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Researchers' learning lives. Bent & Webb


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Presented at LILAC 2008

Published in: Education
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Researchers' learning lives. Bent & Webb

  1. 1. Researchers’ learning lives symposium information literacy and researchers Moira Bent Jo Webb Pat Gannon-Leary
  2. 2. Background • RIN surveys and research • Research – De Montfort workshops – Interviews • Subsequent presentations, feedback and research and reflection – Emergent model of ‘7 ages of research’ (articles at press and conference papers)
  3. 3. What this session will cover • Interactive discussion of how: – we should/would define and describe ‘research’ and ‘researchers’ – what we might agree to be researchers’ learning needs – how those learning needs change based on age / career stage / experience and external influences • Some ways of using educational theory to interpret researchers’ learning needs • Suggestions for practical application Session will be interactive and participative
  4. 4. What we won’t tell you • How to run a perfect workshop • A blueprint for working with all researchers • The solutions to the JSS / Roberts / REF agenda/s – You must define your own institutional framework
  5. 5. What do you think? • What is research? What is a researcher? • Who are the researchers with whom you work? • What do you think are your researchers’ learning needs?
  6. 6. What the researchers said 1 Research is • Theory-led; Data-led; Scholarship • Grounded in disciplines; multi / inter / trans disciplinary • Investigation; interpretation; gathering evidence • A holistic activity; a set of transferable skills • Collaborative / solo activity • Related to self • Validated by peer group • Made meaningful by an external audience … concept is disputed at every level but meaning is often implicit and not known outside CoP
  7. 7. What the researchers said 2 Researchers are: • Usually recognised within organization and… • people who find out new things, reflect and take action • at different levels and career stages • working in different disciplines • obliged to share what they find – to put knowledge into the public domain • ready to be challenged • making connections • passionate • ambitious
  8. 8. 7 ages of research • Masters students • Doctoral students • Contract researchers • Early career researchers • Established academic staff • Senior researchers • Experts { { {
  9. 9. Life course analysis of IL • Sociological approach to reviewing sociostructural and institutional contexts of life paths in contemporary societies o Perspective on research/er careers and hence information needs • Individual through progress/process of life and organization • Stages / Link of learning / information need and development
  10. 10. Early • Apprenticeship - influenced by supervisors / tutors / mentors • Skills and competences are defined (also funded and monitored) • Different levels of control • Transition from structured learning to self-organization • Interaction between personal life / prior experiences • Managing different roles e.g. other jobs, developing teaching skills • Information consumer, objective is production
  11. 11. Early • I consider myself to be at the start of my research career, although I have been doing research for about 4 years. [Recent PhD graduate, South Africa] • I don’t think I was a good researcher for my PhD. You need to have a mentor to show you the ropes and the pitfalls. You can train for some things. The best is to work alongside someone successful and learn from them. [Dean of Research, UK] • I reckon I spent nearly all my first year reading journal articles. [Computing Sciences Final year PhD]
  12. 12. Mid • Moving field / moving role / learning a different landscape • Balancing teaching and research • support / info guiding work management in different circumstances • situating yourself / making your name / establishing credentials – locally (e.g. in department) – wider research community • Need to be adaptable / avoiding isolation • Starting to supervise other researchers • Starting role in management / administration • Information production and consumption • Shift from systematic to pragmatic information retrieval – ‘Librarians love to search. Everyone else likes to find’
  13. 13. Mid • I hardly ever use databases, probably because I’m not usually starting from a position of knowing nothing. I tend to start with a few key papers and then follow up their references. [Senior lecturer in Biology] • I used to be focused in my approach to finding mainstream resources, now I’m less so, more explorative. I guess looking for inspiration for my more mainstream ideas. [Senior Research Fellow in creative technologies] p.158
  14. 14. Late / Senior • Developing into/ having a significant role in research leadership and administration • Leading research teams / research centres / research projects / mainstream management • Supervising and examining theses • Teaching research methods • Plenary conference speaker • Editorial board of journals etc. • Refereeing / peer reviewer / specialist assessor • Disseminating research practice or defining their field • Different IL skillsets for range of activities
  15. 15. Late • I have 5 years to retirement but research is becoming more important in my career. I still have one, even though retirement is looming [South African researcher] • If I couldn’t find it myself on the Internet, then I’d ask my students first, my RAs, then I’d come to the library. The RAs live and die finding info. [Professor of Industrial Statistics, UK] • These days all my papers are invited plenaries and similar tertiary reviews. [Retired Professor of Chemistry, UK] • As a researcher, the difference is that I know how to do research and I am connected into all the networks. [Dean of Research, Humanities, UK]
  16. 16. Researchers learning lives • Andragogy or pedagogy? – Recognise the need to know – Researchers should be responsible for own decisions and treated as capable of self-direction – Role of previous and ongoing experience – Readiness to learn – Orientation to learning • Overly-didactic approaches are not key to effective IL development
  17. 17. Researchers’ learning lives - the 7 ages model • Different conceptions of research and learning needs / IL by age and/or career stage • Interviews indicated: – Earlier experiences (and emotions) influenced present behaviours – Needs and priorities varied at discrete career stages – Attitudes and values change at each stage • Threshold concepts and life course analysis • IL is more than skills and training and must include attitude and values based in the wider concept of a life course
  18. 18. IL and Researchers • Recognise differences • Skills and information behaviours • Focus on management and information need rather than finding • Change agency / advocacy role Engagement Enabling Empowerment