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Sunday, 30 July 2017

Seminar Holy Evidence: Research in Information Practice

By Suzana Sukovic

On 22 September LARK is celebrating its 5th anniversary in its signature style - by organising a seminar dedicated to research in practice. We are delighted to announce that the full program is now ready.


The seminar will be presented in two parts. In the first half of the day, we will consider issues of research in practice, learn from experiences in other professional fields and consider some examples of successful practice-based research projects in different types of libraries. The second half of the day will be dedicated to learning how to put research ideas into action. We will finish the day by discussing communication of research from Twitter to peer-reviewed journal articles. 

The seminar will be presented by experienced researchers from the profession and academia, and we will hear from young professionals who are at the beginning of their research journey.

Registrationhttps://www.alia.org.au/events/15693/alia-lark-holy-evidence-research-information-practice 


Audience: primarily LIS professionals, but it is suitable for educators and anyone who wants to learn about research in practice.

ALIA PD points can be claimed.

PROGRAM

See the full program with details about the sessions and presenters.


9-9.30 am
Registration
9.30-10 am
Welcome & Introductions
RESEARCH IN PRACTICE

10-10.30 am
LARK on the research horizon: developing research in practice
Dr Suzana Sukovic, HETI (Health Education & Training Institute)
10.30-11am
Learning from other professional fields: research in rural health
David Schmidt, NSW Health
11-11.30 am
Morning break
REALITY OF RESEARCH IN LIS PRACTICE

11.30-11.45 am
RFID project at UTS: collaborating with academics
Sally Scholfield, University of Technology, Sydney Library
11.45 am-12 pm
Peer-led learning in a public library
Liz Griffiths, Willoughby City Council Libraries
12-12.15 pm
Developing a validated integrated care search filter:
a practice-based research project
Suzanne Lewis, Central Coast Local Health District
12.15-12.45 pm
Panel discussion
12.45-1.30 pm
Lunch
SKILLS FOR RESARCH IN PRACTICE

1.30-3 pm
Doing research in practice
Dr Suzana Sukovic and Fiona Salisbury, La Trobe University Library
3-3.15 pm
Afternoon break
3.15-4 pm
Doing research in practice: Planning a project (group work)
4-4.50 pm
Communicating research: from Twitter to peer-reviewed article
Dr Mary Anne Kennan, Charles Sturt University
Dr Bhuva Narayan, University of Technology, Sydney
4.50-5 pm
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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

LARK branches out

By Liz Walkley Hall

Last Wednesday 10 May, LARK held its first face to face meeting in South Australia! This was an informal gathering over lunch, facilitated by me, but with an emphasis on working as a collective.

There were 13 attendees, including PhD students, academics, and practitioner-researchers; most of whom are actively working on current projects, with others are very interested in doing so, or have done so in the past.

Research topics ranged from preservation of collections, including digital preservation, through to librarian salaries, engagement with researchers, and information behaviour.

 Over our discussion, it emerged that we are most interested in

  • networking and collaboration opportunities
  • presentation and dissemination opportunities
  • case studies of research practice from which to learn from.
All in all it was a very successful first meeting. We look forward to planning our next steps, please do be in touch if you'd like to join us!

Many thanks to ALIA SA Manager Emily Wilson for coordinating this event, and thanks to ALIA for providing lunch.



Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Thoughts on attending an academic writing retreat for the first time

By Virginia Wilson

I recently returned home from a week-long academic women's writing retreat in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Academic women from the University of Saskatchewan (U of S; my home institution) and elsewhere in Canada came together for 6 days (arrived Monday; returned Saturday) to write/work/think. Our days were unstructured although we did have a permanent writing room that was ours for the week, open daily from 7am to 11pm. With it being at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, smack dab in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, there were fitness facilities, good food, and amazing views/walks. I had never attended a writing retreat before and I found it to be an amazingly productive experience. Not only did I get a ton of work done, I was actually able to slow my brain down enough to do some revelatory thinking. I feel calm, focused, and energized. I’ve got some confidence back. The retreat occurred at the perfect time in my work life. I would go again in a minute. In fact at this point, I would spend my professional development funds on this kind of activity rather than a conference.


Town of Banff
I was inspired to attend the writing retreat because I had been unhappy with my progress during the first months of my 6-month sabbatical. It was difficult to motivate myself, and with the lack of motivation and lack of productivity, I became lackluster! I wasn’t happy with myself or where I was at. The Academic Women’s Writing Retreat was organized by a U of S faculty member and she spread the word to other female academics. Space was limited to about 16 people. I registered and awaited the time when I could fly west and start to regroup. 

