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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Recording: Research capacity building for professional practice

By Suzana Sukovic

Earlier this week (Wednesday, 22 February) LARK hosted a webinar entitled Research capacity building for professional practice. It was announced here and here. This webinar was a milestone for LARK as this was the first time we targeted different professional groups. For me, it was a way to put my different worlds together. I am delighted to say "no collision", just good interprofessional learning.

I wish to thank the presenters and everyone who came to the webinar and contributed questions and comments. Many thanks to Alycia Bailey who looked after technology while I facilitated the meeting.

The whole webinar lasted just a bit over an hour. Recordings below are slightly shorter as discussions about technology and short periods of silence were cut.

Slides and a chat transcript are available from this link.

From experienced health clinician to novice researcher

Dr Kerith Duncanson

From library practitioner to library researcher: making research part of your professional practice 

Edward Luca

A blog post about the project presented in Edward's talk and a link to an academic article are available from this LARK blog post.


Unlearning with Snapchat

Kate Bunker and Dr Tatum McPherson-Crowie

The full peer-reviewed paper on which this talk was based is available from the Information Online website (see here).

What you hear after my introduction is Tatum's voice. The recording of the talk finishes at 12:30 and the rest are discussions with all the participants.


Sunday, 19 February 2017

Update: Research capacity building for professional practice

By Suzana Sukovic

Our first webinar this year has shaped up into a very promising event. We now have a great line-up of presenters from health and libraries. They will consider research in professional practice from the perspective of a very successful capacity building program in health, developing research as part of daily library work and integrating research into fun and reflective practice aided by social media.

In the previous post, I announced two presenters. Now we have the whole program and UPDATED LINK.

When: Wednesday, 22 February 4-5pm AEDT (Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne)

How to join? Go to link

The presentations will be followed by discussions. 

From experienced health clinician to novice researcher

Kerith Duncanson

The NSW Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) Rural Research Capacity Building Program provides nurses, doctors and allied health professionals from across NSW to build their research skills in a two-year researcher development program. Facilitated by two clinician researchers with teaching supported by health research academics, the program is conducted through a combination of face-to-face workshops, mentor relationships and teleconferences. Candidates step through the research process from research question conception to ethics, study implementation, analysis and report in a supportive research environment and with designated research time.

From library practitioner to library researcher: making research part of your professional practice 

Edward Luca

It can be hard to start a conversation about research, particularly if you’ve never done it before or there’s no precedent at your workplace for such initiatives. Edward will talk about his personal journey in developing academic journal articles based on his work in libraries. In particular, he’ll discuss the value of evidence-based research in informing library practice, and why more library practitioners should become involved in this space.

Unlearning with Snapchat

Kate Bunker and Tatum McPherson-Crowie will share how we embrace risk, acknowledge failure and identify epic failures by a novel use of the social media network Snapchat to convene a reflective practitioner meshwork for capturing and sharing screenshots of experiences in the interest of reflecting on learning from unlearnings. Learning from our unlearnings, we propose a reflective, transformative, bottom-up problem-solving approach to workplace learning in the academic library context to bring about a change-ready library and information professional workforce. Resulting from our approach to an evolving workplace learning environment, colleagues have reported increased confidence in their use and application of emerging technologies for personal and professional purposes, motivation to return to formal tertiary study, benefits of multiple modes of mentoring, skills refresher opportunities, and the unifying affect of and effect on library staff as they up-skill and multi-skill together.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Research capacity building for professional practice
By Suzana Sukovic

LARK's first event this year will be an opportunity for some interprofessional learning. In this webinar, our guests will share experiences from health and libraries about different approaches to research capacity building for practice.

Dr Kerith Duncanson will talk about a successful program offered to health professionals in rural and remote areas of New South Wales. The program supports participants to become independent practitioner-researchers. Librarian Edward Luca will reflect on his learning journey during the process of conducting a practice-based research project. Their talks will be followed by discussions and opportunities to share experiences about building research capacity for professional practice.

