LIS DREaM closing conference #lis_dream5

On Monday I attended the LIS DREaM closing conference at the British Library. Having found the previous LIS DREaM opening conference incredibly interesting (see blog post) and enjoyed participating in the LIS DREaM cadre workshops (see blog posts on workshop 1, workshop 2 and workshop 3) I had hoped to attend and was delighted to be invited to participate in the panel discussion in the afternoon.

The conference acted as a final summary of the LIS DREaM project (the funding comes to an end soon) and Hazel Hall opened the day with an overview of the project, its aims and outcomes. The evidence collected so far certainly proves that the project has been a success; it has built research capacity and capability, raised quality and standards (specifically in research training, practice, output, value, impact and influence) and secured a foundation for future research collaborations, particularly for those of us involved in the cadre and also for many who have followed the workshops from the excellent resources and options for virtual followers. The concluding conference (open to all) built on that with the keynotes and discussions during the day.

The morning keynote session was from Professor Carol Tenopir from the University of Tennessee. I have come across much of Carol’s work in the area of value and impact of library and information services, but hadn’t heard her speak before. Carol gave an excellent overview of why measuring the value and impact of library and information services is so important, what methods we might use, and how to communicate the information to different stakeholders (and even adapt the methods used depending on stakeholders and what appeals to them most). For example, Carol mentioned that for her institution, the senior managers are far more interested in the human side of things so they appeal to this by presenting quantitative and qualitative data as a portrait of success i.e. “here’s what the successful people do and how they use our library resources and services to support them”. For other organisations it might be that the headline figures are what matters in which case it will be important to collect relevant data to enable calculation of things such as purchase value. Carol also gave some information about the LIBvalue project which I will definitely be keeping an eye on. See the slides or video of her keynote for more information.

We then had 20 minutes of madness in the form of one minute madness presentations. I really like this approach to finding out about a lot of projects in a short space of time. Some of the people presenting had timed it perfectly too, very impressive! A particular highlight for me this time was finding out about how University of Northampton support their staff and encourage research across the library at all levels – Miggie Pickton spoke about some of the ways they encourage this, and Charlotte Heppell spoke about research active, the library and learning services conference which aimed to highlight research from the library to internal and external colleagues.

After lunch we had an invited speaker, Dr Louise Cooke from Loughborough University, who presented her findings from the social network analysis she did with the LIS DREaM cadre. We completed a survey for Louise at the first workshop, and again at the third workshop and she was able to demonstrate how the network had strengthened (fortunately for the LIS DREaM project!). It was interesting to see the clusters of connections, particularly when linked to job roles. Take a look at the slides or video to see the network before and after.

One of the few screenshots from the panel discussion I could get without my hands flailing around (which I seem to do a lot when talking)

Following Louise’s presentation, it was time for the panel discussion which I was involved in. It also included Professor Carol Tenopir and Dr Louise Cooke, as well as John Dolan, Chair of CILIP Council. I was there to represent the LIS DREaM cadre and discuss ways to sustain the network that the project has begun to build. Although I don’t have any answers yet, I found the discussion worthwhile. As well as sharing my views and those of others who had completed my short survey, it also questioned some of the ideas and thoughts I have had and I think it helped us to begin to move to the stage where ideas can start to become actions; as the LIS Research Coalition’s involvement decreases due to funding, it’s up to us as a community to continue the progress. (Related to this, the LIS RiLIES event the following day built on this in terms of sharing research outputs and having followed the tweets from this I’m looking forward to seeing what the outcomes of that will be). If you’re interested in watching to the panel discussion you can view the video.

Ben Goldacre at LIS DREaM conference

Following a presentation of the LIS Research Practitioner award to the North West Clinical Librarian Systematic Review and Evaluation Group, we then had the afternoon keynote given by Ben Goldacre. I’ve followed Ben on Twitter for a while now and was looking forward to hearing him speak. He was a very engaging speaker and I found it fascinating (and eye opening!) hearing about some of the ways drug companies manipulate what data gets published, as well as the ways the publishing mechanisms are skewed towards publishing positive results. In the medical world it’s obviously particularly important to ensure the information available to doctors (and patients) is the full picture, but at present the evidence base is skewed. Though it’s unlikely anyone will die if this is the case in LIS research, it’s obviously beneficial for everyone if there is wider reporting of both successes and failures. I know some of the most popular conference sessions are when people are brave enough to share the things that went wrong for their projects and how others might be able to avoid them. Ben didn’t use his slides but you may want to watch the video of his talk once it is available.

The day closed with some networking drinks and a prize draw. Sadly I wasn’t fortunate enough to win a book but I did get to see my name in print as I wrote a case study for Bethan Ruddock’s New Professional’s Toolkit (which she signed for those who won copies).

I found the day useful for reflection purposes, and particularly in terms of dissemination; I know it’s a weakness of mine in my research. I often present at conferences and events but rarely publish my research in practitioner or research publications (largely due to time constraints). I’m going to make a real effort to make time in future though as it’s so important for those wanting to continue research further or inform their practice. I’m also hoping I (and my colleagues at Evidence Base) can help sustain the network of LIS research by supporting publications, events and networking. Let’s keep the DREaM going!

I’m planning to collect more data on what people think about LIS research in the future and hope to write it up as a guest blog post for the LIS Research Coalition. I’ve reopened the survey and would really appreciate your response. It’s just five questions (posed by Charles Oppenheim) and should only take a few minutes to respond. All questions are optional so if some aren’t as relevant to you leave them blank. Please also feel free to pass the link to others. Thanks for your help.

