recognition (within and beyond the institution)
  • It brings financial benefit – by generating income or discovering ways to reduce costs

Research is good for the profession:

  • It provokes conversation and debate (and not just within LIS – with other disciplines too)
  • It creates and disseminates new knowledge and good practice – furthering professional excellence (as CILIP would have us do)
  • It provokes positive change
  • It develops an engaged and vibrant professional community
  • It enhances the profession’s reputation and profile
  • It defines our professional future

And with all that is going for practitioner research, we’d better get on with it, taking advantage of continuing the conversation at other professional events that provide research support and opportunities to consider its context in LIS practice, such as the LIS Research Coalition conference at the end of this month.