Supporting research by becoming a
researcher
Miggie Pickton
ALISS Summer Conference
Senate House, London
30th July 2013
Outline
• What is research?
– Academic and practitioner research
• What do researchers do?
– The research lifecycle
• How ...
What does research mean to you?
Find new
knowledge
Establish facts
Increase
understanding
Systematic
enquiry
Solve
problems
SynthesiseGenerate and
test th...
Research: some definitions
• “The systematic investigation into and study of materials
and sources in order to establish f...
Academic vs practitioner research
‘Academic’ research
• Problem solving or curiosity
driven - purpose is to create
new kno...
What do researchers do?
Identify new
research area
Produce
research
proposal
Bid for funding
Conduct
literature
review
Col...
How does being a researcher help you
support others?
Benefits accrue as soon as you become research active, for
example th...
Understanding the research process
[An academic colleague...] “wanted to run some focus groups
in partner colleges and wan...
Familiarity with research tools and
resources
“Without my own research work, I would have located the
textbook but wouldn'...
Empathy with researchers
“Having published my own
articles and seen them cited I
can now use this experience in
my teachin...
Credibility among researchers
“Authority comes
because they know
you‟ve been there and
done it.” (Researcher 1)
Being know...
Building collaborative relationships
“Not only have I been into colleagues' lectures to plug my
project and try to recruit...
Benefits from outputs and outcomes
• Evidence:
– to support and justify decision-making and policy
– to solve problems
– t...
Research with impact
15
Students‟ use of
learning spaces
Users‟
experience of e-
books
Reading lists as
pedagogical toolsR...
Becoming a researcher: getting started
• Identify a potential research topic – it‟s OK to start small
• Make a case for yo...
Summary and conclusion
1. Research means different things to different people and
practitioner research can be just as val...
• Dr Karen McAulay is a Music Librarian and musicologist of 18th-19th
century Scottish music. Karen is currently seconded ...
References
• Allison, B. (1995) Research methods. Leicester: De Montfort University. [Online]
Available from: http://dc356...
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Supporting research by becoming a researcher- Miggie Pickton,

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Miggie Pickton, Research Support Librarian, Northampton University. Paper given at the ALISS 2013 summer conference

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  • 5 minutes discussion
  • Lots of overlap between the two, but difference in purpose, emphasis and ambition.What we support vs what we might do – slightly different animals.
  • How does this cycle differ between academic and practitioner research? Essentially it is the same; although bidding for funding might be replaced by seeking managerial approval, and conducting a literature review might also incorporate scanning professional mailing lists, conference presentations etc. Individual steps will always be determined by the aims and objectives of the project and the intended outcomes. For a practitioner project greater impact may be achieved through targeted conference and workshop presentations than through writing papers for peer reviewed journals.
  • By doing research yourself you gain a greater understanding of the research process e.g.:Where do research ideas come from/how are they generated?What needs to go into a research proposal?Where do you find out about bidding opportunities and how do you go about submitting a bid?How extensive does the literature review need to be? Which research methodology is appropriate for the project? What does this mean for data collection and analysis?How does the target audience affect the way the work is written up? Where are the best places to disseminate the research? (How can these be identified and evaluated?)How can project success be measured?Librarians that support researchers will quickly see that having first hand experience of the research process will enable them to design and implement timely and more appropriate support services.
  • Examples of tools and resources and the benefits of using these as a researcher:Reference management (RefWorks, EndNote, Mendeley)Research performance measurement – citation analysis and other bibliometrics (usage stats, downloads, ‘favourites’, mentions, ‘likes’...)Software for data analysis (SPSS, NVivo, Minitab, Excel)Microsoft Word - long documentsSocial/professional networking (Academia.edu; ResearchGate)Library databases – designing a workable search strategy; recording and organising the resultsResearch data managementData collection – surveys, focus groups, semi structured interviews
  • You know what they are going through – appreciate the challenges they face.Make connections with researchers on a personal level.If they feel you understand what they’re going through then they may be more willing to ask for help.
  • Things that you can do to raise your profile and increase credibility:Bid for funding – and preferably win it (my ‘100% success rate’ was much bandied about after I won my first ever bid!)Edit a journal – ideally one that is peer reviewed – it will convince them that you know what you are talking aboutGet an article published in a peer reviewed journalPresent at an international conference (preferably abroad)Demonstrate that your research has had impact – that’s what they’re trying to do tooUpload your work to the institutional repository (and use yourself as an example when demonstrating it!)Show off your qualifications by using your postnominalsCollaborate on a project with another institution – this will win you some kudos and give you something to talk about with other researchersGet yourself on to university Research Committees – and contribute to their discussions
  • A collaborative approach brings lots of rewards:If you’ve not done research before you have a built in support system (and if you have, then you can bring your own experience and expertise to the table)A combined academic and practitioner approach can be the best of both worlds (different perspectives)Academics are judged by their outputs so there’s more incentive for them to write the work upWorking with an academic in one area may lead to invitations to work together in other areasIt potentially enables you to improve your understanding of the academic’s world – and demonstrates your interest in and commitment to supporting this.
