Beyond survey design: take survey data to the next level

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan

You’ve designed a survey, found the right participants, and waited patiently while responses come streaming in. The initial look at responses can be thrilling, but what happens next? I’ve used questionnaires as a data collection technique, and made the mistake of thinking the work is over once the survey closes. Kelley, Clark, Brown and Sitzia warn us about treating survey research as a method requiring little planning or time:

“Above all, survey research should not be seen as an easy, ‘quick and dirty’ option; such work may adequately fulfil local needs… but will not stand up to academic scrutiny and will not be regarded as having much value as a contribution to knowledge.”1

Let’s consider some steps to explore once data collection has been completed.

1) Data cleaning and analysis
Raw survey data is usually anything but readable. It takes some work to transform results into meaningful and shareable research findings. First of all, familiarize yourself with some of the relevant terminology, before moving on to actually working with the data. Before touching the dataset, you’re going to need to create four worksheets, one for raw data, one for cleaning in progress, one for cleaned data, and one for data analysis. Each worksheet shows a stage in the process, which will allow you to backtrack, or find errors. If you haven’t taken a stats class recently, I like this introductory Evaluation Toolkit, which clearly describes the processes of cleaning, tabulation, and analysis for both quantitative and qualitative data.

2) Visualization and reporting
Consider data visualization to bring your survey data to life, but remember to choose a visualization tool that makes sense for the data you’re trying to represent. The data visualization catalogue is a handy tool to learn more about the purpose, function, anatomy, and limitations of a wide range of visualizations. It includes links to software and examples of each visualization. There are lots of free or inexpensive programs to help create visualization including Microsoft excel, Google sheets, or Tableau Public. If you’re looking for some inspiration, take a browse through the stunning work of Information is Beautiful for ideas.

Likely you will want to share the outcomes of your research, either at your institution or in a paper or presentation. Kelley, Clark, Brown, and Sitzia provide a great checklist of information to include when reporting on any survey results, including research purpose, context, how the research was done, methods, results, interpretation, and recommendations.2 Clarity and transparency in the research process will help your audience to better understand and evaluate the research and its applicability to their context.

3) Data preservation and access
Consider an open data repository such as the Dataverse Project to make your data discoverable and accessible. Sharing your data comes with benefits such as “web visibility, academic credit, and increased citation counts.” You may also be required to archive your data to satisfy a data management plan or grant funding requirements, such as those from the Tri-Council. When archiving in a repository, remember to share your data in an accessible file format, and include accompanying files such as a codebook, project description, survey instrument, and outputs such as the associated report or paper. As a rule of thumb, aim to provide enough documentation that another researcher would be able to replicate your study. A dataset is a publication that you can cite in your CV, ORCID profile, in a paper, or presentation. Doing so is a great way encourage others to learn about your research or to build on your research project.

Getting your hands dirty and working directly with survey data is where you’ll be able to explore and eventually tell a compelling story based on your research. Be curious, persistent, and enjoy the process of research discovery!

1KATE KELLEY, BELINDA CLARK, VIVIENNE BROWN, JOHN SITZIA; Good practice in the conduct and reporting of survey research, International Journal for Quality in Health Care, Volume 15, Issue 3, 1 May 2003, Pages 261–266, https://doi.org/10.1093/intqhc/mzg031

2Ibid. p. 265.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Controlling Reuse in Archives: C-EBLIP Journal Club, May 22, 2018

by Stevie Horn
University Archives and Special Collections, University of Saskatchewan

Dryden, Jean. “Just Let It Go? Controlling Reuse of Online Holdings.” Archivaria 77 (Spring 2014). Pp,43-71. https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/view/13486

For the last C-EBLIP journal club meeting before our summer hiatus, I brought to the table an article by copyright expert Jean Dryden discussing the tension between access and control within the online archival realm. My selection of a somewhat dated article stemmed from this very tension. Archivaria is Canada’s premiere journal for archival professionals, and I was determined to choose a discussion piece from within its pages. Unfortunately, any issues more recent than 2014 are subscription locked, and so in order to find something that could easily be accessed by the rest of the group, it was necessary to jump back in time a bit.

