Future of Brain-Work

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Describing a phenomenon through experience: C-EBLIP Journal Club, February 16, 2016

by Carolyn Pytlyk
Research Facilitator
University Library, University of Saskatchewan

Article:
Forster, M. (2015). Phenomenography: A methodology for information literacy research. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 1–10. doi: 10.1177/ 0961000614566481.

Way back in October at the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, Margy MacMillan from Mount Royal University talked about phenomenography as a new methodology for conducting research on information literacy. Phenomenography is “the empirical study of the limited number of qualitatively different ways in which various phenomena in, and aspects of, the world around us are experienced” (Marton quoted in Forster, p. 1). Margy’s enthusiasm and excitement for phenomenography certainly piqued my interest. In my conversations with library researchers, research methodology is often to topic of discussion when planning research projects, applying for grants, or developing research budgets and can sometimes be a stumbling block for researchers. As such when it came my turn to convene Journal Club, I thought Forster’s review article might be a good opportunity to explore phenomenography as a viable library research methodology for library researchers.

The majority of our conversation revolved around whether phenomenography was indeed a useful new methodology for conducting library research or not. For the most part, we agreed that from the perspective of the review article, it seemed a rather complex and involved methodology. However, in the end, we couldn’t really tell without actually following a researcher through the process. This review article was a fairly good introduction to and overview of phenomenography but to really understand its complexity, we agreed that we would need to read research employing phenomenography as a methodology to see how it works and if it is really as complex as it seems at the outset.

While presenting an intriguing and possible methodological alternative, this article left us with many more questions than answers. Some questions stemming from this review article include:
1. Is this a useful methodology? Would library researchers use it?
2. Is it a methodology about how we think?
3. How do researchers unobtrusively interview people without priming the participants? Is it even possible?
4. Is it a complex methodology, or does it just seem like it?
5. What are the steps involved? How does someone actually do it?
6. Could it be appropriate for library research other than information literacy (like usability or librarians as researchers)?
7. What other methodologies are out there in other disciplines that are possible for library research?
8. What sorts of learning/training would researchers need before undertaking phenomenography?
9. Do researchers have to be experienced interviewers to use it?

Still, despite the numerous unanswered questions, we were not deterred and were in agreement that we are all keen to learn more about it and its process.

Finally, we rounded out our conversation with the value of review articles, although not all of us are keen on them. (Don’t worry; I won’t name names.). Forster’s article not only opened our eyes to phenomenography as a new methodology; it also opened our eyes to the value of review articles as providing overviews of new methodologies, both as consumers and producers of knowledge.

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.

Happy Holidays from C-EBLIP!

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

The Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) at the University Library, University of Saskatchewan would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy holiday season and all the best in 2016. Brain-Work will continue to feature stimulating blog posts from C-EBLIP members and adjunct members in the New Year.

Looking back on 2015, we were again pleased at the national response to the second C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers, held on October 14, 2015. Librarians from across Canada gathered in Saskatoon to explore what it means to be librarians who are also researchers and to share research projects and experiences in a collaborative and collegial one-day event. This year, we were extremely pleased to have our Researcher in Residence, Selinda Berg from the University of Windsor, facilitate a pre-symposium workshop on the topic of turning an idea into a researchable question. Other activities in 2015 originating from C-EBLIP were the writing circle where U of S librarians meet for accountability and protected writing time and the C-EBLIP journal club, now into its second year.

2015 also saw the hiring of a full time Research Facilitator (RF). Previously, we had been sharing an RF with the College of Education, but the results of having such support (manifesting in successful grant applications, including a SSHRC!) led the University Library to commit resources to hire a full time RF. In addition to the grant and funding support for our librarian faculty members, the RF will provide assistance for sabbatical and ethics applications, coordinate the Research Mentorship Team program (new this year to C-EBLIP), and provide effective advice and assistance to librarians in many areas of the research enterprise including but not limited to: articulating and developing a program of scholarship; research project design; managing research projects; developing C.V.s; publishing and disseminating research. Carolyn Pytlyk was hired effective July 1, 2015 as the full time University Library Research Facilitator.

2016 will bring new challenges and new opportunities. The potential of a new year is always exciting. I hope to connect with many more librarians in the year ahead as C-EBLIP continues its mission of supporting librarians as researchers and promoting evidence based library and information practice. Happy New Year!

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.

