Studying?! by J.Salmoral

When I should have been writing my dissertation in 2009 I wrote a few articles for publication, but in the last 12-18 months my writing has pretty much stalled apart from blogging which I continue to do on a regular basis, and occasional articles for regional newsletters (because I’m on committees and sometimes get asked to write something up for the newsletter). Most of my publications have been in newsletter and magazines – I’ve only been through the peer-review process once and it was an event report so not as rigorous as a research article.

Writing is one of my focus areas for my Chartership, and something I’d like to improve, particularly with publishing my research in peer-reviewed journals (or professional journals). There have been some interesting discussions on the value of peer-review recently on Twitter and blogs, and it’s something I am still deciding my view on – I see the value in sharing via a blog (mainly for the currency and immediacy factor), but for research articles the longevity and kudos of a peer-reviewed journal make it far more appealing. I’m keen to support Open Access and would rather publish in an open access publication that I could also link to via my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

In order to try to get back on track with writing, last week I attended the first of a two-part workshop on Writing for Publication. Below are my notes from the day (probably only of use to others who use lists – sorry!):

Getting started

Why do research and write about it?
  • Pass on knowledge to others (within and outside workplace)
  • Self reflection
  • Sharing lessons learned (so others don’t make same mistakes)
  • Share good practice
  • Open up new ideas
  • Boost CV
  • Promote library service
  • Prevent reinventing the wheel
Challenges and solutions:
TimeSet yourself a deadline or tie it in to work targets
Trying to make it perfectGet feedback from someone you trust the opinion of (it's probably better than you think!)
Knowing when to stopSet clear boundaries before starting research
Procrastination/lazinessChivvying mentor
Thinking it's not going to interest anyonePass to someone you know will give honest opinion or ask people before you start to write
Not fun to writeWrite about things you are passionate about if you can or make process more interesting
Writing styles

Good article:
  • Clarity
  • Structure/sections
  • Strong, recognisable words and phrases
  • Attractive layout
  • Clear reason for reading it
  • Clear summary
  • Good conclusions
Bad article:
  • Long words unnecessarily
  • Too many acronyms
  • Title not matching content
  • Silliness
  • Changing statistic styles (not clear)
  • Repackaging same information
Common paper structure
  • Introduction (often written last)
  • Literature review – concluding with clear demonstration of gap in literature and justification for article
  • Aims/objectives (key to the article to help hold it all together) – this might just be the aims and objectives of the article rather than the larger project
  • Methods – need to be good enough to enable someone else to replicate research
  • Results – use chart if relevant but don’t then repeat in article
  • Discussion – look at what you have done and compare to other literature, and suggest limitations of your research or perhaps why you got results you weren’t expecting
  • Conclusion – summary of what you have done and what you found (shouldn’t have anything new that hasn’t already been said)
Submission process
  1. Article goes to editor
  2. Editor removes any identifying details
  3. Editor allocates 2 appropriate peer reviewers
  4. Peer review send back comments within certain timeframe
  5. Editor makes decision based on peer review and own comments
  6. Decision to author (with constructive feedback)
  7. Author completes revisions and sends back to editor (useful to highlight what changes you have made i.e. how you have made them)
  8. Editor verifies revisions and edits article
  9. Check back with author
  10. Send to copyeditor
  11. Check back with author (final chance to make sure you as author are happy with final article)
  12. Final edits
  13. Layout
  14. Final proofread
  15. Publication!
General tips:
  • Find what works best for you
    • Time of day
    • Approach – either starting with structure and fleshing out each section or just getting everything down and editing later
    • Motivators – what will motivate you to write? Rewards? Getting housework done first or leave until after?
  • Useful to have someone checking on your progress and keeping it on track to make sure you stick to your timescale and targets.
  • Start small – newsletters, blogs, in house journal, website
  • Choose who your audience is and which journal to approach (look at some of the other articles) – email before writing to see if it would be appropriate for the journal. Two to consider might be:
    • Library and Information Research
    • Evidence Based Librarianship in Practice
  • Ask other people if they know which journal might be a good fit for your article
  • Read other articles and critically appraise (can use a tool/matrix to help with this)
  • If you find a structure that you like, use it as a template
  • Make sure you read the guidelines for the journal
  • If writing for field outside LIS, consider co-authoring with someone in that field

What next?