When I first arrived, I was somewhat discombobulated. I had been to Banff before, many times, but not to the Banff Centre. There was the inevitable finding-my-way-around time, getting settled in my room, finding out where to eat, and generally developing a sense of direction in a new place. The first evening, 6 of us made our way down the mountain to the town of Banff and got acquainted over dinner. The trip back up the mountain (okay, it was only partially down and up a mountain, but it was steep in places!) made me know that I was out of my usual space (flat prairies) and that there was potential here for a different perspective. 

During the week, I wrote in the Banff Centre library, the shared writing retreat room, and my hotel room. I found great inspiration to silently work with other people. I had known about this possibility from attending the bi-weekly writing circle that the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice runs at our Library. It was maybe even more intense because I was with women faculty members from different disciplines. During off times, I talked about research and writing with women from the English Department, the College of Education, the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, and the Department of Sociology. We shared with great interest our different perspectives and our goals for the week. And at the end of the week, we compared notes and celebrated accomplishments. I went away with a feeling of determination. I would recreate this feeling again! I would be as productive in my usual environment as I had been at the writing retreat! 

I’ve come back home all jazzed up about my experience. I looked around for some articles on writing retreats and found that this is not an uncommon part of academic writing and that it’s conducive to getting results. Writing retreats come in many shapes and colours: unstructured retreats that provide space and time (like the one I attended), retreats with structure/workshops/mentorship (Murray & Newton 2009), in-house writing retreats (Casey, Barron, & Gordon 2013), and retreats anywhere from a weekend to two-three weeks or more. The gist of it all seems to be that time away for writing is time well spent. I can see this approach working for all types of writing or other creative endeavors. A change in location can manifest in a change of perspective, a change in thought patterns, and even a change in self-identity. When I was at the writing retreat with other academic women, in addition to getting actual writing done, I felt like a researcher and writer, I felt like an academic, and I felt productive and confident. And for a practicing librarian with a research mandate to feel all these things…well, this was an unanticipated result and one that I hope to pass along to others who are struggling with writing or contemplating a writing retreat. If you get the chance, do it!

References
Casey, B., Barron, C.M., & Gordon, E. (2009). Reflections on an in-house academic writing retreat. AISHE-J: The All Ireland Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 5(1). 1041-1054.

Murray, R. & Newton, M. (2013). Writing retreat as structured intervention: margin or mainstream? Higher Education Research & Development, 28(5). 541–553

Virginia Wilson is Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP), University Library, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
Twitter: @VirginiaPrimary

Image Town of Banff https://www.banffcentre.ca/destination

Saturday, 22 April 2017

10 May: LARK events in Adelaide and Sydney

By Suzana Sukovic
10 May is going to be an eventful day for LARK. First of all, LARK is spreading its wings to South Australia. The first SA LARK meeting will be in Adelaide on 10 May at 12 pm. It will be an informal meeting to connect with people interested in research in library and information practice. 

LARKs in Sydney are delighted that another group in Australia is forming. We will get together on the same day at 6 pm and may be able to hear from LARKs in Adelaide about their first meeting. 

Survey: beyond a happy sheet is the topic of our meeting in Sydney. We will talk about survey design and offer some practical advice on this popular method of collecting information. As always, everyone is welcome. 


Saturday, 8 April 2017

Why research support is not enough?

©2017 HABBENINK
By Suzana Sukovic

Library and information professionals ask themselves regularly what they can do better to support research. It is a worthy question, but the answers never go far enough simply because we can’t really support research anymore. And how are we going to do deal with that? In the nutshell, by becoming transliterate research specialists. It may sound like a contradiction in terms. Transliteracy (described as a fluidity of movement across a range of technologies, media and contexts) is about moving broadly while being a specialist means focusing on one area. But, professional dancers are transliterate specialists. With a rigorous dancing technique, physical and musical training, daily practice and a good deal of talent, they dance to different types of music, performing in theatres, dancing halls and on streets. Many information professionals are transliterate specialists in the way they go about their work, but their practices haven’t become an integral part of who we are as a profession.

As a researcher and a practitioner, I have worked with educators and academics for many years. I have heard over and over again about the overwhelming demands of daily work coupled with complex information and technological contexts. An academic who works on a research project, an educator who prepares online modules for health professionals, and a classroom teacher alike need someone to help them in navigating fast-paced information and technological changes. 