Take part in the LIS RiLIES2 project poll

From the LIS RiLIES2 project:

LIS RiLIES logo

LIS RiLIES logo

Which freely available online resources do you consult to find relevant library and information science (LIS) research to help with your job?

Where would you go if you wanted to access advice online on how to set up a new research project of your own?

The RiLIES2 project research team is currently working on the production of some new research resources and training materials. These are intended to support librarians and information scientists in the use of published LIS research in their work. Additionally they will serve as reference tools for librarians and information scientists interested in conducting research projects of their own.

We are keen to ensure that we do not replicate existing provision of resources, and to identify the best format and “home” for the resources that we produce. To this end we invite you to complete a short poll. Its purpose is to find out which of the existing resources that support librarians and information scientists use and/or conduct research are (a) well used and/or (b) respected.

The poll is aimed at LIS professionals who are based in the UK, but if you live in another country, we would still be interested in your answers.

Please follow this link to take part: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/878039/RiLIES-2-Initial-Poll. The poll will remain open until the end of April.

RiLIES2 project is a follow-on project from RiLIES1. RiLIES1 explored the extent to which funded librarianship research projects influence library practice in the UK. Download the RiLIES1 project report Enhancing the impact of LIS research projects.

Was it all a DREaM?

Last week I attended the launch conference for the LIS DREaM (Developing Research Excellence and Measures) project. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I hadn’t anticipated so many delegates from such a variety of different backgrounds – researchers of course, but also practitioners, project workers, and other interested parties. It had even attracted some international delegates who came over just for the day!

LIS DREaM Launch Conference

Networking at the LIS DREaM conference from eventamplifier on Flickr

The day began with an introduction from Hazel Hall, who talked about how the project began and what its aims were. She talked about building a cadre of LIS researchers. Merriam-Webster defines the term cadre as:

a nucleus or core group especially of trained personnel able to assume control and to train others; broadly : a group of people having some unifying relationship <a cadre of lawyers>

Hazel focused on the need for a cadre as a group of committed individuals to form backbone to support a sustainable network of LIS researchers. I like this concept, and hope I can be a part of it. I was particularly pleased to hear about the upcoming workshops introducing researchers to different research approaches, techniques and practicalities – that’s definitely something I am keen to learn more about.

The launch event was a good balance between examining the past, current and future situation to LIS Research. The first keynote by Professor Blaise Cronin was interesting to set the scene for the day – he talked about the history of LIS research, its current strengths and weaknesses, and what we can do to improve. He discussed the fact that much of LIS research is replications of tried and tested methods – he referred to it as a ‘cookie cutter’ approach (Information needs of ___, A Citation Profile of ___ etc.) – we need to break out of this.

LIS DREaM Launch Conference

One minute madness klaxon

We then heard from some brave attendees who had signed up for one minute madness – an interesting way of learning about a lot of current research in a short space of time (they all kept to time really well so there was hardly any need for the klaxon!).

I’ve seen the one minute madness on video before but never live – the people who volunteered for it are very brave! You do have a timer though and of course can practice the script beforehand, but it’s difficult to say much in just 60 seconds.

After a lunch break, we broke out into different workshops. For me, this was one of the highlights of the day. I went to a session called “Extending your research methods repertoire” and heard more about the Delphi method, cooperative enquiry, and community consultation. We discussed each of these in groups to consider the pros and cons of each method. My group examined the Delphi method and our basic conclusion was the the selection of the ‘experts’ to use for the study was both a strength and a weakness. Selection of the group of experts is really key to the success of this method, but it was interesting to consider how the method could be used in practice.

LIS DREaM Launch Conference - Breakout Session Results

Delphi Method - pros

LIS DREaM Launch Conference - Breakout Session Results

Delphi Method - cons

Following breakout workshops we came back together to hear from each of the sessions (chaired by the lovely Biddy Fisher), and we had the closing keynote from Dr Dylan Evans who spoke about the importance of being promiscuous in terms of research collaboration.

You can see all the resources from the day (presentations, videos, photos, and other reviews) linked to from the event page.

The main themes I took from the day were the value of collaboration and cross-disciplinary research, and the importance of ensuring LIS research is relevant to LIS practitioners, and ideally of interest to those outside the profession. Thanks to all involved in organising such a great event! :)

Can you help the LIS RiLIES project?

The LIS RiLIES project (Research in Librarianship – Impact Evaluation Study) is looking at the impact of funded librarianship projects on LIS practitioners. As a follow up to their survey (results here), the project is now interested in hearing from anyone who has used research in day-to-day practice, or maybe as a starting point for a new project or to help develop a report or paper.

One of the projects chosen is Evidence Base’s Evalued toolkit to help with evaluation of electronic information sources. LIS RiLIES has spoken to Evidence Base about the project, but are now interested to hear from anyone who has used the toolkit.

Here’s a full list of the projects:

  • The study on public library policy and social exclusion Open To All coordinated by Dave Muddiman and reported back in 2000.
  • The eValued project in which Pete Dalton and others developed a toolkit to support library and information services staff in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the evaluation of electronic information services (EIS). This work was completed between 2004 and 2006.
  • The Research Information Network’s (RIN) 2006 study into Researchers’ use of academic libraries funded by RIN and CURL and completed by Key Perspectives.
  • The Future of school libraries project carried out by Sue Shaper and David Streatfield for CILIP’s School Libraries Group. This reported its results in 2010.
  • The project entitled Evaluating the impact of clinical librarian services led by Alison Brettle and the North West (England) healthcare librarians group in 2009.

If you have used any of these in practice, please use the contact form on the LIS RiLIES blog post to let them know.