LIS DREaM logoNext week I’ll be participating in a panel discussion at the LIS DREaM (Developing Research Excellence and Methods) closing conference on the topic of the future of LIS research (tweets on #lis_dream5 if you’re interested in following). I have my own views on this (some of which are in the interview questions I was asked to respond to), but at the conference I’ll be mainly representing the views of the LIS DREaM cadre (i.e. those of us who have attended the LIS DREaM workshops). I’d like to understand other’s views too so if you are part of the LIS DREaM cadre or if you have an interest in LIS research I’d really appreciate it if you could complete this brief survey (all questions optional so you can just complete those you feel are relevant to you): http://bit.ly/MIEp6J

Thanks very much for your help and hope to see some of you at the conference.

Focus Group toolkit

My focus group toolkit

One of the things I’ve learnt to do in my job as a researcher is to facilitate focus groups. I’ve attended a number of focus groups with colleagues now, so last week it was time to be responsible for facilitating one myself. Encouraged by my chartership mentor, I decided to reflect on this on my blog as I know many librarians are involved in focus groups and it tends to be a key area people are interested in advice on. Read the rest of this entry »

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:
ChallengeSolution
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!

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 sixth time I’ve participated; you can see my earlier posts from July 2009, January 2010, July 2010, January 2011 and July 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.

Today I was working from home which usually means I can get a lot more done, but today my brain seemed to be on slow mode. I did get things done in the end but I worked into the evening to get everything done, which I’m really trying to get out of the habit of doing. My to-do list also seemed to grow rather than shrink today – I’d get one task done and need to add another two or three! So what did I actually do today?

My day began with some sorting and planning – prepping for a couple of calls, organising my tasks, and keeping project documentation up-to-date. Then I had a call with my manager where we discussed things we’re up to at the moment – project progress for the m-library community support project and JUSP, and some focus groups we’ve been asked to do on e-books for our library (based on the results of a library survey we ran at the end of last year). We started planning these and I suggested using Eventbrite to organise the booking. Last time we did focus groups the administration was a nightmare – we have two part-time support staff but this doesn’t cover the full week so I was also responding to some of the messages. It got very confusing with three of us trying to organise the participants and the sessions they could attend (and especially when we had to cancel one of the sessions), so I’m hoping Eventbrite might make things simpler. 

Lunch next, which I always enjoy at home because I can have something other than a jacket potato (today I had gluten free pasta with tomato and mozzarella sauce) and watch some TV (today I watched a very emotional episode of One Born Every Minute). 

This afternoon started well – one of the senior managers noticed my news in the recent library newsletter about being an ALA Emerging Leader and wants to feature it in the wider University newsletter. Could be useful for the Chartership portfolio!

We’re currently finalising some use cases for the JUSP project to demonstrate how libraries are using the service. We visited a number of libraries last year, and interviewed more over the phone/Skype. After writing up each library’s interview as a case study, we decided that they would best be presented as use cases. They are now written up and we’re getting approval for use of quotes from the libraries involved. I made some amendments based on one library’s feedback today. 

Then it was time to make the edits to the report write up of the m-library support project fact-finding survey. Some grammatical and formatting changes, and some additional quotes added in to demonstrate some of the examples of current m-library initiatives. 

I also tidied up my Chartership evidence submission form. I’m using a Google spreadsheet so that I can add things easily from anywhere with web access (I have a copy of the form starred in my inbox and can also access the form through my browser on iPhone or iPad). I had columns for what area of my PPDP and what marking criteria each piece of evidence supports, but this was a free entry text box. I’ve now added each option as a checkbox so I can just tick the box and easily check what information I have for specific areas. It’s working well for me so far (I’d be happy to share or give more details if anyone is interested). 

Tomorrow I have a couple more calls (are you noticing a theme here?!) and hopefully some work-related blog posts as I’m falling behind (it’s unfortunately something that always slips to the bottom of the to-do list as it’s not as essential as other tasks, but I still need to make time for it).

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 sixth time I’ve participated; you can see my earlier posts from July 2009January 2010July 2010January 2011 and July 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.

Day in the office today – which ironically usually means I get much less done (too many interruptions and errands). It took me longer than expected to get in this morning (had forgotten what traffic was like during peak times!) but I travel by public transport and always have my iPad with me so I can work on the way in. I finished drafting comments for the report I’ve been reviewing during the journey, and caught up with news on Twitter.

When I arrived at work I found a lovely surprise parcel of goodies from Lisa Jeskins who is part of the LILAC Conference organising committee. I’d been telling lots of people how much I love the LILAC conference whilst I was at ALA Midwinter last week so had joked that I should be on commission. Lisa clearly thought I should be so sent me these:

I’d also had some new stationery delivered so I had quite an exciting start to the day (I know I’m sad but I love getting new stationery!). After a quick catch up with my colleagues, we decided to bring forward a discussion we were planning for next week (it’s rare that we are all together). We’re getting our communication in order and have devised a new system to help share news from our department with the rest of the library and with those external who are interested in our work (most of our work is external). Internally, we’re using the library newsletter whilst externally we have an Evidence Base blog (and may later set up a MailChimp mailing list once our new website is sorted). My colleagues aren’t very familiar with blogging so I agreed to help them get started and provide some informal training for them. Unfortunately we had many hurdles (it seemed to take ages to get their accounts sorted!) and then we got interrupted by an IT guy so we didn’t get as much done as I’d have liked.

I went out for lunch with Damyanti, but we went slightly later than expected and lost track of time whilst we were there so I returned back to work later than expected. Oops! Time for lots of grovelling to manager and quickly preparing for a project Skype call – I’d done my own preparation but hadn’t had chance to discuss with my manager. The call was for the JISC m-library community support project, and we’re at the point now where we know broadly want people want from an m-library community and we need to make decisions on how we can best deliver that. It was a productive call and I certainly feel a lot clearer about our activities for the short term at least. I’ve been interested in investigating how libraries can utilise mobile technologies for a long time, and I’m really enjoying working on a project I’m so interested in. There’s lots of really innovative work out there and we’re hoping to be able to share this with the wider community to prevent duplication and help drive developments further forward.

After the call (and after adding actions to my to-do list and tidying up project documents), I did a bit of work on the Twitter account for another project, the Journal Usage Statistics Project (JUSP). We’ve had a Twitter account (@JUSPSTATS) for a few months now but we haven’t been using it often, partly as it didn’t really have clear ownership or purpose. I’ve worked with some of my colleagues on the project to discuss our intended use and have developed some guidelines. Today I shared them with the rest of the project team, answered some questions about Twitter use to a colleague who is new to it, and set up some saved searches on Twitter to keep an eye on. The Twitter search interface is a lot better than it used to be and seems to work well – I didn’t know it was so easy to set limits such as language and geography in addition to keyword and phrase searches.

That took me to almost the end of the afternoon – there was just time for a few emails and actions to be added to my to-do list regarding the JUSP project, then I visited the library general office to return the travel insurance card (I took it to Dallas for ALA Midwinter) and headed home. Thursday and Friday I’ll be working at home so hopefully able to get some real work done!