  • The last few slides have demonstrated the benefits of being research active; but there are also benefits to be gained from the outputs and outcomes of a research project. These arise from what the findings tell you, how you can use them to inform service development and the reputational benefit you can gain from sharing and disseminating your work.For some examples see next slide.
  • All of the above are recent projects completed by staff in LLS at the University of Northampton. Each one has informed service development for a positive impact.‘Scaffolded’ approach to teaching information skills – widespread interest from other universities; approach adopted elsewhere at UoNReading lists – huge interest at LLS conference last year, received close attention from VC; informed implementation of Talis AspireLearning spaces – informed refurbishment of library (and will inform design of new library after campus move); library staff now recognised as knowledgeable in this areaResearch data – results underpinned institutional research data policy and subsequent RDM activityMobile learning – informed creation of a university mobile app; colleague left for an exciting new job with Blackboard Delivery of maths tutorials online – project demonstrated that these were not popular so not worth pursuingReading groups – major contribution to community engagement agenda; shortlisted for national volunteering awardTransitions in HE – produced key messages for students to optimise their position in transitioning from university to the workplaceE-books – recommendations made to suppliers to enhance the design of e-book user interfaceRepositories and digital preservation – presented at international conference; implemented software to facilitate preservation of reposiry content
  • Identify a potential research topicYou may already have a pressing need, but if not:Evaluate service performance e.g. are current services for academic staff meeting identified staff needs?Identify gaps in service provision and recommend measures for filling these e.g. could more be done to support international students?Measure impact/effectiveness e.g. of a new approach to information literacy teachingInvestigate potential new services e.g. use of mobile technologies for alerting or accessing resourcesIdentify good practice elsewhere and introduce it to your own workplace e.g. advocacy for the institutional repository
  • Supporting research by becoming a researcher- Miggie Pickton,

    1. 1. Supporting research by becoming a researcher Miggie Pickton ALISS Summer Conference Senate House, London 30th July 2013
    2. 2. Outline • What is research? – Academic and practitioner research • What do researchers do? – The research lifecycle • How does being research active help you to support others? – Benefits of engaging in the process – Using the outputs and outcomes • Getting started as a practitioner researcher
    3. 3. What does research mean to you?
    4. 4. Find new knowledge Establish facts Increase understanding Systematic enquiry Solve problems SynthesiseGenerate and test theories Investigate Conduct experiments Use rigorous methodology What is research?
    5. 5. Research: some definitions • “The systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions” (Oxford Dictionaries) • “Research is a systematic enquiry which is reported in a form which allows the research methods and the outcomes to be accessible to others” (Allison,1995, p.6) • “Research can be defined as the attempt to derive generalisable new knowledge by addressing clearly defined questions with systematic and rigorous methods” (Department of Health, 2005, p.3)
    6. 6. Academic vs practitioner research ‘Academic’ research • Problem solving or curiosity driven - purpose is to create new knowledge (or confirm existing knowledge) • Grounded in disciplinary context (literature, theory, methodology, interpretation) • Make political, societal, economic... „impact‟ (REF) • Audience: other scholars, policy makers, practitioners • Produce outputs of publishable quality (peer review) ‘Practitioner’ research • Focused on current problem or need • Pragmatic approach to theory and methodology – often investigative or evaluative; also used for benchmarking • Results inform practice – support decision-making, policy and strategy for benefit & impact • Audience: colleagues, managers, service users • Dissemination often (unfortunately) a secondary consideration 6
    7. 7. What do researchers do? Identify new research area Produce research proposal Bid for funding Conduct literature review Collect and analyse data Write up Disseminate Evaluate and review The research lifecycle:
    8. 8. How does being a researcher help you support others? Benefits accrue as soon as you become research active, for example through: • Understanding the research process • Becoming familiar with research tools • Developing empathy with researchers • Increasing your own credibility among researchers • Building collaborative relationships ... and of course further benefits arise from the new knowledge gained and its application to service development
    9. 9. Understanding the research process [An academic colleague...] “wanted to run some focus groups in partner colleges and wanted advice. Fortunately, I'd just done some reading on managing focus groups for my own research, so was able to recommend an excellent practical textbook and talk through some logistical issues - and then... was able to give her advice from my own current experience on formulating good questions.” (Researcher 4) Re current awareness: “Once you‟ve done it you realise what they‟re looking for.” (Researcher 1) “Having conducted research projects myself I understand the process and I can target my services at researchers‟ needs at each stage.”
    10. 10. Familiarity with research tools and resources “Without my own research work, I would have located the textbook but wouldn't have been able to recommend it from personal experience, nor had the personal recent knowledge which made me feel confident in offering her suggestions and advice.” (Researcher 4) “They appreciate advice on bibliographies and maintaining these... having done it yourself you understand the importance.” (Researcher 1) “I show them my own ResearchGate profile and blog. They are able to see the potential impact these can make.” (Researcher 2)
    11. 11. Empathy with researchers “Having published my own articles and seen them cited I can now use this experience in my teaching.” (Researcher 2) “Understanding their concepts and terminology enable me to engage with them at a deeper level” (Researcher 3) “Knowing that I have had experience of research makes a difference to the kind of questions they ask... more are related to my personal experience” (Researcher 2) “Having been a journal editor myself I understand the challenges of building and maintaining a scholarly publication. This is invaluable in supporting researchers wishing to do the same.”