Data for Librarians: C-EBLIP Journal Club, October 1, 2015

by Kristin Bogdan
Engineering Library, University of Saskatchewan

At the second meeting of the C-EBLIP Journal club for 2015-2016, held on October 1, 2015, we discussed the article:

MacMillan, D. (2014). “Data Sharing and Discovery: What Librarians Need to Know”. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 40, 541-549. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2014.06.011

I chose this article because it is a nice overview of the key things that librarians should be familiar with about data and data management. MacMillan does a great job of synthesizing the information out there and applying it in a Canadian context, where current data management trends are not as driven by granting agencies as they are in other jurisdictions (although that could be coming). There was general agreement that the article was a useful place to start when it comes to understanding where data management can fit into library services and systems.

The flow of the discussion changed as we looked at data sharing and discovery based on the roles that librarians and information scientists fulfill in this context. We recognized that the library is a possible home for research data and that we have a role as educators, curators, and stewards of data, but we are also researchers who consume and produce data. These points of view overlap and complement each other, but also offer different ways of looking at how the library can be involved.

When it comes to our role as curators and stewards of data, we discussed the kinds of things that could make data sharing difficult. The members of the Journal Club acknowledged that there is a difference between being able to find data and being able to provide those data to patrons in a way that is usable and sustainable. Infrastructure is required for data sharing and discovery, and there are many possible ways to make this happen. Should libraries have their own repositories or take advantage of existing repositories? What are the possible down-sides of housing data in institutional repositories instead of those that are discipline-specific (highlighted by MacMillan on page 546)? How can we work together to make the most of our limited resources and provide the most comprehensive services for Canadian researchers? Resources are being collected by the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL), including a list of institutional repositories and adoptive repositories (http://www.carl-abrc.ca/ir.html). We talked briefly about data journals as dissemination venues, but wondered about the implications of publishers owning this content.

Issues around data privacy also came up in the discussion. Concerns were raised around security and the measures in place to make sure the individuals’ identities were protected. The Saskatchewan Research Data Centre (SKY-RDC) was identified as an example of how data can be distributed in a controlled way to protect research subjects (more about the SKY-RDC here: http://library.usask.ca/sky-rdc/index.html). In terms of research data, we came to the conclusion that privacy will trump sharing in terms of sensitive data.

Our role as data producers and consumers brought up concerns about when it was appropriate to release data that was still being written about. The idea of being scooped came up as a possible deterrent to making data public. This applies to “small” data as much as to “big” data. There were also concerns about how data sets would be used after they were made public. What if they were not used in a way that was consistent with their intended purpose? Data documentation can help users understand the data and use it in a way that enriches their research but acknowledges the possible limitations of the original data set. Data citation is an important if still relatively new thing, and part of our role as stewards and creators will be to make citing data as easy and common-place as citing other materials.

In the end, I think this article was a great place to begin the discussion of data sharing and discovery in the context of libraries for the C-EBLIP Journal Club. The discussion generated more questions than answers, which made it clear that this is a topic worthy of further investigation.

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.

C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers – A Synopsis

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)

On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice at the University Library, University of Saskatchewan, held its very first Fall Symposium with the theme of Librarians as Researchers.

Wow, I say! The speakers were inspiring, the food was excellent, the door prizes were fun, and the atmosphere was convivial. Let me give you quick synopsis of the day.

Registration opened at 8am with Carisa and Crystal checking everyone in and making sure everyone had what they needed, including an entry form for the door prize draws. At 8:45, I welcomed participants to the longest room ever (the Marquis Private Dining Room on the U of S Campus is a long rectangular space that turned out to work well for our group with plenty of room for the food and coffee table at the back). I was pleased to be able to introduce the Fall Symposium’s keynote speaker, Margy MacMillan from Mount Royal University, who spoke about the interactions between the what and the why of research. You can check out the keynote abstract and Margy’s bio right here. Margy’s talk involved some interactive work as we thought about and shared our first research questions as well as our most memorable research questions.

IMG_1025resizeLongRoom

The day’s single-track session stream was a good format for this one-day symposium. Presenters had 20 minutes to speak and entertain questions. Session topics were broad and interesting, and the full range of abstracts can be found here. A feature of the symposium was ample time for connecting and networking. The morning break, lunch, afternoon break, and post-symposium social offered a chance for participants to talk and share amidst a plethora of food. My motto is: better too much than not enough. Although from my perspective, the food seemed just right! Ask any attendee about the granola bars.

