Links between research and practice: the health and medical librarians’ perspectives

The last of our three RiLIES projects focus groups took place at The Sixth International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference (EBLIP6) in Salford on Tuesday last week. This was kindly organised with the help of Alison Brettle and Maria Grant, the conference chairs of EBLIP6.

Jenny Gebel and Ella Taylor-Smith

RiLIES project team members Jenny Gebel and Ella Taylor-Smith

Once again the RiLIES project team members enjoyed the conversations with LIS practitioners, this time with those working in the health and medical sectors. On this occasion Ella Taylor-Smith facilitated the discussion, with Jenny Gebel and Hazel Hall in attendance.

As has been the case with the other focus groups, the conversation kicked off with initial reactions to the broad research question of the RiLIES project: “To what extent does the output of UK funded librarianship research projects influence the practice of librarianship?” The main themes that emerged from the discussion were: the levels of engagement with research that this community enjoys; the comparative value of traditional textual publications in librarianship and medicine/healthcare as sources of information on research of relevance to the practice of librarianship; the use of electronic sources to raise awareness of research; and opportunities for face-to-face information and knowledge sharing.

The data collected will be analysed in full with that collected from the focus groups earlier this month with public librarians in Perth and academic librarians in London.

The focus group gathering also provided an 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. (The DREaM project launch conference takes place on Tuesday 19th July at the British Library Conference Centre in London. There are still places available, but hurry – registrations close on Monday 11th July.)

Further updates about the RiLIES project will continue to be tweeted from @LIS_RiLIES. There is still an opportunity for LIS practitioners across all sectors to contribute further by telling us if, and how, they have used the output of any of the five case study projects identified for this study. We will also be distributing a final survey in the next few days, so please look out for this.

RiLIES focus group, Salford

Discussions at the RiLIES focus group in Salford

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.

EBLIP6 report: day 1, Tuesday 28th June 2011

Dr Katie Fraser

Dr Katie Fraser

The second of our EBLIP6 reviews is by Dr Katie Fraser, Information Librarian, Leicester University (@katie_fraser. Over to Katie…

The day kicked off with a quick welcome from Tony Warne: Head of the School of Nursing at the University of Salford, talking about information literacy and the teacher-student relationship. He was followed by the first of the conference keynotes, Peter Brophy. Peter took us through the role of narrative in evidence-based practice, from the stories that our users tell about our information services, to its underlying importance in capturing the complexity of our own everyday practice. It was a great start to the day, and by the end of the session I’d already had a conversation on Twitter channel with an envious follower of the feed wishing that they were here!

I attended parallel sessions on academic libraries and information literacy, both everyday strands of my own work. Several of the talks picked up on Peter’s ideas about the complexity inherent in library work, particularly those talks focusing on assessment and the challenges of reducing complex information behaviours to a mark scheme! I’ll definitely be considering some of these ideas in my own teaching. However, my favourite talk looked outside the world of library instruction. Allyson Washburn and Sheila Bibb – who teaches an Applied Anthropology course – had asked anthropology students to conduct a series of ethnographic studies on student use of the library as coursework. It was fascinating to hear how the students had investigated the same topic from a variety of different angles, and there was also food for thought about the untapped opportunities academic librarians have to collaborate with departments in order to gather evidence: recruiting social scientists to help us gather evidence, computer scientists to develop our online services, and so on.

Former colleagues Jenny Craven and Peter Brophy catch up at coffee break

Former colleagues Jenny Craven and Professor Peter Brophy catch up at coffee break

The session I enjoyed most, however, was a little bit more outside my professional comfort zone, the post-lunch discussion on ‘Theory and Models of EBLIP’. I was hoping to get an overview of how researchers and practitioners saw evidence-based practice from this conference, and the talks complemented each other perfectly in answering this question. First Helen Partridge asked us to challenge what constitutes evidence in library and information practice. She suggested that most of our ideas about evidence-based practice were inherited, and that we need to consider what constitutes ‘good’ evidence in our own profession, and demonstrate that its use can transform practice. Denise Koufogiannakis followed this up with a discussion about the non-traditional types of evidence that library and information professionals use: ‘local evidence’, like user feedback, usage data and observations gained in context; and ‘professional knowledge’, which is often tacit (highly contextual and difficult to explain) or produced by reflection on our own practice. Finally, Barbara Sen and Chris Lee spoke about evidence and reflection. Both, they emphasised, are about critically examining everyday practice. Each uses a different approach to examine that practice, but in the end they’re highly complementary: no research could begin without reflection on potential explanations and approaches to studying a problem.

