University of Northampton Learning and Library Services Conference 2012

Dr Miggie Pickton, editorial board member of Library and Information Research and a keen supporter of the LIS Research Coalition since its establishment, has contributed a guest blog post on a conference for LIS practitioners interested in conducting their own research. Miggie writes:

Hannah Rose (left) and Gillian Siddall (right) encouraging students to participate in their focus groups

Hannah Rose (left) and Gillian Siddall (right) encouraging students to participate in their focus groups

Here in the library at the University of Northampton we don’t just support research activity: we believe in engaging with it ourselves. The last few years have seen a steady increase in the number of Northampton library staff involved in research activity. Whether working in collaboration with partners or pursuing individual goals, the common purpose of all of our projects has been to conduct research that will inform our practice. Only by gathering and using evidence – from literature, theory, policy or practice – can we be sure that we are offering the best possible service to library users.

The use of research to inform practice is the underlying theme of our first departmental conference. This will take place on June 19th 2012. Staff from Library and Learning Services (the department comprises library, learning technology and learning development services) will be speaking on a range of topics: the iconography of the library; new roles for reading lists; the use of mobile apps; research data management, and more. We are also running a poster competition and two sets of ‘minute madness’ presentations. Our aim is to involve as many staff as possible, from all parts of the department. Our intended audience comprises the LIS community and our own service users.

We are particularly proud of our featured presentations. Many of the speakers have already presented their work at national and international conferences and published in a variety of places. Several have successfully competed for funding to support their work. Two of our presenters are the current holders of the LIRG Research Award and two have won university Teaching Fellowships for their work. Not only has their research benefited the service, it has also brought career benefits and increased job satisfaction to those involved.

We have been fortunate at Northampton in that research activity is strongly encouraged by our senior managers. LIS staff are rewarded with opportunities to attend external events and time to write for publication. But the motivation must come from within. To learn more about this, here is an opportunity to meet Northampton’s practitioner researchers.

So we welcome you warmly to our conference.

The full programme is available on our conference web site. If you would like to come along please contact Fiona Maclellan. There is a nominal charge of £30 to cover costs (including lunch).

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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.

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!”

LIS Research Coalition sponsors “Meet the editors” session at EBLIP6 in June

Would you like to:

  • See reports of your project work published in the LIS press?
  • Learn how to target your submissions at appropriate publications?
  • Understand more about the relative status of the range of LIS publications, from the practitioner magazines to the high impact journals?
  • Find out from the experts what makes the difference between material that is accepted and that which is rejected?
  • Volunteer your services to an editor as a peer reviewer?
  • Discover what it takes to be invited to join an editorial board, and the responsibilities of the role?
  • Offer to write book reviews for the LIS press?
  • Work out if you could make any money from working for an LIS publication?
  • See some real, live editors and editorial board members discuss how the output from LIS research projects reaches the pages of their journals?
  • Pose further questions about publishing in LIS?

If so, read on…

The Sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) Conference takes place from June 27th until June 30th at the University of Salford. The LIS Research Coalition is sponsoring part of the programme with a panel session entitled “Meet the editors” on Thursday 30th June. We are pleased to announce that the following editors and editorial board members will be representing a range of LIS publications on the day:

If you would like to join us at the panel session, please sign up for EBLIP6 in Salford in June, either as a day delegate for Thursday 30th, or as delegate for the full conference from 28th until 30th June. Early bird registrations are available until 15th April. We’re all looking forward to lively discussion on the day.

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.