So here, from the very selection of the article, we run into the issue at hand: the ongoing struggle archives and archivists face in simultaneously making materials available to their researchers, and maintaining some sort of control over those materials. I will note that although this article focuses on online holdings, the same access-control war is also being fought in the day-to-day physical work of the archives. When the job description involves making order out of chaos, control becomes a bit of an obsession.

Pursuing control over archival materials while providing access to them online has led to the creation of a number of unofficial best practices as well as some not-so-good practices that are common across institutions. Dryden highlights several, including the use of low-resolution or watermarked images which force users to contact the institution directly for images of a higher quality; the passive or aggressive application of terms and conditions on the website; and a practice Jason Mazzone termed “copyfraud”, or the claiming of copyright ownership over materials that are actually in the public domain, or whose copyright lies with another entity.

Following an extensive study based on viewing a number of archival websites, collecting surveys, and conducting one-on-one interviews with a number of participants, Dryden concludes that although most institutions employ some means of preventing the copying of online archival holdings, the repository is rarely, in fact, the rights holder. She suggests that archives should use caution in how they employ copyright, or the impression of copyright to ensure that they do not “present a barrier to online documentary heritage” (Dryden, 43).

The discussion around this article was wide-ranging and enriched by the professional backgrounds of those present. We spent some time speaking on how the nature of archival materials as being most often one-of-a-kind can affect the need for control. As an example, the citation requirements for an archival document may be much more stringent than those applied to a widely published text. A good citation may be the only path (and certainly the easiest path) to finding a given archival resource again. For many institutions, it is here that the pressure to assert some sort of control occurs, and where restrictions may be placed on the mass copying and redistribution of a high quality image, regardless of whether the image is in the public domain or not. An improperly cited digital object floating around the internet can be a great causer of future headaches. However, should we contradict our own mandates of providing access simply to avoid a headache (or in the case of institutions that rely on a pay-for-copies model, make a profit)? An ethical dilemma I will not tackle here.

Another interesting element of the discussion was the hypothesis that a better use of technology could more harmoniously provide both access and control over digital objects. For example, a step-by-step process could be applied, walking users through any questions of copyright involving the item they are interested in using. Clickable licenses related to that item could also be present for those looking for more detailed copyright information. Rather than providing a false sense of copyright being held over materials in the public domain in order to maintain control, a downloadable citation option could be offered alongside the image, with a statement as to why a reference back to the institution of origin is important.

Along these user-friendly lines, we also considered whether some of the language and symbolism around Creative Commons licenses could be applied to archival materials. Certainly, Creative Commons is a parlance that is becoming more familiar to many researchers, and applying that language to the materials that archives do hold copyright over may disambiguate some of the current restrictions on and requirements for use. It was suggested that applying a Creative Commons license to a donor’s materials could even be done at the point of acquisition as part of the deed of gift. Although this notion has not taken the archival world by storm, it does seem as though there is some discussion of this sort of synthesis going on from the Creative Commons end of things.

In the end, we came through our discussion of control and access with a few exciting new ideas and, I think, greater understanding all around. I appreciated hearing perspectives from voices outside of the archival world, as sometimes archivists can become so caught up in putting things tidily into boxes that we do not notice that we have boxed ourselves up as well.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

‘Divergent’ Funding Opportunities as Tools for Reflective Research

By Katya MacDonald
Library Research Facilitator, University of Saskatchewan

A few years ago, as a grad student feeling the financial pinch of multiple extended research trips, I stumbled across an informal, seemingly one-off blog post listing funding opportunities across diverse disciplines and regions. I read the whole list, but nothing seemed like a plausible fit. I clicked on one link anyway; it had the word “history” in it. I was working on a history PhD. Close enough?

Not really; the granting agency funded research that dealt with a very specific theme in a very different region that seemed to have little to no bearing on my work. But the society was offering money and it just so happened that I needed money. So, after some hours with coffee shop treats and pieces of paper with a lot of arrows and question marks drawn on them as I tried to articulate a connection to my work, I submitted an application.

