Librarians as doctoral researchers - Jane Secker & Mary Delaney
Librarians as Doctoral Researchers:
opportunities and challenges when
practising librarians become researchers
Dr Mary Delaney, IT Carlow
Dr Jane Secker, LSE
With Claire McAvinia DIT
LILAC 2016: 21-23rd March 2016, UCD, Dublin
The question isn’t why have we have doctor /
librarians, the question is why have we not got
Would being a researcher help you to be a better librarian?
If so why? If not, why not?
Share an example of any research you have done to inform your
Despite the fact that librarianship involves dealing with finance,
implementing and developing cutting edge IT, designing and managing
physical learning spaces, delivering knowledge in increasing varieties of
genres, repository management, and regardless of the fact that we are a
graduate profession, librarians are still too often seen as passive
curators of knowledge, rather than producers, or partners in the
production of knowledge.
Rethink our identity
• Librarians as researching practitioners and librarians as practising researchers
• Consider the potential of assuming a researcher’s identity and how that may
influence how we see ourselves and how we are seen by others
• Be researchers , not just supporting researchers
Some personal perspectives
Who might be in the same boat?
• Teaching and learning people/Academic developers
• T&L units, centres in flux (constantly!)
• ‘Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’ with journals, conferences, professional
• But academic perception as compliance-oriented, service, or support/helpdesk in
the case of learning technologies
• Ways to address this and build identity through research, representation
• … and perhaps through funding?
Community of Practice
• Join a bigger community of practice
• Teaching and Learning, Academic Colleagues, Wider pedagogical debate ,
specific discipline area
• Be an expert among experts
• But continue to be librarians…
• Researching skills
• Writing skills
• Communication skills
• Academic currency
Questions for discussion
• How do we develop and grow confidence in this space?
• How can we reflect on a developing identity as producers and partners in the production of
• Who can help us? Who is out there to consult with? How can we build networks?
• Can we develop local forums to reflect, document experience as project managers and
researchers with access to resources, experience in public speaking?
• What information and literature do we need to be engaging with? How can we share that
with each other?
• What are the key conferences and events we can share, and contribute to?
• Can we engage more people in doctoral programmes?
Some suggestions ….
• Consult your critical friends and build up a network
• We are strategically positioned researchers with access to resources,
experienced in public speaking and managing projects
• Read widely – abstracts, table of contents, in & outside professional literature
• Altmetrics / conferences / seminars
• Consider Taught Vs Research Doctoral programmes
• Go for it!
Talk to people outside the profession
• Build up expertise
• Growing body in Ireland and beyond
• Be unexpected
• Write and publish
• Present at conferences
The importance of becoming more visible at the ‘top table’ does
not just have implications for how we package and sell our existing
and traditional services however, but also for how we must adapt
our skills and structures to changing times and needs. In many ways,
we are only at the beginning of this journey.
(Libfocus, Reflections on inaugural CONUL conference)
Actions from today
• We will use your feedback to LILAC / other professional networks to help resolve
some of the challenges
• Can each person in the audience reflect for a moment – take away one question they
have, and one action they will implement either during the rest of the conference or
once back at work?
• ACRLog, 2011, Why all the fuss over Academic PhD Librarians? http://acrlog.org/2011/04/13/why-all-the-fuss-
• Cullen, 2014, Librarians as Knowledge Producers, Keynote address to Academic & National Library Training
Co‐operative ‘Librarian as Researcher Seminar (Thursday 8th May, 2014) Maynooth University
• Dalton, M, 2014, Libfocus : Reflections on inaugural CONUL
• Dunne, M. (2005). Becoming a researcher: a research companion for the social sciences. Berkshire: Open University
• McCluskey, C. 2013. Being an embedded research librarian: supporting research by being a researcher. Journal
of Information Literacy, 7(2), pp. 4-14. http://dx.doi.org/10.11645/7.2.1815