When: Wednesday, 22 February 4-5pm AEDT (Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne)
How to join? Go to this link to join the webinar 

Rural Research Capacity Building graduates 2015 (Kerith Duncanson - the first left)
From experienced health clinician to novice researcher
Dr Kerith Duncanson

The NSW Health Education and Training Institute's (HETI) Rural Research Capacity Building Program provides nurses, doctors and allied health professionals from across NSW with opportunity to build their research skills in a two-year researcher development program. Facilitated by two clinician researchers with teaching supported by health research academics, the program is conducted through a combination of face-to-face workshops, mentor relationships and teleconferences. Candidates step through the research process from research question conception to ethics, study implementation, analysis and report in a supportive research environment and with designated research time.

Dr Kerith Duncanson (BSc, Grad Dip N&D, PhD, APD) is  a Lecturer and Course Coordinator at the University of Newcastle and Rural Research Project Officer for NSW Health. In her diverse career Kerith has worked for 25 years across the public and private sectors in nutrition and dietetics, which led to an interest in child nutrition research and subsequent participation in the 2008 Rural Research Capacity Building Program. Kerith completed her PhD in 2014, and is now pursuing further research in the field of gastroenterology, while managing a novice researcher development program within NSW Health.

Kerith has twelve peer-reviewed publications and has presented her work on child nutrition and functional gastrointestinal nutrition nationally and internationally. She was the 2008 prize winner for best report in the Rural Research Capacity Building Program, and a finalist in the 2011 and 2014 University of Newcastle 3 minute thesis competitions.

From library practitioner to library researcher: making research part of your professional practice
Edward Luca

It can be hard to start a conversation about research, particularly if you’ve never done it before or there’s no precedent at your workplace for such initiatives. Edward will talk about his personal journey in writing academic journal articles based on his work in libraries. In particular, he’ll discuss the value of evidence-based research in informing library practice, and why more library practitioners should become involved in this space.

Edward is an Academic Liaison Librarian at the University of Sydney. @edwardluca

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Libraries: Institutions or assemblages?

By Katherine Howard

Gerolami, N. (2015) The library assemblage: creative institutions in an information society.  Journal of Documentation, 71(1), pp. 165-174. doi 10.1108/JD-09-2013-0120

“Institution or assembl…. What?!”
Assemblage. Or, more specifically, the concept of assemblage as a theoretical foundation in which to view the library as a tool for social justice.

In this conceptual paper, Natasha Gerolami introduces us to Deleuze and Guattari’s assemblage theory, which she uses to “develop a theory of the institution that highlights the library’s potential to resist forces of domination” (p. 165).  While that may seem a little melodramatic for this day and age, Gerolami points to moments in time where libraries have attempted to constrain individuals – the notion of class at the end of the nineteenth century, for example.  She quotes William Kite (1877) in stating that “working class men and women would remain “content with their lowly but honest occupations”” (Kite, p. 278 as cited in Gerolami, p. 170), so long as the library was stocked with literature that was appropriate for their class.  If working class individuals started thinking about new possibilities for themselves, they may very well “disrupt the status quo” (Gerolami, p. 170).

Before looking at the application of assemblage theory, Gerolami first looks at the concept of an institution, and how, through a social contract theory lens, they are seen as suppressive or oppressive.  Libraries as institutions are not exempt from this, as history (and quite likely recent events) has shown us.  Social contract theory portrays society in a negative light; the aim of the ‘contract’ is to suppress the base instincts of society. Libraries perpetuated this view through the provision of “good literature” – that somehow immoral behaviour and society’s ills would be corrected if society were only exposed to the good stuff.  

Gerolami then turns to Deleuze’s theory of institutions as an alternative to social contract theory.  Deleuze is all-encompassing in his conceptual understanding of ‘institution’:  social institutions such as marriage, and government institutions such as schools, hospitals and prisons are included.  In contrast to social contract theory that sees society negatively, Deleuze sees the potential to “conceive of institutions in a positive and inventive manner …” (Gerolami, p. 167).  In theory of institutions terms, the library as an institution “is best understood as a productive space […and …] a creative rather than repressive force [with the potential] to produce new social networks” (p. 168).