To my surprise, I got the grant. But by explaining my work to a non-specialist audience, and by reframing it to suit the (oddly specific) requirements of the granting agency, I also got a revelation about my dissertation that allowed me to be more precise about my process and motivations. Being explicit about these components of my work led me to clearer, more accessible arguments and away from my own initial assumptions. The process of reframing was exactly what my research needed, and in the end I based my entire dissertation on the explanations I developed for the grant application.

I open with this anecdote not because I think anyone really hopes to replicate the experience of being an impoverished grad student! Instead, I want to expand on what this story suggests about serendipity and the broadening of perspective to see the grant as a potential fit. In the remainder of this post, I consider potential ways to “stack the deck” to take advantage of similar opportunities that, because they aren’t readily predictable, probably can’t form the core of a research project, but that can help to clarify or expand it in transformative ways.

To help focus my discussion, I informally canvassed grant announcements in the areas I list below, with librarian research networks in mind and an eye towards funding opportunities that seemed to sit outside of the most common or apparent funding channels. I wanted to think more about to what extent it’s possible and practical to cast a wider net for unexpected opportunities as part of the research process. Here, I’m calling these “divergent” opportunities to reflect the fact finding them often requires taking a different path than usual.

Where to look for divergent opportunities?

– Research and grant communications in adjacent/cognate disciplines, or in disciplines asking similar methodological/ethical/theoretical/practical questions
– Grants and agencies based in other countries that may offer awards with broader eligibility
– Research listservs (e.g. university-specific, H-Net groups, multidisciplinary and discipline-specific)
– Prizes (e.g. for articles, professional activities, conference papers) – these are sometimes structured around broad themes or questions, rather than specific, discipline-defined topics
– Smaller-scale grants or other opportunities may have more flexible requirements and require less investment of time if they feel like a long shot

How do we know a grant opportunity when we see it? (Or, how to think about research to encompass a broad scope of grant opportunities?)

– Research as a story: main plot points probably support the larger/most relevant funding opportunities, but side plots or incidental moments can branch out to additional, supplemental funding
– Identifying themes, questions, or concerns in common is sometimes easier than identifying a topic in common
– Conceptualizing research in terms of its relevance or novelty to a new or unexplored audience
– Describing projects to new audiences often creates new ways of depicting the importance of the research

Why invest time and effort into applications that might seem random or unlikely?

– Doesn’t have to involve a large investment of time: reframing is a way of gaining access to expanded opportunities – not changing the project, just emphasizing different aspects of it to suit broader or more diverse audiences
– Kickstarting a project that lacks direction or momentum
– Building innovative research connections and conversations
– Impetus and support for engaging ideas that might not otherwise comprise an entire research project
– Can serve as catalysts for expanding awareness/impact/scope of existing research
– Small, divergent grant applications can also become conference papers and/or articles

But is it just too out there?

– Applying for divergent grant opportunities is an exercise in determining the difference between non-negotiable ineligibility vs. finding ways to fit within requirements using novel or unexpected framing
– Innovative thinking and strong, well-justified ideas are nearly always welcome even if they don’t end up being fundable in the context of a specific grant

The question above that especially stands out to me is whether or how to justify the time spent on these kinds of divergent opportunities. In my opening anecdote, the eventual benefits were well worth the investment. But particularly given the unpredictable nature of when these opportunities crop up, that may not always be the case. Is it best to consider them as single-dose antidotes to burnout (certainly also the case in my opening anecdote), rather than as regular features of the research process? Or is there room to keep an eye out for a broader swath of seemingly unrelated opportunities as a matter of habit and as a tool for thoughtful research, just in case they lead to new insights and activities?

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Planning a Library Escape Room

By Gina Brander & Ann Liang
Saskatchewan Polytechnic Library

Stress Better is a semiannual Saskatchewan Polytechnic Library event designed to help students combat stress as they prepare for exams. As part of our 2017 event, the Library piloted an escape room at the Regina campus. Escape rooms are physical adventure games in which active participants solve a series of clues and puzzles to escape a room before the allotted time elapses. Academic libraries have used escape rooms for staff development workshops (Marks, 2017), library orientations (Salisbury & Ung, 2016), and library instruction (Pun, 2017). While our Library considered incorporating an information literacy component into the event, we ultimately decided that a fun, escapist approach would generate more interest and better support the aims of Stress Better. Given that many of our students more or less lock themselves in the library during this period of the semester, the irony of a library escape room was particularly appealing.