And this is not enough. Developments in the knowledge field have become so far-reaching that our clients need an information specialist as a partner in taking their knowledge work further. An academic, Peter Read, wrote about our collaboration in a way that captures the nature of this type of partnerships, which have been sprouting across the globe:


Librarians well versed in digital humanities, I realise now, offer not only new ways of creative thinking, but epistemological insights into how to present historical knowledge and understanding to solve new problems. Issues of design, attractiveness, maneuverability and access are just part of what I understand to be a great deal more than an easy way of putting everything together. 

Negotiation of shifting cultural norms adds a new layer of complexity to intricate knowledge landscapes. ‘Academic city of villages’, a model of how academics in the humanities live in their information worlds, is a reality for many scholars who negotiate disciplinary boundaries with a wish to work creatively and use abundant information outside their traditional domains. They need research partners who understand disciplinary cultures as well as epistemic frameworks, information sources and digital technologies.

The concept of transliteracy has captured the interest of information professionals over the last decade as it addresses many practices and challenges they observed in their work. As the information environments have become increasingly complex, existing practices of moving across media, technologies and contexts took new forms. A dynamic approach to understanding old and new information behaviours and related capabilities is needed. The conceptual model of transliteracy below provides a framework for thinking about transliteracy as an overarching concept in relation to other capabilities. 



Applying these capabilities to the work of information professionals leads to reconceptualising our professional contribution to research. While we as a profession have all the capabilities which form transliteracy to some extent, it is the way we move across that makes new forms of our work possible.

The transliterate research specialist needs to assume three roles, which often overlap and merge as is the case in any transliterate work.
1. Transliterate research partner. In this role, the information specialist brings information from different domains to contribute to investigations, acting as an information broker with solid disciplinary, and the deep specialised knowledge of information landscapes. With the knowledge of digital tools and methods, s/he takes part in thinking about different ways of knowing applicable to the work at hand. Academics in particular need and greatly respect people who work with them not only on providing access to information, but who could also help them to take their understanding further. I have argued elsewhere for a resurrection of the highly respected Medieval librarian in the guise of the Librarian iScholar (Sukovic, 2011).

2. Translational researcher. Two useful models borrowed from medicine as a major field of applied research underpin thinking about this role. One is the model of teaching hospitals, which provide practical training for students, and enable connections between academia and practice. Another is translational research, which is based on the same principles. Translational research focuses on applying results of basic research into medical practice to improve health outcomes for patients. While there are many questions around translational research, it remains a valid and valuable approach to ensuring that research has outcomes in health services.

The health models are applicable to LIS as an applied discipline. ‘Teaching libraries’ could be grounded in the principles of connecting academic and practice-based research and training. Considering the richness and variety of contexts in which they operate, libraries and information centres have potential to become nodes of research activity. Investigations of fluctuating information needs and practices, and experimentation would lead to innovation and enable new insights. A number of disciplines could become partners in these investigations. The information professional as a translational researcher would not only bring results of research into practice, but would also take the role of translator between different knowledge domains. 

3. Provider of transliteracy-enabling systems. In this role, the information specialist would develop systems to support flexible and meandering information paths. With a creative mind and high-order technological skills, the information specialist researches and creates information ecologies to support innovative thinking.

Many information professionals already do the work of the transliterate research specialist. The next step is to make it a norm and embed it in the way we operate as a profession. Instead of asking how we can be better research supporters, we need to ask how we can be better research partners. The key is in thinking creatively how we can use our rigorously developed capability sets in amphitheatres, public libraries, digital classrooms and on the streets.



Book Transliteracy in complex information environments (Chandos, 2017) is available from Elsevier store

References
SUKOVIC, S. 2011 E-texts in research projects in the humanities. In: WOODSWORTH, A. (ed.) Advances in Librarianship, Vol. 33. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

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Thursday, 30 March 2017

The rewards of the Research Advisory Committee



By Diana Hodge & Suzana Sukovic
 

We have just finished our three-year term as co-chairs for the ALIA Research Advisory Committee (RAC). Overall, it has been an extremely rewarding experience. It involved a lot of work, but it was worth it. However, many times over the three years, we thought Thank goodness we nominated together

The roles of the advisory committee are to advise the ALIA Board of Directors on all aspects of library and information research theory, policy and practice; matters of interest and concern to ALIA Members relating to research; and the awarding of research grants. Every year the committee assesses applications for the Research Grant Award and the Twila Ann Janssen Herr Research Award for Disability Services, which are each worth $5000.

Awarding the grants is interesting, time-consuming and very satisfying. Knowing the amount of effort that goes into the applications and into the completion of the projects means that the committee takes this task very seriously and we have a very strong commitment to a fair and transparent process. The committee also plays an active role in the creation of the ALIA Research Agenda; the further development of research activities for the Association, including conference workshops; producing the research-related information, resources and support that should be available to ALIA Members, and raising awareness of, and contributions to, the ALIA Research Fund.

