Between 2009 and 2012 I led the implementation of the UK’s Library and Information Science Research Coalition. The broad mission of the Coalition was to facilitate a coordinated and strategic approach to Library and Information Science (LIS) research across the UK, strengthening links between LIS researchers and LIS practitioners, and between research and practice. This was achieved through the activities of the Coalition as a whole, and its ‘daughter’ projects: Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM), and the two-part Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Study.
Since 2012 researchers in the Centre for Social Informatics have been collecting evidence of the impact of the Coalition’s work on the UK LIS community. This has included conducting a formal study to explore the impact of of DREaM. The headline findings of ‘DREaM Again’ reported in autumn 2015 reveal that since completing the DREaM programme its 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
- Continued to work together in a loose, but persistent, network across the UK
There is also evidence of the academic impact of the work disseminated by the DREaM participants in terms of citations to the publications that they have produced since 2011/12. In addition, uptake of the methods used in the delivery of the DREaM project events has influenced the planning and organisation of other conferences and workshops.**
The work of the LIS Research Coalition has also had an impact on LIS communities beyond the UK. Of particular note is Library and Information Science Research Australia (LISRA), launched this month by a team that comprises Professor Helen Partridge of the University of Southern Queensland and Professor Lisa Given of Charles Sturt University. Funded by the Australian Research Council, LISRA aims to encourage and enable research culture and practice within Australia’s library and information profession. The project, which drew inspiration from the UK’s LIS Research Coalition, poses five research questions with the expectation of meeting six project outcomes.
Last week I enjoyed speaking with Helen and Lisa on Skype about their ambitions for LISRA and the enthusiasm for the project amongst the Australian LIS community at its recent launch event. This was a panel discussion entitled ‘The library and information professional as practitioner-researcher?’ held on 10th March 2016. The resources from this launch event are now available. They include a combined PDF of all the PowerPoint presentations, a Storify, and recordings of the discussion. These resources are well worth exploring, especially if you are interested in how links between LIS research and practice can be strengthened. I’m very much looking forward to learning more about LISRA as the project progresses, and wish Helen and Lisa all the best with the work – and the further initiatives that it will inspire.
**I will be discussing strategies for building and assessing long-term impact into LIS research projects, with particular reference to lessons learnt from DREaM and DREaM Again in the closing keynote speech at the 8th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries on Friday 27th May 2016.