Outreach
Since no one on staff knew the first thing about running an escape room, we decided to reach out to local businesses and ask if they would be interested in developing a mini version of one of their rooms. Emails were sent to three local escape rooms, emphasizing the promotional benefits of the partnership and making clear that we would not offer remuneration. To our delight, all three rooms expressed interest in assisting with the escape room. The Library chose to partner with a local, family-run business that had received favourable reviews online, and which had offered to design a new room based on our individual needs.

Planning
Over the next week, the escape room co-owner and a librarian selected an appropriate space (a small, windowless study room), determined length of gameplay (15 minutes) and discussed potential storylines based on available library furniture and props (weeded books, filing cabinets, whiteboards, wall-hangings, etc.). The co-owner developed the design and flow of the room. Then, a week before the event, the room was closed to allow for set up and testing. A script and reset list were prepared for the Library, and a faculty group was invited to trial the room before the official launch.

Promotion
A variety of promotional methods were used. Due to the high foot traffic at the Regina campus, a chalkboard near the entrance and our frontline staff were the most effective channels of promotion. Participants returned to the library throughout the week to inquire about best time, which inspired us to promote a ‘time to beat’ on print posters and social media. This added competitive element kept the momentum going, and as the week progressed, we opened additional time slots at the request of students and faculty/staff.

Run & Reset
A staff member greeted each group and led them to the escape room. After laying down ground rules and introducing the scenario, they closed the (unlocked) door and set the clock. Each group was granted three clues, which could be requested via walkie-talkie. After the allotted time had elapsed (or after the group had ‘escaped’), the staff member returned to the room to debrief and answer questions about unsolved puzzles. After a brief photo shoot, the group was led out and the room was reset.

Takeaways
The escape room was successful, with 25 students and 14 faculty/staff taking part over the course of five days. In our post-Stress Better student survey, escape rooms were among the top three requested offerings at our next event. Based on our experiences, we can offer the following takeaways to libraries considering hosting a similar event:

• Faculty/staff want to participate! Consider leveraging an escape room for professional development, or as a method of raising employee awareness about issues like copyright.
• Team up with a local escape room for your first event. Utilizing the design expertise and props of an established escape room eliminates material costs and significantly reduces the amount of time required to plan the event.
• Elect one staff member to coordinate groups, send email reminders, and reset the room. Expect that they will have their hands full throughout the event.
• Pilot a room with a team of library staff to ensure participants have enough time to find their bearings, break through at least half of the puzzles, and team build.
• Host a ‘just for fun’ escape room with a competitive element to bring new students into the library and keep them coming back.
• Keep the momentum going by posting group photos and a ‘time to beat’ on social media.
• Utilize an escape room to offer a splashy, dynamic programming while also meeting the needs of students who use the library as a quiet study space.
• Expand your programming without expanding your budget by emphasizing the promotional benefits of partnering with your library.

Photo by Gina Brander

References

Marks, G. (2017). Escape Room! In the Library [PDF Document]. NJLA Annual Conference Poster Session. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12164/64

Pun, R. (2017). Hacking the research library: Wikipedia, Trump, and information literacy in the escape room at Fresno State. The Library Quarterly, 87(4), 330-336. Retrieved from https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/693489

Salisbury, F. & Ung, E. (2016). Can you escape the library escape room? Incite, 37(5/6), 24-25 Retrieved from https://search.informit.org/browseJournalTitle;res=IELHSS;issn=0158-0876

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Student Research Assistants in Library and Information Studies Research

by Cara Bradley, Teaching and Learning Librarian
University of Regina Library

Student research assistants (RAs) play an important (and often unsung) role in the conduct of academic research. I imagine that many of you, like me, have both been a research assistant yourself (while completing a degree) and also hired student research assistants to help with your own projects.

I’ve been thinking a lot about student research assistants lately. This reflection has been prompted by my recent experience:

– applying for a Tri-Agency Grant*, an application process that emphasizes the “development of talent” and HQP (Highly Qualified Personnel)

and

– hiring and supervising a student research assistant

To be quite honest, I feel like I’ve done a “good-ish” job at these two endeavours, but not definitely not a great job. I’ve been trying to figure out why, and to learn what I can do to improve in the future.

