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

Advertisements

DREaM and RiLIES project papers well-received at QQML

QQML conference

QQML conference materials

We’re pleased to report that both our papers delivered yesterday at the 4th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries in Limerick, Republic of Ireland, went well.

The paper on the DREaM project co-authored by Alison Brettle, Hazel Hall and Charles Oppenheim and presented by Alison as the last paper in the final session of the evening (18:30-20:00) was particularly well-received. Its content prompted several questions and much discussion amongst the conference delegates and led Hazel to suggest that perhaps she and Charles should set up a DREaM franchise overseas! We believe that the delivery of the paper by a participant in the DREaM project – rather than the co-investigators – lent authenticity to the messages it conveyed, and we are particularly grateful that Alison was willing to give up time both to develop the slides and travel all the way to Ireland for the conference.

This paper has helped us to disseminate information on the operation of the DREaM project, as well as raised awareness of all the resources to help support LIS researchers that we have assembled over the past year or so. Clearly the more people that can make use of these resources (particularly those from the workshops), the more valuable they become.

There is already evidence of our DREaM paper’s impact: there have been a number of new membership requests for the DREaM online community (open to anyone interested in LIS research), a surge of hits to the DREaM project pages on the LIS Research Coalition web site, and viewings of the presentation slides themselves on SlideShare (270 within 24 hours of the delivery of the paper). We’re also hopeful that some of those who attended the presentation – or heard about it – will be encouraged to come to the DREaM conference at the British Library on Monday July 9th.

Alison tweets

Alison Brettle (@BrettleAli), seated next to Alvin Schrader, was one of the top tweeters at QQML on Tuesday

Earlier in the day Hazel Hall delivered the paper she co-authored with Peter Cruickshank and Ella Taylor-Smith on the RiLIES project. It fitted nicely with two other papers in the same session: one by Dian Walster that considered how much “theory” there is in librarianship research, and another on impact measurement presented by Alvin Schrader. Unfortunately time was very tight in this session and there was no time for questions or discussion in the conference room. However, a number of delegates spoke privately with Hazel afterwards and showed interest in both phases of the RiLIES project. Hazel’s presentation on SlideShare has also attracted much attention since it was delivered in Limerick, with 244 viewings to date.

The conference itself continues until the end of the week and can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #qqml.

Realising the value of RiLIES: presentation at QQML2012

This week the 4th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries takes place in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. We have two papers at the conference. The first, entitled “Realising the value of RiLIES: the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study”, is by Hazel Hall, Peter Cruickshank and Ella Taylor-Smith. The abstract and link to slides for the paper are given below.

Abstract: Realising the value of RiLIES: the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study

In 2011 researchers at Edinburgh Napier University, supported by the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition, investigated the extent to which funded research projects in the domain of library and information science (LIS) influence practice in the UK. The Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) focused particularly on identifying factors that increase or hinder the impact of research findings on those who deliver library and information services.

This paper will present the main findings of the RiLIES project as derived from: (1) a review of the LIS literature on impact; (2) a practitioner poll; (3) case studies of five LIS research projects identified as “impactful”; (4) three sector-specific focus groups; and (5) a validation survey.

The findings highlight the evident disconnect between the LIS research and practitioner communities. They confirm that the level of impact that a research project enjoys depends on a number of factors, most importantly how it is planned and conceived, the extent to which practitioners are involved in its execution, and how its findings are reported. This work also demonstrates how organisational factors related to institutional and infrastructural support can engender receptive target audiences for research output.

The paper will offer new insight into the influence that research leadership and sponsorship, as well as choices related to the involvement of practitioners in research, play in the determination of research impact. In particular, these findings highlight a preference for face-to-face channels for the dissemination of research results that is greater than has been previously reported, and reveal the role of social media in raising awareness of research for the first time in work on this theme.

The presentation will be of particular interest to those keen to enhance the impact of their LIS research projects, and to practitioners who would like to become more engaged in LIS research.

Presentation slides

The slides for this presentation are available on SlideShare.

Free LIRG briefing session – London – Tuesday 10th July 2012

RESEARCH INTO PRACTICE: LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SCIENCE RESEARCH RESOURCES BRIEFING 

  • Tuesday 10th July, 10:00-13:00, CILIP, Ridgmount Street, London
  • A free half-day LIRG event
  • Led by Christine Irving, Peter Cruickshank and Hazel Hall, Edinburgh Napier University
The Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) is pleased to announce a free event in collaboration with the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) team.This is a half-day briefing session. Its main aim is to raise awareness amongst librarians of the evidence-base that can be used to support high quality information services delivery, and the tools that can be used to access relevant sources of information. The briefing will also highlight a number of well-established and new resources that can help practitioners in the design, implementation and evaluation of their own research projects. These include training, good practice and community support materials. In addition, the session will provide a forum for librarians to discuss the long-term research support needs of the library and information science research community. There will be opportunities to ask questions, provide feedback and offer suggestions.

