An on-going concern of many professions, such as policing, social work, psychology, nursing, and teaching, is the “research-practice gap”, and the corresponding distance between researchers and practitioners within each community. Much of my work with the Library and Information Science (LIS) Research Coalition, and its associated projects Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) and the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES), sought to address the gap within LIS between 2009 and 2012.
Earlier this year I was pleased to learn that some LIS researchers and practitioners had come together in a project that aims to close this gap further. Their goal was to share their knowledge and expertise of research so that others will be able to undertake practitioner research (a) to inform their own practice, and (b) to develop the LIS evidence base. The output of this work is the new text book Research, evaluation and audit: key steps in demonstrating your value, edited by Maria J. Grant, Barbara Sen and Hannah Spring, and published this month by Facet. Although the primary audience for the book is LIS practitioners, it will also be a useful guide for undergraduate and postgraduate LIS students who are required to complete research projects as part of their degree courses. The text comprises three sections:
- Getting started introduces the concepts, ethics and planning stages of a research project.
- Doing research, evaluation and audit explores the fundamentals of projects, including the literature review, qualitative and quantitative research methods, data analysis and research tools.
- Impact of research, evaluation and audit provides a guide to writing up projects, translating project results and findings into practice, and dissemination them to the wider community.
When I was invited to write the foreword for the book I was delighted to see that a third of the contributing authors had been actively involved in the work of the LIS Research Coalition. They had, for example, participated at Coalition-organised events as programme committee members, speakers and delegates; been members of the DREaM project network and the DREaM project workshop cadre; and helped organise and/or took part in RiLIES project events such as focus groups and briefing sessions. Added to this, the list of authors includes individuals who have won prizes for their research work, including a member of the North West Clinical Librarian Systematic Review and Evaluation Group, the winner of the LIS Research Coalition sponsored Practitioner Researcher Excellence Award in 2012. I hope that many LIS practitioners and students will benefit from the sound advice to be found in this new addition to Facet’s catalogue.