As I think this through, I’ve been struck by the somewhat unique position of librarians seeking to hire students to assist with their research. Faculty in the disciplines have access to a pool of potential applicants who have studied in their field, and can usually draw a clear line between the student research assistant’s experience and the development of HQP. Unless you work at one of the few Canadian universities with a MLIS (or equivalent) program, you do not have ready access to students with an interest and/or background in your LIS, and the line between the student’s experience and HQP can seem more difficult to draw.

Further reading has led me to the conclusion (a conclusion unfortunately reached after I submitted my grant application) that I’ve been too limited in my thinking about “development of talent.” Rather than stressing about how to create mini-librarians out of those who have no desire to be such, I need to think more broadly about the experience and training that I can provide to student research assistants. Extensive navigation of the labyrinthine Tri-Agency web sites eventually led me to the (well-hidden) Guidelines for Effective Research Training, in which SSHRC asserts that research training should “build both academic (research and teaching) competencies and general professional skills, including knowledge mobilization, that would be transferable to a variety of settings.” The site goes on to list some of these “valuable skills”:

• research methods and theories;
• publication and research communication;
• knowledge mobilization and dissemination;
• teaching in diverse settings and with various technologies;
• digital literacy;
• data management and analysis;
• research ethics;
• interdisciplinary research;
• consultation and community engagement;
• project and human resources management;
• leadership and teamwork; and/or
• workshops and conferences.

Hey, wait a minute! Those are exactly the kinds of skills that my grant-funded student research assistant would develop. This was a light-bulb moment for me. Although the grant application necessarily focuses on the details and minutiae of the proposed research project, I need to take a step back from this when describing the kinds of transferable skills that students would gain through working on my project. This insight will also help me to better engage and communicate with my research assistants, supporting them to realize and articulate their experience in ways that will benefit them in future research and employment environments.

I’ve also benefited from my reading of some of the literature around faculty-student mentoring relationships, as I’ve found that this relationship more closely reflects what I hope to offer student research assistants. In particular, Lechuga’s conceptualization of faculty as “allies, ambassadors, and master-teachers,” strikes a chord with me. He writes that the faculty he studied served as

allies to their students and took a supportive approach in working with them. Participants were apt to focus on the specific individual needs of their graduate students, either academically or otherwise. This finding is in line with other research on faculty-student relationships that has demonstrated the importance of providing personal support through formal and informal interactions

He goes on to describe another faculty role as that of “ambassador”:

In their role as agents of socialization, faculty served as ambassadors of the profession by imbuing students with a sense of professional responsibility and introducing them into the culture of academe.

Lechuga’s research on the faculty/student relationship has inspired me to expand my understanding of how I can support the growth and development of my student research assistants.

Now let’s hope that grant comes through!

* for those outside of Canada, the Tri-Agencies includes the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), and are the major government funders of research in Canada.

Reference
Lechuga, V.M. (2011). Faculty-graduate student mentoring relationships: mentors’ perceived roles and responsibilities. Higher Education 62(6): 757-771.

Doing Research as a Procrastinator

by Kristin Hoffmann, University of Western Ontario

I procrastinate.

I procrastinate with my research, and in many other aspects of my work. For example, I started writing this post at 1:43pm the day before it was due. At the same time, I needed to work on a mostly-unfinished presentation for a 40-minute workshop that I was delivering the next morning, and I hadn’t yet started compiling the data for a report that was due to colleagues at the end of the week.

I get things done, but I often do them at the last minute.

I used to berate myself all the time, and feel very, very bad about my tendency to procrastinate. Then I heard a podcast with Mary Lamia, author of What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions and Success, and now I’m starting to re-frame my procrastination in way that is helpful, not shameful:

I’m motivated by deadlines.

Here is Mary Lamia’s definition of procrastinators:

“People who are primarily motivated to complete tasks when their emotions are activated by an imminent deadline. They are deadline driven.”