Overall, it’s interesting to hear that the library and information community is only just starting to reach an overview of how it sees and uses evidence-based practice itself. I’m looking forward to hearing more about how the EBLIP community views evidence – and attempts to handle its complexity within the profession – in the next couple of days.

Valuing knowledge and expertise: reporting from EBLIP6

Salford University logo This week the sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) Conference takes place in Salford, Greater Manchester. The LIS Research Coalition is pleased to be a sponsor of the event. Coalition activities at the conference include:

It was also possible for the last of the RiLIES project focus groups with librarians working in medicine and healthcare to be scheduled to take place at the conference.

The four winners of the sponsored places are reporting on each of the four days. Their reviews will be posted to this blog over the course of the week.

Sponsored delegates at EBLIP6

Winners of sponsored places Alison Millis, Katrina Dalziel, Katie Fraser & Paolo Gardois

CILIP Update and Gazette draws on the expertise of Coalition project staff and previews EBLIP6

Last month team members working on the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) responded to a request for information from freelance journalist Debby Raven. Debby was preparing an article on evidence-based librarianship in CILIP Update with Gazette. This article has now been published, and provides an interesting review of some of the current thinking on evidence based librarianship from key advocates of the approach in the UK. If you’re a member of CILIP you can click through to the June 2011 issue of CILIP Update with Gazette to read Debby’s article online.

The article also previews the sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) conference which takes place at the University of Salford, 27-30 June 2011. The LIS Research Coalition is one of the sponsors of EBLIP6.

eblip6 image The Coalition has organised a panel session on publishing entitled “Meet the editors” as part of the conference programme on Thursday 30 June, and funded four places for UK delegates at the event. Professor Hazel Hall is delivering a keynote presentation at the conference, and chairing one of the sessions. On the Tuesday the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) project team will be in Salford to run the third of the RiLIES project focus groups with librarians working in medicine and healthcare.

If you are unable to attend sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) conference in person, you can follow it remotely by tracking the conference Twitter hashtag #eblip6. There is also the option of remote registration with access to streaming and recorded video (for a fee), the details of which are given on the conference FAQ page.

Congratulation to the winners of sponsored places at EBLIP6

The LIS Research Coalition is delighted to announce that its four sponsored places at the Sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) Conference have been awarded to:

  • Katrina Dalziel, Deputy Subject Librarian (Medicine), Swansea University (@Dalziel1)
  • Katie Fraser, Information Librarian, Leicester University (@katie_fraser)
  • Paolo Gardois, PhD Research Student, Sheffield University (@paologardois)
  • Alison Millis, Training and Outreach Manager, Library and Knowledge Services, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust (@alisonmillis)

Winners EBLIP6

The conference takes place in Salford from 27th to 30th June 2011. The award winners will play an active role as members of the LIS Research Coalition rapporteur team at EBLIP6 and contribute reviews of some of the conference sessions that they attend to the LIS Research Coalition blog.

For further information about EBLIP6, please see the conference web site.

Apply for a Coalition-sponsored place at EBLIP6, Salford, 28-30 June 2011

The LIS Research Coalition is pleased to sponsor four places at the Sixth Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP6) Conference, which takes place in Salford from 27th to 30th June 2011. The places will be awarded to PhD students registered for their doctoral studies at a UK university and LIS practitioners based within the UK.

In exchange for the sponsored places, the award winners will play an active role as members of the LIS Research Coalition rapporteur team at EBLIP6, and contribute reviews of some of the conference sessions that they attend. Hazel Hall, who will be at the conference with her laptop, will add the reviews to the Coalition’s blog over the course of the event.

To apply for a place, please complete an application form (see below), ensuring that you select the one appropriate to your main status: PhD student or LIS practitioner. (If you are studying part-time while working, please use the LIS practitioner form and note your part-time student status on it.) We are interested in receiving applications from candidates who combine a keen interest in LIS research with an ability to grasp the key points of a discussion quickly. Members of our rapporteur team need to be able to synthesise points concisely in writing in order to communicate them effectively to a wider audience. Thus how you express yourself in your application for a sponsored place is as important as your reasons for wishing to attend the conference itself.

NB the awards cover the conference registration fee only. Therefore successful candidates will need to access funding from elsewhere to cover additional expenses such as travel, subsistence and accommodation. Suggested funding sources include the award winners’ home institutions/employers, and the support offered by professional bodies. For example, students will be encouraged to apply for a UKeIG Student Conference Grant. The registration page on the EBLIP6 web site lists a number of other sources of funding that are of relevance to students and practitioners alike.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 2nd May 2011. Applications will be judged soon afterwards and winners notified by the end of May.

Any queries about the awards should be addressed to Hazel Hall.

Application forms

EBLIP6 Conference Award – PhD student application form
EBLIP6 Conference Award – practitioner application form