Finally, the use of assemblage theory is as a way to ground library services as tools for advocacy discussed.  In short, assemblage theory states that “different components of the assemblage [i.e. the library] are not determined or defined by the whole assemblage of which they are a part.  Parts can […] be detached and removed […] and connected to another one [i.e. another assemblage].  Furthermore, the assemblage is more than merely the sum of its parts” (p. 168).  What this means in practice is that the library (as an institution) “could be assembled with other institutions, forces or people (p. 169).

While the article is perhaps not the easiest to read, Gerolami peppers it with analogies, which helps to make it more realistic rather than merely conceptual.  She questions the continued use of potentially out-dated concepts (e.g. evaluation methods used in collection development), and uses the theoretical concepts discussed to encourage the use of “old concepts in new ways” (p. 170), 

This is pre-print version of the article published in Incite, Jan/Feb 2017

Image: Don Urban, Orrery Steam Punk

Dr Katherine Howard, AALIA 
Lecturer, Information Management, School of Business IT & Logistics | RMIT, Melbourne 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

LARK in 2017

By Suzana Sukovic

Now that New Year resolutions and plans are on the fast track to reality, it is time to tell everyone what LARK has on its collective mind for this, still fresh and promising year. On 30 November last year, a group of LARK’s faithful and some new people celebrated another successful year and made plans for this one, but we waited for your full attention to tell you what we have in store for LARK. 

This year LARK will become 5 years old. In the life of a small, predominantly online group, without a stable institutional home and a big following, this is quite an achievement. On the other hand, research has never been and probably never will be a mass endeavour. In our meeting at the end of last year, we decided we are happy to keep it that way. After all, LARK has thrived this long thanks to the efforts of a small group of committed people. With an online presence and global community, small is a relative thing. Last month’s LARK blog had 7561 views. That is in the month when only one post was published and everyone was frantically busy with end of year work and celebrations. LARK’s face-to-face gatherings easily fit around a cafĂ© or large dining table, but many people across the globe take part in our online activities.

Connections are certainly spreading in Australia. Our exciting news is that this year we will start a LARK chapter in South Australia. Liz Walkley Hall, who has led a research group at the Flinders University Library, will organise LARK face-to-face events in Adelaide and participate in shaping LARK’s online events. We plan to keep the collective spirit by organising simultaneous face-to-face events in Sydney and Adelaide.

LARK will keep the tradition of offering four events a year. A mix of online and face-to-face events worked well last year so we will do the same in 2017.
Week 20 February: Our first meeting will be online. In this meeting we will connect with health professionals to discuss shared interests and learn from each other. Our guests are experienced researchers in rural and remote NSW. It will be an excellent opportunity for professionals from all over Australia, particularly, rural and remote areas, to connect.
Beginning of May: We will kick-start the South Australian LARK chapter by organising simultaneous face-to-face meetings in Adelaide and Sydney.
Week 20 September: Our fifth anniversary will be celebrated with the most ambitious event of the year. Watch this space!
Late November or early December: as always, time to celebrate and network.
#EBLIPRG (Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Reading Group) on Twitter is officially a separate initiative. In reality, with Liz and me involved with both LARK and #EBLIPG, the separation line is pretty blurry. This year #EBLIPRG will meet every second month on the last Thursday of a month. 
26 January: The first #EBLIPRG meeting this year.

I hope you are thinking that you would like to get involved. It would be a great way to kick-start your research project or connect with like-minded people. If you aren’t working in libraries and are thinking whether it is the right group for you, I can assure you that the “library” in “LARK” is just for the sake of a good acronym. People who come to our gatherings are from the broad library and information field. Over the years, we had quite a few teachers who easily found common topics with library and information professionals and academics.

How to connect?
Come to our online and face-to-face events. Everyone is welcome.
Volunteer to present or help out with the organisation of events. LARK events are attended by friendly people. 
Write a blog post and send it to lark.kollektive(at) I read this email a few times a week and will get back to you quickly. Any suggestions can be sent to this email too.
Send research and EBP news to the mailing list (see left hand side of this page for details).
Like us on Facebook.
Tell your colleagues about LARK and our events. Even better, join us together.

Hope to get in touch online or in face-to-face meetings!