The idea is that our emotions are what motivate us to get things done. For some people, the emotions that motivate them come from having a task to do and wanting to complete it. For people who procrastinate, the emotions that motivate us come from deadlines.

Other characteristics of people who procrastinate include:

• Being energized and getting increased focus as a deadline gets closer,
• Feeling like they lack motivation and concentration when they try to get something done ahead of time,
• Having ideas percolating in the background, which come together as the deadline approaches.

I can see all of these in myself, and it’s been quite a revelation for me in thinking about my approach to research. In the last six months, a colleague and I have taken a research project from idea to ethics application to data gathering to analysis—thanks, in large part, to the motivation brought on deadlines. I’ve had other research ideas and papers in various stages, but I haven’t touched any of them for months; they haven’t had deadlines.

I’ve often talked with other researchers about the benefit of having external deadlines, such as conference presentations or submission deadlines. I’m realizing that my particular challenge is to figure out how to reproduce the emotional motivation of deadlines when an external due date doesn’t exist. I don’t need to feel bad about procrastinating, I just need to accept that I’m motivated by deadlines.

References and Further Reading

Lamia, Mary. What Motivates Getting Things Done: Procrastination, Emotions and Success. Rowman & Littlefield. 2017.

Blog posts by Mary Lamia at Psychology Today:
• Getting Things Done, Procrastinating or Not, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201703/getting-things-done-procrastinating-or-not
• The Secret Life of Procrastinators and the Stigma of Delay, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201708/the-secret-life-procrastinators-and-the-stigma
• How Procrastinators Get Things Done, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201709/how-procrastinators-get-things-done
• Why You Should Hire a Procrastinator https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201712/why-you-should-hire-procrastinator

Podcasts:
• CBC Tapestry, Procrastination 101, aired November 26, 2017, available at http://www.cbc.ca/radio/tapestry/procrastination-101-1.4416658
• Success.com, Ep. 85: What Type of Procrastinator Are You?, aired October 17, 2017, available at https://www.success.com/podcast/ep-85-what-type-of-procrastinator-are-you

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Making a Database Demo Meaningful

by Kaetlyn Phillips and Tasha Maddison
Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Librarians from Saskatchewan Polytechnic interact with the Practical Nursing program at various touch points during the students’ two years on campus. In semester two of the program, to support a case study assignment, the Library provides instruction on evidence-based, comprehensive, point-of-care drug databases. The assignment requires that students determine which prescribed medication is causing problems for the patient. Previous sessions involved an instructor-led demonstration, leaving time for independent exploration of the databases with no formally structured student activity. After considering student and instructor feedback from 2016, the librarian identified that instruction could be more meaningful for students, which in turn would add value to the information and lead to greater student success.

To create a more effective teaching strategy, librarians added hands-on active learning activities. These activities incorporate problem-solving, role-playing, and discussion components which increase student engagement (Rush, 2014). By incorporating active learning, the session shifted from a librarian-centred to student-centred learning environment. In the revised session, after a demonstration and independent practice, students discussed their personal preferences. This active learning component enabled students to gain familiarity with all database options and select one based on their information needs.

After the discussion, students were given 20 minutes to complete a “Medical CSI” game. It required students to form groups of three, with each group member using a different database. Students analyzed a profile listing the patient’s age, gender, conditions, current afflictions, and prescriptions. The profile featured an unexplained symptom and students used the drug databases to find the underlying cause. If a group was able to find the answer to the mystery on all three databases, they won a prize or could choose from the ‘Box of Mystery’– a collection of prizes ranging from candy to printer credit to bookmarks. In addition, the Medical CSI game appealed to students by creating a game-based learning environment, but also incorporated problem-based learning, which involves students working in teams to analyze and solve a problem (Ferrer Kenney, 2008). The addition of competitive elements created a game-based activity, furthering the active learning environment by including collaboration, peer discussion, role-play, and creativity, which increase student motivation and engagement with the materials (Rush, 2014).

To conclude the lesson, participants were asked to complete a quick assessment. The ‘Exit Slip’ used the 3,2,1 format, and participants were asked to list three things they learnt, two things they enjoyed, and one thing to improve for future sessions. Feedback from the exit slips was positive, with 10 of the 13 exit slips mentioning enjoyment of the activity for its hands-on approach and unique problem. Additional comments praised the rewarding of prizes, especially the ‘Box of Mystery’.

