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The day after the Librarians as Teachers event was a similarly themed event focusing on a different element of the librarian role – Librarian as Researcher.

I wasn’t able to attend this event, but I followed it via Twitter thanks to @LISResearch and @lenocsor. You can see the tweets in relation to the event at the TwapperKeeper archive. Obviously, I didn’t get the benefit of attending the day’s events but I did get a flavour for the discussions and could follow up links mentioned and view presentations online.

I’m a keen advocate of research, making evidence-based decisions wherever possible. I’m involved in my own research as a librarian (for work-based projects and to inform elements of my job role), and I also spend my free time researching areas of interest -sometimes for articles, presentations or blog posts; sometimes just to increase my understanding.

One of the things I was really impressed by at LILAC 2010 was the emphasis on research-informed information literacy teaching, using both existing research and conducting original research to help make decisions about the approach to teaching.

Commitment to research by librarians is something I’d love to see more of, but I think all too often it’s overlooked as other activities take priority.

The librarian as researcher event examined the importance of research for practitioners, and I was particularly interested in Miggie Pickton’s presentation which you can see below:

As you can see, Miggie highlighted the importance of practitioner research for the individual, the organisation, and the profession. I fed my own views into this via Twitter, but was pleased to see my points (and many more!) covered by Miggie in her slides. I think it’s important to bear in mind the multiple benefits of research, otherwise it can be easy to overlook the value. Of course, research takes time and there are occasions where it may not be possible, however it should be an unusual circumstance to not research, rather than an unusual circumstance to do research, which I think may possibly be the case currently. I try to spend time researching (both from existing research and my own research), and have certainly found this beneficial in a number of projects I’ve worked on.
I was also interested to hear about the opportunities for publishing research – so far most of my publications have been to professional journals and magazines, but only a couple have been through the peer-review process. Having heard more about some of the options for publication, it’s definitely spurred me on to think about where to publish my work in future, and given me some ideas for what to publish. I particularly liked Miggie’s point; Where do you find research? Publish your research there!
The event also featured a talk from Sheila Corrall about opportunities for research including an interesting option of a PhD through a practitioner route for professionals. I also found out about some more funding opportunities to look out for, and the Sheila Corrall Publication Award aimed at new professionals – this is definitely something I’ll be looking at in more detail.
You can view more detailed reports on the event from attendees at the LIS Research blog, and on the CILIP UCR Yorkshire and Humberside website for more information.
Being actively involved in research helps keep you up-to-date in your knowledge, and supports your own development as well as building upon the professional body of knowledge. It’s something I’m really interested in and I’m looking forward to following the LIS Research Conference later this month.

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  • Do you not think that librarians’ day jobs include elements of research though?

    When I was sythesising all the available models of information literacy for my librarianship MSc, I worked on the thesis that librarianship overlaps 100% with information literacy since we can’t teach what we don’t know.

    One or more element(s) of IL is basically research – so ergo librarians do research per se.

    • Yes, I totally agree – much of my time as a subject librarian is spent researching or helping develop others’ research skills.

      The focus of this event however is actively engaging in practitioner research to develop the professional body of knowledge and lead to a more evidence-based approach to librarianship – whether that’s information literacy, cataloguing, collection development, using social media, website development, etc, etc. From my experience, not every librarian is actively involved in research or publishing their research, and I think it’s something we should be doing more of.

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  • This is really cool though, I’m glad we agree! I also think that doing formal research makes library work per se more interesting because you get up-to-date with current trends in the profession/tech/society etc. and also get to try them out for yourself.

    It should be a two-way process; should be natural for us to engage in formal research because our profession is so closely linked to it already.

  • Ruth Baxter

    Thanks so much for this Joeyanne – I’m going to go look up the conf now. I think there is a real difference about being involved in elements of research eg information searching; and in being able to make more workplace decisions on the outcomes of full research ie searching through to data gathering through to analysis through to evaluation.

    This sort of focus helps people like me who get caught up in new fads, ensuring that there is a demonstrated need for something from your people before pushing it out.

    • Glad you found it useful Ruth. 🙂

      I agree, it’s easy to get carried away with trying new things because they’re exciting but it’s important to take a step back every now and again to ensure they’re of use.

    • Hi Ruth

      It would be great if you could join us at the LIS Research Coalition conference on Monday 28th June at the British Library in London. It sounds like you would have lots to contribute as well as take away from the event. The full details are here: http://lisresearch.org/conference-2010/

      You may also be interested in a couple of papers that have come out of the work that I have been doing with the LIS Research Coalition. One is in the current issue of the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science (full text at http://bit.ly/jolis_pub) and the other will be published by Library and Information Science Research in January next year (full text of manuscript available here: http://bit.ly/res_matters) Enjoy!

      Hazel

      • Ruth Baxter

        HI Hazel

        Thanks heaps for your papers. I’m based in Melbourne, Australia so won’t get funded to Britain this year, but will watch the program with interest.

        Cheers, Ruth

  • Hi Jo,
    Thanks for posting this. Just wondering, was Sheila Corrall talking about a particular programme when discussing the practitioner route to a PhD, or just speaking generally about the idea of taking this route?

    • Hi Niamh
      Re professional/practitioner doctorates, I was both talking about this type of programme in general terms, drawing on the widely available professional doctorates in Education and Business in the UK, as well as the much more recent development of practitioner doctorates in Information Studies (mainly in the US at present) and also discussing our plans at Sheffield to introduce a programme of this type. Our planning is at an early stage at present, but we hope to progress things in time to recruit students for 2011-12 (i.e. starting in October 2011). I have been very encouraged by the positive interest shown in this model at the few meetings where I have mentioned it to date. If you have questions or suggestions about it, do get in touch.

      • Many thanks for clarification Sheila. This sounds like a really interesting development, something I’ll definitely be following with interest. I had some really interesting discussions when chatting to colleagues from the US at LILAC 2010 who are tenured academic librarians – it’s great to see such an emphasis on research to develop professional knowledge.

        • That does sound really interesting, thank you for clarifying. I’ll certainly watch out for it when it comes online.

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