Dr Suzana Sukovic, librarian with a meandering career, is now Executive Director, Educational Research and Evidence Based Practice at HETI (Health Education and Training Institute). She is ready for some inspiring interprofessional learning this year.
Twitter @suzanasukovic

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Part 4: Academic city of villages

By Suzana Sukovic

At a time when information spurts from everywhere, numerous voices demand to be heard and traditional authorities are under scrutiny, academia occupies challenging and contested space. Particularly indicative of wider changes in the information and knowledge field are humanistic disciplines. They epitomize academic traditions in which historical resources and dialogues with the past are an essential part of academic work. Scholarship in the humanities can also act as a touchstone for and a commentary on the present.

I would like to propose that the way in which humanists negotiate the fast changing information world is based on the model I call the ‘academic city of villages’. Academics, especially in the developed countries, live in an information metropolis in which information is available in abundance and wide variety. However, academics’ everyday life is defined by norms and traditions of their disciplines which dictate the rules of their academic worlds. ‘City of villages’, a metaphor promoted by town planners of cities such as San Diego, Los Angeles, Dublin and Sydney, is used to present some of the dynamics of living in disciplinary ‘small worlds’ or ‘villages’ within an information metropolis. This proposition is based on my study of roles of electronic texts in the humanities and, later, research into transliteracy.

Small information worlds and a ‘life in the round’

Women who eat dirt for its perceived benefits, prisoners, janitors and retired women are people who live in impoverished information worlds, yet employ complex information practices. This insight arose from the work of Elfreda Chatman who developed an information theory of a ‘small world’ and a ‘life in the round’, showing how groups influence and determine information behaviour. Chatman (2000, p. 3) described the concept of a small world as ‘a world in which everyday happenings occur with some degree of predictability’. ‘A small world is also defined by natural philosophy and everyday knowledge’ (Chatman, 1999, 210). A ‘life in the round’ is a public form of life, ‘a “taken-for-granted,” “business-as-usual” style of being’ (Chatman, 1999, p. 207). Chatman showed that powerful social rules determine conditions and ways in which information is sought, what acceptable information is and what appropriate uses of information are. Individuals usually conform or keep socially unacceptable practices private.

Saying that the information behaviour of academics follow some similar patterns to those of information impoverished groups sounds far-fetched. However, findings emerging from my study of research practices of academics in the humanities show similarities, which are not obvious at face value.

Social types are central to the normative behaviour of a social group. ‘Legitimised others’ in Chatman’s theory are comparable with academic ‘big guns’ who need to be convinced that a piece of research can and should enter academic circle. A historian who studies contemporary religions, such as Jediism, Heathenism and beliefs in extraterrestrial life, many with a strong online presence, described ‘big guns’ in the following way:
… the big guns have grown up in a different kind of scholarship and they’re the ones who edit the journals and who run the big publishing houses. [It is] important that you convince them that you really can do real scholarship… It’s a kind of professional accreditation problem that people who work in really kind of out there fields are stuck with. (Participant 5/2)
Academic peers are ‘insiders’, people who are in command of norms and who judge what is trivial or useless: ‘They are the quintessential frame of reference for observing and controlling not only behavior, but also the information flow into a social world’ (Chatman, 1999, p. 212). When academics in my study talked about ‘students’, ‘young generation’, ‘traditional historians’, ‘big guns’ and ‘people who work in out-there fields’, they described academic social types that play a part in shaping information processes.

Secrecy and self-protective behaviours are part of living in a small world. Self-protective behaviour is apparent in situations when the need for information is recognised as potentially helpful, but is ignored, often because of the desire to ‘appear normal’ (Chatman, 2000, p. 7).  Scholars choose to make their information behaviours, such as the use of online sources, public or keep them private in relation to the norms, worldviews and possible reactions of their peers who have roles of ‘insiders’ and ‘legitimised others’. The dismissive attitude of peers to the use of electronic resources is evident in scholars’ public discourse, summarised in ‘all that crap from the net’ as a conversation topic as described by one of the study participants. This discourse observed in some academic circles is quite likely to make an individual researcher reluctant to ask questions that would reveal the extent of her or his own use, which may be seen as unscholarly or unauthoritative. The majority of study participants talked about an area where information about the use of electronic resources and digital methods was needed, but that information had not been sought. The lack of discussion about uncertainties related to the use of electronic resources and the unexpressed need for training are signs of an impoverished life-world. It does not relate to an absolute amount of information that has been shared, but rather to an undisclosed information need.