While the changes to the lesson are considered a resounding success, the session was not flawless. One problematic element was students’ hesitancy to form teams. This problem has been identified in research literature discussing game-based instruction and team activities (Watson et al., 2013; Turner, Ketchum, Ratajeski, & Wessel, 2017). The cause of this hesitancy is unclear, and could be related to a mix of factors including physical space, class dynamics, or pre-existing beliefs about library sessions. The easiest solution to these issues is incorporating more active learning activities, which will serve to change the pre-existing attitudes students and faculty have about library sessions. In addition, consulting with the program instructor about the session and expected group can provide the librarian with a better understanding of the class dynamic.

References
Ferrer Kenney, B. (2008). Revitalizing the one-shot instruction session using problem-based learning. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 47(4), 386-391. Retrieved from https://journals.ala.org/index.php/rusq.

Rush, L. (2014). Learning through play, the old school way: Teaching information ethics to millennials. Journal of Library Innovation, 5(2), 1-14. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/journaloflibraryinnovation/.

Turner, R.L., Ketchum, A.M., Ratajeski, M.A., Wessel, C.B. (2017). Leaving the lecture behind: Putting PubMed instruction into the hands of the students. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 36(3), 292-298. doi:10.1080/02763869.2017.1332267.

Watson, S.E.; Rex, C.; Markgraf, J.; Kishel, H.; Jennings, E.; & Hinnant, K. (2013). Revising the “one-shot” through lesson study: Collaborating with writing faculty to rebuild a library instruction session. College & Research Libraries, 74(4), 381-398. doi:10.5860/crl12-255

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Future of Brain-Work

Brain-Work has been publishing weekly for the past four years and the blog advisory team is using this anniversary as an opportunity to review how the blog is working for you, our readers. We are looking at all aspects of the blog and everything is up for discussion – the topics we cover, the type and length of posts, publishing frequency, the name – everything!

We want to hear from what you like about Brain-work, what you would like to see changed, and how the blog can support your research and professional practice. Let us know what you think in the short survey below. We will share the results on the blog and use your feedback to help guide the future of Brain-Work.

Take the Brain-work reader survey now.

Researcher Degrees of Freedom

by Marjorie Mitchell
Research Librarian, UBC Okanagan Library

I recently learned about the concept of researcher degrees of freedom. The idea is that, as researchers, we make many decisions about the data we collect and how we analyze it (Simmons, Nelson & Simonsohn, 2011) and that these decisions have a direct impact on the results of our research. Obviously. And this is what begins to make this concept so powerful. I’ve been familiar with the idea of researcher bias, but this is a more subtle concept. I want to make it clear that I am not talking about deliberate falsifying of research results, but about the real choices a researcher who has gathered data, in any form, is faced with making during the journey from research question construction through gathering data through publication. Some of these choices include what data is being gathered and what is not, how to handle data outliers, how to group or cluster points of data when looking for significance or impact, and so on.

The concept has been around for some time and has been explored in the fields of medicine, psychology, and more widely in the sciences, where researchers were finding they could not replicate the results from published research studies. It’s spawned a whole area of research on false positive results, publication bias (more papers are published that show positive results than show negative results), selective reporting of results, and an “Open Science” network.

Evidence-based practice, no matter what field or discipline, has been one method of critically analyzing research results. It’s a valuable tool, but only one of many that can be applied. I, personally, would like to see more credit being given for rigorously trying to replicate previously conducted research. I would also like to see the publication of more null-results reports. It is incredibly handy to know a particular path is not a useful path to follow. I have to admit, I don’t know whether I’m ready to participate in the registration of my research methods in advance of collecting data. “A registration is useful for certifying what you did in a project in advance of data analysis, or for confirming the exact state of the project at important points of the lifecycle, such as manuscript submission or the onset of data collection” (Centre for Open Science, 2018). This certainly raises the bar for research.

We have a journal club in my library where we meet to discuss recent articles from the library literature. I am pleased with the “skeptical eye” we often apply to the articles we read, but I wonder whether our critical and skeptical reading ultimately makes us less biased researchers.