    12. 12. Credibility among researchers “Authority comes because they know you‟ve been there and done it.” (Researcher 1) Being known as a researcher means “they are a lot more likely to come and talk to me about their research.” (Researcher 3) “We‟ve come a long way from the perception that I am simply the person that orders books” (Researcher 3) “You come to be seen as an equal partner; not serving, but contributing.” (Researcher 5) “Having bid for and won external funding gives me kudos among the researchers that I support.” “I was flattered to find out that the School of Education wanted my work to be included in the REF.” (Researcher 2)
    13. 13. Building collaborative relationships “Not only have I been into colleagues' lectures to plug my project and try to recruit students for surveys and focus groups etc, but having the imprimatur of some research behind me, even a small-scale project, makes it easier to ask colleagues to allow me, say, into their lectures for short chunks of co-teaching ” (Researcher 4) Re the development of an online interface: “As a result of our close working relationship I was able to go to the Faculty and ask for students to test the interface. The result was a joint paper with the academic.” (Researcher 5) “Involving other researchers in my bids for funding has raised my own profile and as a result I have been invited to join other projects.”
    14. 14. Benefits from outputs and outcomes • Evidence: – to support and justify decision-making and policy – to solve problems – to demonstrate service value • ...ultimately leading to improvements in service (making an impact) • Greater engagement with your user community – by understanding their perspective, showing an interest in their needs and responding to their concerns • Recognition and respect (within and beyond the institution)
    15. 15. Research with impact 15 Students‟ use of learning spaces Users‟ experience of e- books Reading lists as pedagogical toolsRepositories and digital preservation Transitions in Higher Education Reading groups for community engagement Mobile learning Scaffolding information literacyDelivery of maths tutorials online Researchers‟ data management practice
    16. 16. Becoming a researcher: getting started • Identify a potential research topic – it‟s OK to start small • Make a case for your project – convince your line manager of the need and benefit of it (it will help if your research is relevant to your day job and supports organisational priorities) • Write a research proposal/plan (courses and guidance are available e.g. Eve, 2008; Pickton, forthcoming) • Consider: – Collaborating with partners (e.g. academic staff; colleagues from other support departments; professional colleagues from other institutions – anyone with whom you have shared goals) – especially if you are a first-timer – Combining your project with a professional or academic qualification (e.g. PGCTHE, Chartership) – Submitting a bid for funding – externally (e.g. HEA, JISC, LIRG) or internally (e.g. Institutional L&T awards) 16
    17. 17. Summary and conclusion 1. Research means different things to different people and practitioner research can be just as valuable as the academic variety. 2. We already have some knowledge of the research process from our experience of supporting researchers. 3. We now know from those who have done it that the act of doing research brings enormous benefit to our roles in supporting researchers. 4. The outputs and outcomes of practitioner research projects also directly inform and benefit our service. 5. So what‟s not to like?
    18. 18. • Dr Karen McAulay is a Music Librarian and musicologist of 18th-19th century Scottish music. Karen is currently seconded to work part time on an AHRC-funded project. • Moira Bent is a Faculty Liaison Librarian and National Teaching Fellow. Her interests include information literacy development, international students support and research support. • Clare McCluskey is Academic Liaison Librarian for Education and Theology and a University Teaching Fellow. Clare belongs to a university research group with which she engages both professionally and as an active researcher. • Hazel Rothera is conducting a Learning and Teaching Fellowship project on the use of a new VLE to support students‟ information literacy. She is Subject Team Leader and Subject Librarian for Education. • Dr Graham Walton is Head of Planning and Resources at Loughborough University Library and an Honorary Research Fellow with the Department of Information Science. I am grateful to the following practitioner researchers for sharing their experiences with me:
    19. 19. References • Allison, B. (1995) Research methods. Leicester: De Montfort University. [Online] Available from: http://dc356.4shared.com/doc/iQD3_b0D/preview.html [accessed 24.07.13]. • Department of Health (2005) Research Governance Framework for Health and Social Care. 2nd Ed. [Online] Available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/139 565/dh_4122427.pdf [accessed 24.7.13]. • Eve, J. (2008) Writing a research proposal: planning and communicating your research ideas effectively. Library and Information Research, 32(102), pp.18-28. • Pickton, M. (forthcoming) Writing your project plan. In: Grant, M.J., Sen, B. And Spring, H. Research, evaluation and audit: ten practical steps to demonstrating your value. London: Facet Publishing. • Rankin, C. (2013) Research and the practitioner. What do we mean by practitioner research? Presented to: Library and Learning Services Research Summer School, University of Northampton, 17 June 2013.

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