Defining research?

Doing research by Viewoftheworld via flickr CC

Earlier this year, I attended a one day ‘Research for LIS practitioners‘ seminar put on by ALIA in Sydney.

Last year, I completed a FOLIOz course in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP), also offered by ALIA.

This is a little story about the blurring of the lines between the two.

One of the criticisms I hear (and agree with) about our profession is the dearth of original research that furthers the profession as a whole.  I loved being at ALIA Access last year and I enjoyed watching the twitter stream from ALIA Information Online this year – but much of what is presented at these conferences is yet more examples of ‘what we did in our library’, which, while interesting and useful and worthwhile, don’t do much to further the profession overall and seem to be examples of EBLIP. Very good EBLIP, don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure it’s not unique to LIS professionals – but we seem to be very good at telling each other about the things we are good at (and the things that didn’t go so well) – the problem is, we are often preaching to the converted anyway so it is all just more of the same.  Following Online, there was much discussion among my twitter PLN on the future of the conference format – but that’s probably another post.

The ‘furthering our profession’ research seems to be most likely to come from the many PhD proposals that were discussed as participants took turns outlining their reasons for being at the seminar.

Meanwhile, I struggled a bit with the EBLIP course as I didn’t quite understand at the beginning the difference between research and using evidence based practice to make workplace decisions.  Much of what was outlined in the EBLIP literature was to do with evaluating previous research (or actually, previous ‘what we did in our library’) to build a business case or plan for proceeding with something in the workplace.  The whole point was to avoid re-inventing the wheel.

It didn’t help my confusion that the ‘burning question’ I formulated during the course proved to be something that there actually wasn’t very much literature on – further blurring the line between EBLIP and research (for me). I forget the details of the question, but it was to do with international students and information literacy instruction as that was something I was dealing with at work at the time.

I had hoped to get over to the UK this year to attend EBLIP6, partly to further my understanding of these 2 different, but overlapping areas of research (and partly to see my brother who lives over there!) but it was not to be.  I look forward to following the progress of the conference via the twitter stream and the papers that come out of it.

In the meantime, I continue to be a bit confused.

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3 responses

  1. I also wanted to get over to the UK and attend EBLIP6. Boo. And I continue to be confused with EBLIP. In theory, it’s great. When applying it, not so great. In my opinion, LIS literature is all about the same stuff. My ‘burning question’ too, could not be answered with existing literature. How are we to incorporate EBLIP into our professional, working lives if there’s nothing to refer to? If we’re to ‘further our profession’, someone out there needs to generate some unique research and/or instigate new avenues. But….what I think is the problem is not many people have the (!) courage to *gasp* break the echo chamber. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for EBLIP. I just wish there was a solid foundation of literature to draw from.

    1. I always forget that EBLIP is how I know you!

  2. [...] but still leaves me wondering about the users. Do they even want to know this stuff? I have blogged here before about the tendency of librarians (and I suspect, any given group of professionals) to talk amongst [...]

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