After the sessions were finished and the door prizes were awarded (door prizes donated by the U of S Campus Computer Store, U of S Bookstore, University Library, and McNally Robinson Booksellers) symposium-goers retired to the University Club for a restorative beverage and even more food. It was an excellent wind-down to a wonderful day.

I’ve got a few thank yous to extend, so here we go. Thank you to:

  • Our 54 symposium attendees from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and the US. It was wonderful to meet and see you all!
  • Keynote Margy MacMillan and all of our session presenters: fabulous job!
  • C-EBLIP Fall Symposium Planning Committee who joined me in constructing this caper: Carolyn Pytlyk, Charlene Sorensen, and Rachel Sarjeant-Jenkins
  • Session Facilitators: Carolyn Pytlyk, DeDe Dawson, Charlene Sorensen, Shannon Lucky
  • Registration and Set-up: Carisa Polischuk and Crystal Hampson
  • Photographer: David Bindle
  • Also to Finn’s Irish Pub, where we held the CARL LRI social on the evening of Oct. 14, Marquis Culinary Services, eMAP, FMD, Dean Vicki Williamson and the University Library Dean’s Office, C-EBLIP Members, and the University Club. (I hope I haven’t missed anyone!)

You can access the Storify of the day’s tweets here: https://storify.com/VirginiaPrimary/c-eblip-fall-symposium-librarians-as-researchers

Let’s do it again next year, okay?

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.

Perpetual Access, Perpetually Confusing? C-EBLIP Journal Club, August 25, 2014

by Charlene Sorensen
Services to Libraries, University of Saskatchewan

I’m really enjoying the C-EBLIP journal club and I’ve been trying to figure out why since I’ve never been one for book clubs. It certainly helps that journal articles are short but that isn’t the whole reason. I find all areas of librarianship so interesting, but I don’t have enough time to explore areas outside of my own (technical services and collections). So the exposure to others’ article selections, combined with the small time commitment to read the articles and attend the meetings, is very exciting to me.

The third meeting of the C-EBLIP Journal Club was held on August 25, 2014 to discuss this journal article of my choosing:

Bulock, Chris. “Tracking Perpetual Access: A Survey of Librarian Practices.” Serials Review 40, no. 2 (2014): 97-104
http://doi.org/10.1080/00987913.2014.923369

I chose this article because it was from the area of the library literature that I typically follow but would probably be a topic unfamiliar to the journal club members. It was also relevant to a project I am involved in and it was short (do you see a theme here?). I also liked it because the research study was pretty straightforward and was an example of what any one of us might undertake.

The author undertook a survey that asked librarians about their practices with respect to tracking perpetual access to e-journals, e-books, and multimedia resources. That is, even if perpetual access is contained with a license agreement, the perpetual access entitlements must then be tracked and holdings must be adjusted if changes occur. The author concludes that librarians seem committed to securing the perpetual access rights, but they were less dedicated to maintaining the access as evidenced by the fact that a great many weren’t actually tracking the access.

The conversation started out innocently enough. We identified a couple of inconsistencies in the paper and yearned for better definitions of some of the concepts. But the discussion took off from there and we wondered if the advent of electronic resources has changed our perspective on long-term access of any online resource. Libraries struggle with electronic resources every step of the way, from selection and acquisition, to description and discovery, right through to current and long-term access. We are so very good at managing these processes for print materials, but are nowhere near having the same control over e-resources. BUT maybe we just can’t have the same ‘control’ over these materials and should dial back our expectations. For example, I have a shoebox of letters I received throughout my life up until 1996, when email came along and now correspondence with friends and family is regularly deleted. Many of us have photos on our phones that will be deleted accidentally or on purpose. Maybe history matters less now that it’s harder to preserve?

But are libraries supposed to stand up to these difficulties and be responsible for the long-term access to its resources for the benefit of the university community? The author of this paper isn’t very hopeful and concludes:

“It remains to be seen whether librarians will develop the tools necessary to bring their practices into alignment with their ideals, or whether the goal of perpetual access will simply fall by the wayside” (p. 103).

I personally believe that libraries do have the responsibility to ensure perpetual access, though the ideal may be different from that of print materials. I look forward to further discussions on this topic throughout the library.

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.