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Doctoral dilemmas, digital solutions? Bell

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Presented at LILAC 2017

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Doctoral dilemmas, digital solutions? Bell

  1. 1. Doctoral dilemmas, digital solutions? Diane Bell Research Librarian at City, University of London diane.bell.2@city.ac.uk
  2. 2. Overview ■ Recent MA in Academic Practice research topic: Which factors may influence the digital literacy skills of research students? ■ Rationale, research methodology and aims. ■ Defining digital literacy and challenges. ■ Using frameworks (eg Jisc) and student feedback to inform digital literacy. ■ Research findings and some outputs. ■ Recommendations and future research.
  3. 3. Rationale ■Doctoral students have the greatest information literacy needs of all students (Barry, 1997). ■They are not always heavily researched or understood (Dowling & Wilson, 2015). ■Informal conversations with students on digital literacy. ■Exploring demographic factors (eg. discipline, age, gender) compared to digital literacy factors. ■Evidence based practice and experience as a researcher in supporting interdisciplinary PhD students and staff.
  4. 4. Methodology ■Literature review to understand context of digital literacy. ■Jisc researcher profile (2015). ■Survey of sample of 27 doctoral students at City, designed on Survey Monkey (Dec 2015- Jan 2016). ■Qualitative interviews with 8 of the survey respondents. ■Dissertation synthesising the literature review, survey and interview data.
  5. 5. Aims of research ■ To analyse definitions of the concept of digital literacy and identify a selection of digital tools and skills used by research students. ■ To investigate in the literature factors which may lead to differences in the digital literacy skills of research students. ■ Survey and interview a sample of research students. ■ Synthesise the literature, survey and interview data and draw conclusions about factors which may influence the digital literacy skills of research students. ■ To explore any possible practical applications in supporting research students with their digital skills.
  6. 6. Literature review ■History and definitions of digital literacy. ■Overview of digital skills and tools used by research students. ■Factors which may influence researchers’ digital literacy skills (eg. discipline, age, digital skills and tools). ■Frameworks: Vitae, Jisc Researcher profile, SCONUL research lens.
  7. 7. Defining digital literacy ■“.. the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers” (Gilster, 1997, p. 1). ■“..the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyze and synthesize digital resources …” (Martin, 2006, p. 151). ■“We define digital literacies as the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society (Jisc, 2015)”.
  8. 8. Developing students' digital literacy (Jisc, 2015)
  9. 9. Areas of Jisc researcher profile used ■Information and communications technology (ICT). ■Information, digital and media literacy skills. ■ Online communication skills (online research presence).
  10. 10. Digital literacy challenges ■Digital literacy is difficult to define and understand. ■Ongoing necessity to keep digital skills up to date. ■Lack of training at the point of need in research process. ■Huge increase in amount of electronic information: databases, journals and books etc. ■Changing technologies, obsolence and data security. ■Nature of specialised and interdisciplinary research.
  11. 11. Training preferences (survey data) challenges 50.0% 38.5% 61.5% 65.4% 73.1% 19.2% 50.0% 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% Response Percent Building an online research profile (50%) Using social media tools (38.5%) Using apps in your research (61.5%) Reference management software (65.4%) Research data management (73%) Using mobile database apps (19.2%) Data analysis tools (50%)
  12. 12. Sources of digital literacy help (survey data) 22.2% 63.0% 44.4% 11.1%14.8% 25.9% 77.8% 85.2% 14.8% Your Department (22.2%) Library Services (63%) IT Services (44.4%) Graduate School (11.1%) Learning Enhancement & Development Team (14.8%) Workplace colleagues (25.9%) Fellow students (77.8% ) Self taught (85.2%) Other universities (14.8% )
  13. 13. Interviews: some literal comments “PhD students, we have no time at all”. “I think the support I have had from the Library has been very good”. “I don’t really like social media. I am not out there in social media, not yet”. Digital literacy: “I would say if you’re able to use all the tools that are potentially helping or supporting your research”. “The thing is technology is good if it’s kind of time saving”. “My feeling is that I am largely self- taught”. “Yes, the discipline does actually affect things”. “I think that digital literacy is like an evolvement from what I know more traditionally as media literacy”
  14. 14. Some research findings ■Not possible to identify all factors influencing the digital literacy skills of research students. ■Self teaching and peer learning very important. ■Lack of training (eg. research methods, data analysis). ■Disciplinary or cross-disciplinary practices may influence the approaches. ■Factors such as ICT skills to manage the research and information, data and media literacy seemed more influential than demographic factors such as age and gender. ■Attitudes to social media use very polarised.
  15. 15. Discussion questions ■1. How can we practically assist research/ postgraduate students with their digital literacy and skills? ■2. To what extent can frameworks (eg. Jisc, ANCIL, SCONUL 7 pillars, Vitae Researcher Development Programme) be used to help design Information/ Digital Literacy training and support? ■3. Any successes as or ideas for being a practitioner researcher in Information/ Digital Literacy?
  16. 16. Output: Research impact guide http://libguides.city.ac.uk/researchimpact
  17. 17. Output: IL Researcher workshops http://libcal.city.ac.uk/calendar/workshops/
  18. 18. Recommendations and future research ■Key message: Research enhanced practice. ■A university doctoral training programme or an inter- university doctoral training centre would be beneficial. ■Different approaches such as individual appointments, workshops and use of technology such as Skype to assist part-time students. ■Offer research impact and digital social media workshops online and create new online research guides. ■Raise awareness of doctoral needs through conferences and publishing articles. ■Future research across universities to facilitate possible digital skills collaborations.
  19. 19. References ■ Barry, C. (1997) ‘Information skills for an electronic world: training doctoral research students’, Journal of Information Science 23 (3), pp. 225-238. Available at: http://0- jis.sagepub.com.wam.city.ac.uk/content/23/3/225.full.pdf+html (Accessed: 09/10/2015). ■ Dowling, R. and Wilson, M. (2015) ‘Digital doctorates? An exploratory study of PhD candidates’ use of online tools’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 2015 ■ Available at: http://0- Available at: http://0- www.tandfonline.com.wam.city.ac.uk/doi/pdf/10.1080/14703297.2015.1058720 (Accessed: 01/03/2016). ■ Gilster, P. (1997) Digital literacy. New York; Chichester, John Wiley. ■ Jisc (2015) Developing students’ digital literacy. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-students-digital-literacy (Accessed: 18/01/2016). ■ Jisc (2016) Building digital capability. Example researcher profile. Available at: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6238/1/Digital_capabilities_researcher_profile.pdf (Accessed: 21/04/2016). ■ Martin, A. (2006) ‘A European framework for digital literacy’, Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy 2 (1), pp. 151-161. Available at: https://www.idunn.no/dk/2006/02/a_european_framework_for_digital_literacy (Accessed: 19/06/2016).
  20. 20. Thank you for participating Any questions or discussion points? ■Research Library guide: http://libguides.city.ac.uk/researchers ■Research Impact guide: http://libguides.city.ac.uk/researchimpact ■IL workshop booking website: http://libcal.city.ac.uk ■Diane Bell diane.bell.2@city.ac.uk @dianelouisebell

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