More often than not, it is challenging to attempt to make these decisions in advance of conducting out research. I admit to thinking “I’ll just have a look at the results of my survey before I commit to an hypothesis.” Often my research never reaches the publication stage but our research will ultimately be stronger if we try to make these decisions in advance.

I continue to look for new lenses to apply to the research I do and to the research I consume. It has not been my intent to criticize the people doing research but to discuss the challenges and struggles I wrestle with as I continue down a research path. I hope this concept will be of interest to others as well.

References
Center for Open Science. (2018).OSF FAQs What is registration? https://cos.io/our-services/top-guidelines/

Dickersin, K., Chan, S., Chalmersx, T. C., Sacks, H. S., & Smith, H. (1987). Publication bias and clinical trials. Controlled Clinical Trials, 8(4), 343-353. doi:10.1016/0197-2456(87)90155-3

Kepes, S., Banks, G. C., & Oh, I. (2014). Avoiding bias in publication bias research: The value of “null” findings. Journal of Business and Psychology, 29(2), 183-203. doi:10.1007/s10869-012-9279-0

Pickett, J. T., & Roche, S. P. (2018). Questionable, objectionable or criminal? public opinion on data fraud and selective reporting in science. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(1), 151-171.
doi:10.1007/s11948-017-9886-2

Simmons, J. P., Nelson, L. D., & Simonsohn, U. (2011). False-positive psychology: Undisclosed flexibility in data collection and analysis allows presenting anything as significant. Psychological Science, 22(11), 1359-1366. doi:10.1177/0956797611417632

Stahl, D., & Pickles, A. (2018). Fact or fiction: Reducing the proportion and impact of false positives. Psychological Medicine, 48(7), 1084. doi:10.1017/S003329171700294X

Pickett, J. T., & Roche, S. P. (2018). Questionable, objectionable or criminal? public opinion on data fraud and selective reporting in science. Science and Engineering Ethics, 24(1), 151-171. doi:10.1007/s

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Writing in the library: A story of exasperation

by Tegan Darnell, Research Librarian
University of Southern Queensland, Australia

As a research librarian doing a work–based Doctorate, with some work time dedicated to research, I thought I would find time to write. I even have time in my electronic calendar set aside for research activities. What I have found, however, is that a university Library is no place to write.

We work in an open plan office space, surrounded by our colleagues and in particularly close proximity to members of our work team. It is a great space to work together, to chat about incidentals, or encourage communication. I do not dislike it. In fact, I rather enjoy it when I’m busy answering inquiries or responding to urgent issues.

I have tried all the things to try and write.

I have tried:
• headphones
• headphones with loud music
• headphones with soft music
• wearing a hoodie
• wearing a hat

and even

• sitting under my desk with a laptop.

It doesn’t help. People can see me. They know I am there. They can say ‘Excuse me’, tap me on the shoulder, or send me an email – and they know that I just got it because it popped up in my notifications and they can see my computer screen…

It is no place to write.

I tried writing in the Library space. Surely, I thought, this would be the ideal place to write.

The private study carrels were all taken, so I sat down on a lounge with my laptop actually in my lap, ready to go.

“Hi! How is your research going?” someone asked within fifteen short minutes.

Shortly after returning to my writing, some students started moving the furniture around to set up a table for a group project. A few minutes later, the security gates went off. A small child took up residence on the lounge opposite me, rolling around on the seat. A student (and parent) snapped at the child and dragged them away by the arm.

The Library is no place to write.

Research writing takes focus. It takes time – dedicated time – and concentration. I have none of these resources in abundance.

I get out of the Library.

On campus is a small, abandoned office with carpet that lifts off the floor under the chair. The corridors here are silent, and no one ever pops in for a visit. There is no name on the door. There is no phone connection. This room is not connected to the heating or air conditioning system and has its own noisy air conditioner on one wall. I leave it turned off.

I turn off my email, and turn on an alarm to let me know when I can have a break to check for urgent messages.

Forty-six minutes of writing.
_____________
Bing dong bee ding! Bing dong bee ding!

This article gives the views of the author and not necessarily the views the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.