I’m attending the second of these workshops on Monday and have been set homework to do before then – an outline structure for an article and finding a potential journal to approach. I have a few ideas of articles I’d like to publish but I am particularly keen to share our experiences from CPD23. I’ve made contact with potential collaborators and am now starting to plan some ideas. I’d also like to consider publishing some of my dissertation more widely, particularly the market orientation aspect. I’d also like to write up some of the work I’ve been doing at Evidence Base – we write so many reports but don’t tend to take time to write up articles. I’m aiming to get at least one peer-reviewed research article published this year, so fingers crossed I can keep my motivation going and get something good enough to be accepted!

My MSc Econ dissertation titled ‘Strategic marketing in academic libraries: an examination of current practice‘ is now available on Aberystwyth University’s open access repository.

I know a number of people said they were interested in viewing it so I’ve included the details below. I have also added it to my publications page.

Strategic marketing in academic libraries: an investigation of current practice

The purpose of the research is to investigate strategic marketing in academic libraries, incorporating elements of organisational orientation, strategic planning, and processes and procedures to support these.

Aims and objectives
The aim of the research is to build on existing literature, extending the knowledge of current practice in a relatively unexplored area within UK academic libraries. The objectives of the research are to identify key considerations for strategic marketing in academic libraries; to critically evaluate current theory on the subject; to explore current practice; and to formulate recommendations of best practice.

A mixed methods approach was chosen, using survey and case study strategies. An online questionnaire was used identify trends in current practice, whilst telephone interviews enabled more detailed exploration. A geographical sample, university libraries in the West Midlands, was chosen due to convenience. All nine libraries were invited to participate; one chose to opt out whilst one did not respond. This resulted in seven libraries participating in the questionnaire, with five of those also participating in an interview.

The key considerations for strategic marketing in academic libraries emerging from the literature included market orientation, marketing planning and customer relationship management. Results showed that though market orientation is seen as a useful approach for libraries, the topic is relatively unfamiliar to librarians. Responsibility for marketing
planning varied across the libraries interviewed, though all but one utilise groups to bring experience from different areas of the library. All participating libraries have some form of marketing plan and engage in customer relationship management activities, however formal procedures and embedding into service planning was not evident.

Strategic marketing in academic libraries is of clear relevance to today’s economic situation, and the research highlights the need for raising awareness of such issues and considering implications and barriers to practice.

The item record is available in Aberystwyth University’s Cadair repository with the full text PDF linked from the item record.

EDITED TO ADD: This is likely to be my final blog post before Christmas this year, so I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! If you feel like doing something fun over the festive period, why not enter the Festive 24 Things 2011 quiz?

So it’s finally all over – today I received confirmation that I have successfully passed my Masters, in fact I passed with distinction!

Pass with distinction

Pass with distinction

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This week I’m participating in the Library Day in the Life project which charts the day-to-day activities of library workers at different points of the year. This is the fifth time I’ve participated; you can see my earlier posts from July 2009, January 2010, July 2010 and January 2011. I’m currently a full-time Researcher at Evidence Base, Birmingham City University, UK. Although my job title doesn’t include the word librarian and I don’t work in a library, I still consider myself very much a librarian – our research helps support the library and information communities.

I decided to do Library Day in the Life a little different this time round; partly because I’ve been busy, and partly as I’m not sure verbatim accounts are the most interesting thing to write or read. So instead I’ll be writing a summary of what I’ve been up to this week (using Nirvana, my to do list, to help me as I can check my logbook to see what tasks I’ve finished). My work life and professional interests often cross over so this list includes some pure work tasks, and other professional related tasks such as committee work and studying. Read the rest of this entry »

Sax player by romexico

Sax 1 by chickadee

(Post title will probably be lost on you if you haven’t been watching Treme on Sky Atlantic, but my boyfriend has been singing it constantly the last couple of days!)

I mentioned in my post at the start of the year that I wanted to attend more conferences this year, and in particular my first international conference. I’ve now stopped jumping around ecstatically and can share the news that I’m going to ALA Annual in June this year (it’s in New Orleans hence the Treme and jazz references!).

Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t usually make public resolutions (or any resolutions come to think of it), but I’m a very reflective person always looking back and planning for future, so I thought it would probably make sense to record some of my hopes for 2011. I’m not going to make anything too concrete – the nature of much of my professional work is very flexible so it’s difficult to plan longer term. But here’s a list of some of the things I would definitely like to do this year.

