Today I attended Research into Practice: LIS research resources briefing. This was a free session talking about the LIS Research group projects RiLIEs1 and 2. I chose to attend this event as we do some research at work and I thought it might be useful for my masters, particularly my ever closer thesis! Although I was aware of LIS Research, DReAM etc (and had a little peak at the website prior to the session), I was interested to learn a bit more about the projects.
We started off with the basics of LIS Research; understanding the importance of a strong impact statement when applying for funding and the most effective ways to disseminate your research was interesting, something I had never thought about before was writing your academic paper but also produce another version of it that is suitable for a magazine, such as CILIP Update or one that is aimed at your target audience, as a way to get noticed.
In a group session, as way of an ice breaker, each table had to label ourselves (categorised and colour coded, of course!) according to where we were in the research field. Options included red for interest in LIS research but not participating, green for currently carrying out research and yellow being a consultant etc. We decided I fell into the green category as we are about to carry out a user needs assessment at work and also due to my studying (not strictly research yet, but I’m all up for balancing out the colours on our table!). It was interesting to hear what other people were currently researching, or interested in researching at their place of work – coincidentally my table was all healthcare librarians!
The second part of the session focussed on RiLIES2, a project that is researching the best way to share LIS research and what makes people, particularly practitioners of whom this research maybe useful to, aware of it.
From research already performed by RiLIES, JISC mailing lists came out as the most important main source of knowledge. I would agree with this, for one it is the way that I heard about this event. Blogs and twitter also came up and although I agree they are good for hearing about events and issues in the LIS world I would not say it’s necessarily the best for hearing about research.
From these findings RiLIES concluded that there was an apparent need for a single directory of LIS research. It should be low-cost and community maintained, something that people would be aware of and would use frequently as their main go for resources to impact on their work.
Wikis, social bookmarking, google drive, blogs and ALISS were all mentioned of examples of how to create this directory. Whilst I’m sure most of us had heard of and use most of these already, I had not heard of ALISS. ALISS engine is a platform based in Scotland for community support of chronic diseases, improving access to support and self-management of chronic diseases. It sounds fairly similar to a website we host at my work for the tobacco control and prevention community; people can upload items to the repository and interact in the discussion forums.
We were asked to think about each of these ways to share information and think about the positives and negatives of each. My instant reaction is to go for a platform like ALISS. It is more sustainable than the others, if you are using other people’s platforms, for example, delicious, you run the risk of that platform being sold commercially or being closed down. However I realise it comes with its problems, it would require building, most importantly the money and people to build it, and may be harder to initially take off as it’s not on an already well used site. It also requires people willing to monitor and maintain the site- though we as information professionals might be good at uploading information from the front end, we may not all have the technical ability to fix something that breaks on a website. Thinking about the website we host (as mentioned earlier), although the idea of people uploading and searching for the information themselves and taking part in the discussions is great, it seems to be a problem actually encouraging and getting people to do so, but interaction has slowly increased with time. I know some people at the session today expressed concern that not knowing how the site works would be a barrier and therefore off-putting, though I can understand this, I think it is the same case with most new websites, but once you’ve got used to it you forget you were ever confused!
At the end of the session it appeared that Wikis and a community-driven approach were most popular, but I haven’t used wikis that much for LIS research so I don’t feel I can comment on that. It would be interesting to read a summary of people’s thoughts and see where the project ends.
All in all it was a very interesting morning and thanks again to Hazel, Peter and Christine for offering this great session for free. I shall be keeping a keen eye on the developments of the project now and using their links to LIS resources!