In the three years we have been chairs, the committee has undertaken all sorts of activities in these areas that may not be apparent to most ALIA Members. We oversaw the development of the ALIA LIS Research Environmental Scan report by Mike Middleton, created the ALIA Research Agenda, continued the practice of delivering research workshops at ALIA conferences and wrote the research column for INCITE. We have been asked on numerous occasions to read research proposals and government reports of various kinds and contribute comments to an ALIA response. All of these projects required many hours of work from us and our dedicated committee members. Your ALIA Board members work very hard to put our professional point of view forward to those in power.
We’d also like to give you a bit of a personal perspective on our experience.

Diana: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved to be passing the chairing role on to others, but the benefits that I have received as a committee member and as chair have been enormous and have made the hard work well worth it.
I have met some incredible people through the committee, both ALIA employees and committee members. It was daunting when I joined that first phone hook-up and spoke to people I had never met. Helping deliver my first practitioner research workshop at ALIA 2012 was a pivotal moment. My fellow committee members were not at all scary in real life; they were warm, welcoming and happy to have me on board.

Before joining the Research Advisory Committee, I had been a member of ALIA, went to ALIA conferences and occasionally browsed my way through an ALIA journal – which means I had very little idea of what ALIA actually did. Being part of the committee has allowed me to see behind the scenes and get an idea of the amount and range of work ALIA does on our behalf. I knew that ALIA did advocacy work on behalf of the profession, but getting a glimpse of the scale of this has been an eye-opener.

I have spent most of my working life as an academic librarian with only a peripheral awareness of what was happening in other sectors of librarianship. The RAC aims to have representatives from all sectors of the profession – academic librarians and teaching staff, school librarians, public and corporate librarians, health librarians and others. It is easy for us to let our perspective narrow to our own little niche; working closely with committee members from all walks of librarianship has broadened my horizons and given me a much better understanding of the challenges faced by my peers in the profession. 

Suzana: I left RAC after nine years – six as a member and three as co-chair. I started on the committee just after finishing my PhD to give it a go. Little did I know that it was going to become a long-term commitment. Back in the day, the RAC members were predominantly academics. It now consists of professionals and academics with wide-ranging backgrounds. I am particularly proud that during our co-chairing that RAC continued to grow into a strong and outward-looking group with members with a wide variety of professional and ethnic backgrounds. 


In my time on the committee, I met many interesting people and dealt with a range of issues, which I wouldn’t have an opportunity to encounter in my professional life. Volunteering for ALIA gave a new dimension to my experience. Co-chairing a formal advisory committee and working with ALIA LARK (Library Applied Research Kollektive), a grassroots group, I felt truly connected with the issues of research in the profession. Meeting monthly with people dispersed across Australia and being regularly on phone with Di in Adelaide gave a whole new dimension to a sense of connection. I am glad to pass on the baton, but I’m also happy that I ran with it for a while.


This article was first published in Incite (March/April 2017)

DR DIANA HODGE, Manager, Academic Library Services, University of South Australia


DR SUZANA SUKOVIC, Executive Director, Educational Research and Evidence Based Practice, HETI (Health Education and Training Institute)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Recording: Research capacity building for professional practice

By Suzana Sukovic

Earlier this week (Wednesday, 22 February) LARK hosted a webinar entitled Research capacity building for professional practice. It was announced here and here. This webinar was a milestone for LARK as this was the first time we targeted different professional groups. For me, it was a way to put my different worlds together. I am delighted to say "no collision", just good interprofessional learning.

I wish to thank the presenters and everyone who came to the webinar and contributed questions and comments. Many thanks to Alycia Bailey who looked after technology while I facilitated the meeting.

The whole webinar lasted just a bit over an hour. Recordings below are slightly shorter as discussions about technology and short periods of silence were cut.

Slides and a chat transcript are available from this link.


From experienced health clinician to novice researcher

Dr Kerith Duncanson
video


From library practitioner to library researcher: making research part of your professional practice 

Edward Luca

A blog post about the project presented in Edward's talk and a link to an academic article are available from this LARK blog post.

video

Unlearning with Snapchat

Kate Bunker and Dr Tatum McPherson-Crowie

The full peer-reviewed paper on which this talk was based is available from the Information Online website (see here).

What you hear after my introduction is Tatum's voice. The recording of the talk finishes at 12:30 and the rest are discussions with all the participants.

video