I have recently accepted an invitation to give the closing keynote paper at the 8th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries (QQML 2016) on Friday 27th May at Senate House, London.
The main theme of my presentation, entitled What happens next? Strategies for building and assessing the long-term impact of research projects, will be the impact of research and its measurement. These are important topics at a time when benefits to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life beyond academia of any piece of research are expected to be considered when a project is being planned. The long-term value of investing in the proposed work should be made explicit in the same way that a project’s overall purpose, aims, objectives and research questions are clear in any successful bid for funding.
In my presentation I will make reference to the Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study (RiLIES) completed in 2011 by members of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. This concluded that impactful Library and Information Science (LIS) research exhibits certain characteristics. It:
- enjoys high-level support
- involves the participation of practitioners
- engages a dissemination strategy that takes into account practitioner preferences for consuming research output that is presented in an accessible way.
This earlier work also highlighted the importance of employers and professional bodies in supporting LIS practitioners keen to engage with research. I will take the opportunity at QQML 2016 to relate how these findings influenced the Centre for Social Informatics’ delivery of the AHRC-funded Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project in 2011/12, the goal of which was to develop a UK-wide network of LIS researchers.
I will then explain how additional funding for a follow-up study to DREaM (entitled DREaM Again) was used last year to measure DREaM’s impact three years after its formal end. In summer 2015 DREaM participants who attended all three of the research methods workshops (the core of the DREaM event series) completed surveys, and contributed to focus groups in London and Edinburgh. The findings of the follow-up study reveal that since completing the original programme the participants have:
- implemented new and innovative research methods and techniques in workplace environments
- disseminated relevant, high priority research output to inform policy, determine information services provision, and develop the future LIS research agenda
- enhanced possibilities for the exploration of new research initiatives
We have also been able to confirm that the members of this group continue to work together in a loose, but persistent, network across the UK. Other impacts of the DREaM project have also been noted, such as the academic impact of the work disseminated by the cadre members, and uptake of the methods used in the delivery of the DREaM project in the organisation of other projects and events.
My closing keynote speech at QQML 2016 will thus focus on strategies for building and assessing long-term impact of LIS research projects with particular reference to lessons learnt from DREaM and DREaM Again.
It is fitting that I have been asked to make this presentation at QQML 2016 given that four years ago I was the co-presenter of two well-received papers at QQML 2012:
- one on RiLIES co-authored with Peter Cruickshank and Ella Taylor-Smith (slides available on SlidesShare)
- another on DREaM co-authored with Dr Alison Brettle and Professor Charles Oppenheim (slides available on SlideShare)