From perspectives to policy: an examination of evidence, value and impact can inform the LIS research agenda


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Slides for Charles Oppenheim's closing keynote presentation "From perspectives to policy: how an examination of evidence, value and impact can inform the LIS research agenda" at the Library and Information Science Research Coalition conference held at the British Library, London, June 28 2010:, hashtag #lisrc10

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From perspectives to policy: an examination of evidence, value and impact can inform the LIS research agenda

  1. 1. From perspectives to policyHow an examination of evidence, value and impact can inform the LIS research agenda<br />Professor Charles Oppenheim<br />
  2. 2. A REQUEST<br />Please tweet during this session, ideally just three words summarising your views of the key words that describe the day – Kirsty Pitkin will be collecting your tweets for her write-up<br />#lisrc10 plus #eval<br />
  3. 3. SETTING THE SCENE FOR YOU<br />All the England-branded Mars bars are on special offer in Tesco’s – four for one<br />
  4. 4. WHY DO LIS RESEARCH?<br />Intellectual interest/curiosity?<br />Make you more engaged and empowered?<br />To help influence policy and decision-makers?<br />To make your name?<br />Other reasons?<br />
  5. 5. MY PERCEPTIONS OF THE LIS RESEARCH LANDSCAPE<br />A lot of scattered effort, some of which isn’t really recognised by those doing it as research<br />Often poorly funded, poorly conducted, poorly recognised<br />Plethora of unco-ordinated funding bodies, with different agendas, requirements, overlapping areas<br />
  6. 6. WHERE IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF RESEARCHERS?<br />Every generation worries about the next one<br />Standard complaint when short-listing for lectureships in the field<br />We’ve seen a really impressive set of presentations from PhD students exploring some fascinating topics<br />Gives me reason to be optimistic for the future<br />
  7. 7. Large amount of research going on world-wide, much of it in the UK<br />Ranges from fundamental studies on how people seek, search for and use information, via IR (TREC, etc.), to very practical studies on how to improve a particular library service<br />
  8. 8. THE ECONOMIC CONTEXT<br />Cuts in funding means increased pressures on LIS to justify their existence/provide evidence of value for money<br />It also means less money available to fund research, and reduced funds for University LIS Departments<br />
  9. 9. VALUE AND IMPACT<br /><ul><li> How does one measure impact or value?
  10. 10. The bean counters demand something robust that they can relate to, e.g., RoI
  11. 11. Research on how much money has been saved by having the library or information service there is often viewed as unconvincing/self-serving</li></li></ul><li>COST BENEFIT<br />Cost is easy to measure<br />Benefit is hard to measure<br />The bean counters require it – we have to learn to use their techniques and talk their language, even if it goes against our deep-seated principles<br />
  12. 12. TWO KEY TERMS<br />Impact<br />Human angle<br />
  13. 13. “IMPACT”<br />Everyone is talking about it<br />The REF requires evidence of impact of research, and HEFCE has provided guidance notes on what constitutes impact – more to come<br />The REF’s approach: a series of case studies, plus a narrative<br />Why not adopt the same approach?<br />
  14. 14. THE HUMAN ANGLE<br />Our profession is about humans creating, storing, disseminating and using information, and this can only be done by understanding the way humans interact with information<br />The most outstanding IR system in the world is useless if humans don’t want to interact with it<br />Also learn from history – good and bad use of information in the past and the lessons we can learn today<br />LIS research has to focus on this as well<br />
  15. 15. MORE<br />How do yuppies multi-task?<br />Information overload strategies and stress<br />What makes information valuable to people?<br />Adopt a scientific paradigm – seems to press the right buttons<br />
  16. 16. POLICY ANGLES<br />We have yet to work out the new Government’s policies towards LIS<br />There seems to be a commitment to releasing Government data<br />Issues to do with the Digital Economy Act affecting library operations<br />
  17. 17. QUESTIONS TO ASK<br />What is the purpose of the research?<br />Who are we demonstrating our value and impact to?<br />The audience changes over time<br />How do we communicate to the audience – formal routes, informally<br />Different levels of seniority<br />Are we influencing the end users and are they our best advocates?<br />
  18. 18. How much do we involve the audience in the research design?<br />Do practitioners really understand what users want?<br />Cultural issue – do we have the skills?<br />To what extent is research “nice to do” rather than “must have”? How to get research embedded into the organisational culture?<br />
  19. 19. Do we use mixed methods? How important are narratives?<br />
  20. 20. WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?<br /><ul><li>New sources of funding – Microsoft, Google – and lobby existing funding agencies
  21. 21. International collaboration/exchanges?
  22. 22. Ground-breaking report on the benefits of LIS?
  23. 23. Use of novel research techniques, e.g., social network analysis, critical incident technique, sophisticated stats,, log file analysis, Balanced Scorecard, observational studies…..
  24. 24. Involve psychologists, sociologists, philosophers, computer scientists (but don’t become bedazzled by IT) , economists!</li></li></ul><li>MORE<br />Publish, or at least capturing/anonymising negative results – something for the Coalition?<br />Get journals to publish more practitioner research<br />Mentor practitioners<br />
  25. 25. TASKS<br />Identify worthwhile realistic research projects, especially a research agenda for tough times<br />Identify the researchers who can undertake it<br />Identify the funders to pay for it<br />
  27. 27. CONCLUSION<br />The title of my talk was wrong – it should be “Evidence, Value and Impact SHOULD BE the LIS research agenda”<br />