  • Complete my MSc dissertation – so it’s obvious that my motivation has slipped on this as I have favoured speaking at conferences and writing for publications and blogs, however this year I must complete my MSc as I have a deadline of September 2011 (a whole 5 years since I started my course in 2006). I’ve finished paying for it now too, so it’ll be worth the effort to complete the qualification. I am really interested in my topic area (strategic marketing in academic libraries), I’ve just been bad at bringing it to the top of the priorities as it didn’t have to be done, but now it does.
  • Attend more conferences – whether it’s speaking or attending (I gain a lot from both), I really want to get out there this year and attend some great conferences. I learn so much from attending events and chatting to people, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to do more of this in 2011. I’m currently exploring and applying for funding, so we’ll see if anything comes of that. I would particularly like to attend ALA Annual this year so a lot of effort/planning is going into that (keeping everything crossed I can organise funding), and I’d also love to go to CILIP Umbrella as I haven’t yet been to the biennial CILIP conference and it would be great to attend.
  • Implement the Getting Things Done system at both my home office and at work – I’ve always been keen on using to-do lists and calendars to manage my time, but I’ve recently been learning more about the GTD methodology and would like to properly organise both my workspaces at home (I often work from home) and in the office (we’ll be moving offices soon so this will be a good opportunity to get properly set up).
  • Participate in Library Day in the Life – many people have asked me what I do in my new job and it’s very difficult to describe, so I’ll be participating in the Library Day in the Life project again this year to hopefully share a bit of what I get up to nowadays. It’s a really great project to get involved in so I’d encourage anyone reading to consider joining in too, you can read all about it here and see some of my previous Library Day in the Life posts.
  • Continue to blog – obvious one this, and I don’t imagine it will be a difficult one for me. I find blogging so incredibly useful to gather my thoughts, get feedback from my peers, and reflect on what I’ve learnt. I contribute to a number of blogs now, and the number continues to grow, but I hope to continue blogging here as my main area for sharing my thoughts and experiences. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it is I’m genuinely passionate about and what drives me to do the work I do. I think my blog changes direction to reflect my interests, but I like having the space to share these thoughts and keep a record of them.

Those are the main things I hope to achieve in 2011, let’s hope I manage to achieve them. If you have any resolutions you’d like to share (I know for some people this acts as a motivator), please feel free to add them in the comments.

Man and woman toasting martini glasses, close up of hands

Continuing on the tradition from 2008 and 2009, it’s time for my end of year blog post. As a naturally reflective person, I find it very useful to reflect back on my achievements of the year and consider what to focus on next. It’s also useful to look at my previous end of year posts and look back at what I’ve done in the last few years.

So what did 2010 bring? Well, I certainly satisfied that itch I mentioned this time last year! Read the rest of this entry »

The words big deal written on a sheet of paper

The time has finally come – I just can’t put it off any more! I’ve been taking a break from studying whilst I settle into my new job, but I can’t really use that excuse anymore as I’ve been in this job for over a year now.

I’ve been researching ideas for my dissertation for a while now, and have been spending a lot of time reading, researching and thinking – now it’s time to do some real work. I’ve been talking to lots of people about my ideas; I must mention special thanks to Sarah Oxford from University of Worcester who I visited in the summer (for a totally different reason!) and really inspired me to start properly thinking about my dissertation and continue research in a similar area to her own.

I have finally narrowed down my topic to marketing in HE libraries in the UK, although I’m still refining the methodology. Having worked on a part-time basis with my boyfriend and his marketing business, I am interested in the strategic marketing side of things, as I feel libraries should probably be doing more of this. I’d like to find out what, if any, market research UK academic libraries are currently involved in, if they have a marketing strategy, and who holds responsibility for the direction of the marketing.

I’m also interested in innovative marketing methods, and hope to do a case study approach for a few of these. I would like to know more about how academic libraries in the UK are currently using social media, so one of these may be good as a case study (e.g. a successful library blog/Facebook/Twitter account) but from a marketing point of view rather than a technical point of view.

I submitted a dissertation proposal earlier this month but haven’t heard anything back yet. The working title is “Marketing UK Higher Education libraries: a current perspective”. I imagine there will be some alterations and suggestions for improvement, but I hope the research area is agreed in principle and that I can be assigned a dissertation supervisor soon. I have to be honest, I have found distance learning difficult – it’s great to be able to work at your own pace and when I was really keen to work through the Diploma everything was fine, but it’s been isolating at times, especially when home life or work life takes over and you lose motivation for studying. I went to the research study school to prepare for the dissertation in September 2008, which seems like a lifetime away now.

Hopefully I’ll be able to start work on my dissertation properly next year, and if you work in a UK academic library (and particularly if you have responsibility for marketing!) I may well be in touch begging for help!

This may well be my last blog post before Christmas – if so, Seasons Greetings to all readers and I hope you enjoy the festivities whatever you get up to. 🙂