Learning outcome

By the end of the session participants will have increased their knowledge and understanding of the range of research resources and training materials available to support (1) the exploitation of the existing library and information science (LIS) evidence base, and (2) the execution of LIS research projects.

Who should attend?

This briefing is aimed at LIS practitioners, academics and students interested in learning about the range of resources available. It is particularly suitable for those who are keen to increase their engagement with research to support their practice.

Cost and booking

There is no charge for this event. However, advance booking is required to secure a place. Visit the LIRG website for further details http://bit.ly/RiLIES_briefing. Please use the online form at http://bit.ly/RiLIES_booking to make a booking. Bookings close on 2nd July 2012.

Further information

Enquiries regarding the event can be made to Christine Irving C.Irving@napier.ac.uk or the LIRG Events Team lirg.Events@gmail.com

Find out more about the RiLIES projects

The Research in Librarianship – Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES – pronounced “realise”) comprises two linked projects. RiLIES1 explored the extent to which funded librarianship research projects influence library practice in the UK. The goal of RiLIES2 is to produce research resources and training material to support librarians and information scientists in their use of published research in their work, and – where appropriate – to help librarians and information scientists and professionals carry out their own research. To find out more about RiLIES, please see the project web site at https://lisresearch.org/rilies-project/

RiLIES is a sister project of Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM), both of which are supported by the LIS Research Coalition. This half day LIRG event on the morning of Tuesday 10th July at CILIP in London has been timed to follow the DREaM conference which takes place at the British Library on Monday 9th July. LIRG is also holding its AGM at the DREaM conference. Thus those with interests in LIS research and who are normally obliged to travel far to reach London have the opportunity to attend three events grouped together at the start of the week beginning 9th July. For further information about the DREaM conference, please see http://bit.ly/DREaM5_prog.

This event carries the CILIP Seal of Recognition

RiLIES2 project poll: findings

This post is an update on our progress with the RiLIES2 project. We highlight the pressing need for a centrally-funded community-maintained directory of LIS research resources, held in a known location, with (crucially) a long-term commitment to maintenance.

Knowledge is required before action. To this end we carried out a survey in April, the purpose of which was to find out which of the existing resources that support librarians and information scientists when they consume and/or conduct research are (a) well used and/or (b) respected. We also asked respondents where they would go to access advice online on how to set up a new research project of their own.

Summary of responses

We are not claiming that the survey is representative: just 87 people responded, and the majority were librarians working in academia and healthcare. However, the data can be treated as a source of new ideas for evaluation, and can be used to feed into project plans. This blog post summarises some of the more interesting findings from the survey related to practitioners’ knowledge of resources, the creation of legacy resources by the project team, and dissemination options for RiLIES2.

More information about the project will be made available between now and its conclusion at the end of July. In the meantime, please contribute your thoughts, knowledge and ideas. It’s not too late to make an impact on our results!

Practitioners’ knowledge of resources

The first main section of the poll listed 19 electronic resources. These were identified in the first RiLIES project completed last year, and through additional desk research undertaken in early 2012. We asked about respondents’ knowledge and experience of the resources listed.

As has been identified elsewhere, mailing lists (particularly operated by JISC) continue to be the main source of information for many who are interested in LIS research. In addition, several blogs and Twitter feeds were cited by poll respondents. Other popular resources included the Library and Information Research journal (LIR), the resources assembled by the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG), and the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) journal. The resources developed over the course of the DREaM project also merited mention.

A common response, even from experienced researchers, shows that completing the survey was a useful exercise in itself, as illustrated in tweets such as this:

“Just completed the @LIS_RiLIES poll & learnt about new resources to support my research in the process”

We discovered that a number of resources have low visibility to the LIS community. For example, few respondents had heard of KnowledgeHub (a relatively new resource) and/or the BAILER resource links (a resource aimed at a specific sector of LIS researchers). There was an indication that other resources – though known – face a challenge in transforming a potential audience into an active user-base. This finding applies to the DREaM project resources, the Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) journal, and the Library and Information Research journal (LIR).

Another issue is that some of the resources identified have been found to be wanting. A large proportion of respondents reported that they had accessed particular resources, but not found them useful. This applied to two sets of resources which rely on volunteer effort for their maintenance: the web pages of the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG) and BAILER resource links. Long-term commitment to resource curation is a key issue here.

These findings illustrate how often what may understood as lack of access to resources is something different. It is a combination lack of practitioner awareness of existing resources, and a poor match of resources to user expectations, particularly in cases where the resources depend on sustained effort by volunteer committee members to keep them up to date.

