RIVAL wrapped up… or is it?

RIVAL logoA week ago on Friday 12th February, Dr Bruce Ryan and I hosted part 2 of the last of the four networking events for our Royal Society of Edinburgh-funded RIVAL project. Over the course of the morning between 10:00 and 12:30, four teams worked online in break-out meetings on project outputs determined by the network members themselves. These are the delivery of a professional event in late 2021, an article for publication, a funding bid, and an evaluation report. In the last half hour of the meeting we all regrouped so that each of the coordinators of the four output teams had the opportunity to report back on their progress to everyone.

Team A, led by Morag Higgison of the Scottish Government, has worked on the format and content of a follow-up RIVAL event in the autumn. The current plan is to aim to meet again on Friday 19th November from 12:30-15:30 at Victoria Quay (pandemic permitting) to share stories about engagement in the RIVAL project and its impact on the work of network members. This will also be an opportunity to hear more about the outputs of the other teams, as noted below. One advantage of meeting again in person (we hope) is that we will be able to use some of the branded RIVAL supplies that are currently sitting in my office, unused, on campus at Merchiston.

The most developed of the four RIVAL project outputs is that of Team B led by Sean McNamara of CILIP Scotland. Sean and his team have co-authored an article for Information Professional magazine on some of the themes that the the network members have considered at the RIVAL events over the past two years. These include challenges related to practitioner implementation of research findings in practice, the dissemination of research evidence, and the promotion of the relevance of research to practitioners. The authors of the article have also written about the value of diversity in the RIVAL network in terms of the sectors represented, and the links between research evaluation and professionalism. The next step for Team B is to submit the article with some photographs from RIVAL events, with the expectation that it will be published in the spring.

Team C’s focus is a significant piece of work that, if successful, will allow network members to continue working together for an extended period on a new research project. The main focus is a research project funding bid to be submitted to the AHRC. Dr Diane Pennington is leading this work. Given the other current priorities of Team C members (notably the fast-approaching REF2021 deadline for those working in academia), the plan is to put this work on hold until the end of the current academic semester. Thereafter, the team members will undertake the preparatory work for the bid, to include a literature review and some preliminary empirical work to feed into the bid’s case for support. Even if the bid is not funded, it is hoped that this effort put its preparation will merit publication.

I am leading the work of Team D. We are responsible for writing an evaluation report to assess the extent to which RIVAL met its primary aim ‘to create a collaborative network of Scotland-based library and information science researchers and practising information professionals interested in maximising the impact and value of library and information science research’. In addition, we are keen to monitor the network members‘ opinions on the possible outcomes of RIVAL that we noted in the original grant proposal submitted to the RSE in 2018. On Monday we opened two questionnaires. Team D designed these to gather data from the network members that will allow us to make our assessment. We are keen to start data analysis next week, so have requested that the questionnaires be completed by the end of today.

So, although we have all participated in the last of the RIVAL events scheduled for the funding period (which ends on March 31st 2021), it’s probably not yet appropriate to say that RIVAL is wrapped up. That the collaborations continue may be viewed as indicative of the success of the project.

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