Living in a city of villages

Academic disciplines define the norms and practices accepted by a disciplinary community and set boundaries of academic small worlds. However, disciplines do not function as isolated environments. It is increasingly common that scholars work in interdisciplinary fields, and belong to different disciplinary communities, negotiating their different cultures, traditions and expectations. Even if they remain within the boundaries of a single discipline, they live in a dynamic information environment populated by international scholars. This vibrant environment can be seen as an information metropolis. At the same time, academics follow the rules of their immediate disciplinary communities, which form their small worlds.

How do scholars negotiate potentially contradictory demands? They usually have a primary discipline, but they seek information in other disciplines if that is the requirement of their projects. Boundary-crossing usually happens according to the rules of the primary discipline. In some cases, it means following traditional trails of academic authority. For example, a literary scholar in the study worked in a well-defined discipline where she has been a recognised expert. A sense of authority is based on knowing sources very well. However, to satisfy the requirements of a particular project, she had to leave the established information paths and seek information in neighbouring fields. The process happened according to the dominant academic tradition by following the advice of a colleague in the other field. In other words, the researcher does not normally leave her village in search of information, but when she has to do that, it happens according to the rules of following well-established academic expertise.

For other scholars, negotiation of different disciplinary rules and project demands require trade-offs. When a historian decided to write a book aiming to open a challenging dialogue with traditional scholars, he excluded references to all sources that he felt would not be acceptable to these colleagues. However, he introduced a style of writing promoted by interactions with electronic sources, which ‘pushed the edges’ of traditional scholarship.

Academics who visit blogs, tourist web sites and forums about extraterrestrials leave an academic neighbourhood to roam around the city and listen to stories in dark alleys and under bridges. Stories from the underbelly of the city are often socially unacceptable in established disciplinary clubs in university quarters. Scholars who frequent the clubs, but cross the boundaries of academia, often learn from the ‘dark stories’ and consider how to present them according to accepted disciplinary conventions. In non-traditional fields within traditional disciplines, it means more or less successful ‘dressing up’ of research, which Participant 5/2 described as a way of using disciplinary theories and citations to make unconventional research acceptable to the mainstream discipline. In more traditional literary and historical studies, it means taking unaccepted sources into account without referring to them openly.

Scholars who do cross boundaries against the rules of their discipline, would do so because information is perceived as critical or there is a perception that a ‘life in the round’ is no longer functioning. Rapid changes in academia, inconsistent systems of promotions and evaluation of scholarly work, as well as conflicting expectations, indicate that academic life is functioning with a number of difficulties. Participant 15/1 talked about experimenting ‘without an umpire’ in mind in the environment in which some peers are interested in experimental work with the multiplicity of resources while others do not think that it meets scholarly standards. According to this participant, scholars who work in new fields start within a traditional discipline and gradually split away when another community takes shape.

In a metropolis, news travel fast and it is impossible to maintain local customs untouched, but that does not negate the existence and influence of small villages. The balance between the preservation of a village life and the interaction with the metropolis — sometimes threatening, sometimes alluring – is in flux even in the most sheltered villages.

It may be that other professional worlds work in a similar way, but more research is needed to establish the evidence. However, an understanding of social processes in academia helps us to enhance our understanding of knowledge processes and wider societal changes. It helps us also to provide information and professional development services tailored with deeper understanding of our clients’ information worlds.

CHATMAN, E. A. 1999. A theory of life in the round. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50, 207-217.

CHATMAN, E. A. 2000. Framing social life in theory and research. The New Review of Information Behaviour Research, 1, 3-17.

Previous parts in this series are available from LARK blog:

They are also availabe from SciTech Connect.