Creating legacy resources

The aim of the second group of questions in our poll was to establish priorities for the RiLIES2 project’s suggested outputs. A supplementary aim was to identify any other types of material that could be considered by the project team.

Preferences for legacy resources

As the chart shows, the core proposals for output suggested by the project team generally attracted positive responses. There was little enthusiasm, however, for the production of poster material, although some comments implied that a flyer/leaflet that conveyed the same information may be useful.

Other ideas for RiLIES2 project outputs included:

  • Tip sheets and brief, practical best/good practice guidelines on a broad range of topics: we believe that this will work best so long as content is created in a form that can be kept up to date, long-term commitment by a resource “host” would be required for this.
  • Discussion space for questions and answers related to LIS research: since the LIS community routinely uses mailing-lists to ask questions about research, it would be best to use a JISC LIS-* list for this purpose (at least for the time being, until the conversation moves elsewhere) – a key question is which mailing list should be the focus, or whether a new one should be created.
  • Link lists to resources held outside the UK – obviously their relevance would need to be considered carefully.

A further point made in poll feedback was the need to maintain awareness of the distinct groups in LIS practice and the separate needs of each. For instance, library management is a very different subject area from information retrieval. Similarly, although some information sources are general, different sectors have their own requirements.

Dissemination options

The final group of questions in the poll asked for feedback on means of publicising the RiLIES2 project’s work. Perhaps predictably – given that the majority of respondents were from the academic sector – conventional routes were the most popular. Thus a project report and associated academic papers must remain core to the project’s output. Preference was frequently expressed for papers to be published in open access journals. This may partly reflect a finding from RiLIES1 that many LIS practitioners are not aware that CILIP membership gives access to many journal titles free of charge.

What is to be done?

This survey has generally supported the assumptions that drove us to conduct this follow-up project to RiLIES1. With evidence of a low level of awareness of existing resources that support LIS research, we now intend to focus our efforts in two directions. First, we need to raise awareness of under-used extant materials. Second, we need to set in motion a strategy to address the issue of long-term commitment to resource curation. The Internet is already littered with abandoned or poorly-maintained directories and out-of-date resources. In the current environment the only realistic approach is to coordinate a community response to enhancing existing provision. This requires tools that permit a joint approach to the curation and sharing of resources.

A centrally-funded community-maintained directory of resources in a known location with (crucially) a long-term commitment to maintenance would be the most useful outcome of this project.

(The heading from this last main section of our post comes from a question «Что делать?» Lenin asked this before arguing for the need for a dedicated vanguard to spread his message of revolution. We feel that this same question may also be relevant in our search for improved research-practice linkages. It also ties up nicely with the notion of the DREaM workshop cadre developed in our sister project to RiLIES.)

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank individual practitioners for publicising and taking part in the poll. We are also grateful to Information Today Europe for helping to publicise our study.

RiLIES report highlights 3: the deployment of social media for research 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 third of the RiLIES1 highlights postings. Here we present our findings on the role of social media in enhancing the impact of research projects in practice.

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 literature reviewed for the RiLIES1 project had surprisingly little to say about social media. For example, an apparently comprehensive list of possible communication channels drawn up by Haddow and Klobas in 2004 lacked any reference to social media, even though familiar services such as blogs, RSS, and some social networking services (for example, LinkedIn) were already established at the time that this work was published.

In contrast, our own empirical study acknowledges that researchers have many options for engaging practitioners in research projects from the outset, and these can be supported by social media. One of the main purposes of adopting social media during a research project is to promote a collaborative approach to research. Practitioners who are invited to learn about projects as they unfold feel engaged with the process. In addition frustrations related to the timeliness of the “traditional” publication of research results may be addressed. When practitioners are aware of project progress, for example through reading project blog posts, they have quick access to interim results, and may therefore be encouraged to consider these in their practice immediately.

A second main finding of our work was that work-place blocking of important social media routes to research output (such as Twitter) is a significant issue for many practitioners. Such institutional practice limits the extent to which practitioners are able to keep in touch with professional peers, and leads to a feeling of exclusion from the wider community.

These two main findings suggest that (1) the deployment of social media to support dissemination strategies needs to be built into the planning stages of research projects, and (2) a significant change in practice is required in many workplaces so that staff are actually permitted access to important social media services (such as Twitter) when at work. With reference to (2) researchers need to ensure that they use multiple routes to reach practitioners so that those whose access to particular services is limited do not miss out on important project news. Given the paucity of discussion of social media’s role in the dissemination of LIS research, we also suggest that this theme merits further exploration as a research topic in its own right.

Our next RiLIES1 report highlights post will review key lessons from “impactful” research projects.

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

Reference

Haddow, G., & Klobas, J. E. (2004). Communication of research to practice in library and information science: Closing the gap. Library & Information Science Research, 26(1), 29-43.

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.