DREaM Conference Review 9th July, 2012
As a first year Ph.D. student at Loughborough University, I was excited about joining the DREaM network; as well as learning some new approaches to research, I was looking forward to hearing about what other research is going on within the sector, since Ph.D. can be focused and sometimes isolating. My area is school libraries, and my only reservations about attending this conference was the potential for a lack of transferable information from the planned sessions and my small area of LIS research. It was actually inspiring how much overlap there was into my sector, and I got a great deal out of every session and had many interesting conversations with delegates from other disciplines.
Professor Hazel Hall opened by revisiting the first 4 DREaM Project conferences of the project and how they fit into the LIS Research coalition. The main objective has been to develop a UK-wide network of LIS researchers who can build an evidence base to demonstrate the value and impact of LIS. Now more than ever, practitioners and researchers need to illustrate the value and impact of the services they offer. Collaboration in research is the key to keeping the DREaM alive, which is fairly true within our profession as a general rule. The more stakeholders we include and inform, the more value they will see in the evidence we provide them.
The opening keynote speech by Carol Tenopir illustrated a model for us to demonstrate the value of our services through the Lib-Value project, which aims to collect tested methods and instruments to measure multiple values for multiple stakeholders. Though Dr Tenopir’s work in this project is focused on academic institutions, I was inspired by her research; school libraries, which are so undervalued in this country need tried and tested ways to prove that they contribute to the schools that they service. School librarians do tend to stick to implicit values like borrower statistics and footfall, but there needs to be more emphasis placed on researching the impact made on student academic achievement.
The One Minute Madness presentations gave the delegates an opportunity to present their own research or potential ideas in a short and interesting way. Additionally, it sparked some lively discussions during networking times throughout the day and fostered a real sense of community, even across sectors.
Dr Louise Cooke, Department of Information Science, Loughborough University outlined her research into the DREaM cadre using social networking analysis. This showed the progression of how participants of the project conferences became a more connected network as they participated in this conference. It was an illustration of how well a research community can work when they are given opportunities to share ideas and encouraged to gather evidence to disseminate to the wider public. Dr Cooke’s work demonstrates the value of networking as well as the impact that the DREaM Project had on the core participants.
The Panel Discussion highlighted the importance of collaboration between researchers and practitioners and that more research will help to make budget decisions based on evidence. There was a concern about the lack of value that management tends to regard research, but all practitioners were encouraged to get management on board as much as possible. There was also a concern expressed that public libraries are underrepresented in the research community; it is important for them to provide evidence with the growing cuts to that sector.
Congratulations to the Northwest Clinical Librarian Systematic Review and Evaluation Group, who were presented with the Library and Information Practitioner Researcher Excellence award by our closing presenter, Dr Ben Goldacre.
It was a good thing that Dr Charles Oppenheim introduced Dr Ben Goldacre; I didn’t have any idea who he was, but I am now anxious to read his work! His talk on Research, evidence bases, decision making and policy was a fascinating look at pharmaceutical research and how it is presented; it was an interesting revelation of the bias that exists with publishers of academic research. Dr Goldacre wants all information about trials and research to be put into a website-Alltrials-which he wants managed by an information professional, so people keen to volunteer would likely be welcomed warmly.
Overall, the conference was really worthwhile; just meeting other people and hearing about the challenges and successes of their research was stimulating, which was the underlying theme of this conference.