This article was first published by SciTech Connect where the following information was provided:
"Transliteracy in Complex Information Environments was published in November. If you would like to pre-order a copy, please visit the Elsevier Store.  Apply discount code STC215 at checkout for 30% off the list price and free global shipping."
The book is available in print and electronic format.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Part 3: Transliteracy palettes: developing capabilities for “moving across”

By Suzana Sukovic

A definition and conceptual model of transliteracy was proposed in the previous post in this series titled What exactly is transliteracy? (also LARK post What is transliteracy?). In short, transliteracy was described as a fluidity of movement across a range of technologies, media and contexts. The conceptual model of transliteracy was presented as an overarching concept encompassing information and ICT capabilities, communication and collaboration, and creativity and critical thinking. All these capabilities are already recognised as crucial for successful living in contemporary society. The key question concerns their co-ordinated development to enable skill and knowledge transfer in an unknown future.

A model of transliteracy palettes (above) is proposed as a tool to aid the development of transliteracy in teaching and learning. Transliteracy palettes describe what people have at their disposal to shape their transliterate practice and understanding. Two main parts of the transliteracy palettes consist of an information palette and a form palette. In order to develop the ability to move across a range of contexts, media and technologies, it is essential to practice “mixing and matching” palettes in novel combinations.

Information palette

Information and ICT capabilities have been identified as a critical part of transliteracy. These capabilities are also integrated in the well-established information literacy framework. The understanding of the information process presented in the information palette draws upon Foster’s comparison of the information process with an artist’s palette on which activities remain available during information-seeking (Foster, 2004). 

The titles of the components on the information palette capture essential information qualities and practices, especially in relation to transliteracy.
DEFINE question, information needed and main sources relates to the conscious understanding, which takes a person in a particular direction in the information process. It is based on identifying an information need. 
FIND AND ACCESS sources and relevant information captures the search process in which relevant information may be found in a range of sources. Finding the sources and relevant information is a part of the process, but so is an ability to access them. Access has been clearly identified here as it relates to the findings of my transliteracy study pointing to the significance of access conditions and understanding of social contexts surrounding information access.
EVALUATE-SELECT refers to evaluation as a well-recognised aspect of the process, but it also brings to the fore selection. Valuable information may or may not be selected for a number of reasons, which may be related to considerations other than the quality of information. Selection decisions need to be a distinct part of a holistic understanding of the process and conscious information strategy. 
MANAGE is about organising information based on content, technical and any other relevant characteristics. The word 'manage' has been chosen instead of 'organise' as it better captures potential complexity of working with information.
CREATE-PRESENT-ACT is about various forms of information use to create new information, understanding and knowledge; combine existing information for presentation purposes; and the use of information to inform decisions and action.
REFLECT is part of the process in which individuals and groups reflect on the process, ethics, norms and personal meanings. Reflection comes at the beginning of the process as people think and realise an information need, throughout the process as they decide about the next step, and at the end of the process to evaluate and understand recent experience. In educational contexts, it is important to embed reflection as a formal part of the process.
HOLISTIC UNDERSTANDING of the process ¬is indicated by the idea of the palette rather than individual colours. It emphasises the importance of understanding the information process and its components as a whole.

Form palette 

This palette captures ‘forms’ that shape interactions with information. 
EXPERIENCE is about opportunities to act, sense and think through a range of different experiences such as writing a story, performing, reading and working visually.
MEDIA relates to the use of different media formats (for example, book, video, database).
COMMUNICATION is about using different forms of communication through different channels in a variety of genres, languages and for different audiences.
COLLABORATION is about working with others formally and informally face-to-face, online and in blended environments. 
CITIZENSHIP refers to understanding of a range of social issues, which determine successful participation in information environments. It includes legal, normative, cultural and ethical issues. Copyright, plagiarism and appropriate online behaviour as they are commonly taught in educational settings are part of this 'form'.

The transliteracy palette consists of both information and form palettes, and an ability to mix them in many different combinations. Learning to apply different colours to many different forms in a range of different situations is a way to develop transliteracy. 

FOSTER, A. 2004. A nonlinear model of information-seeking behavior. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 55, 228-237.

These explanations of the transliteracy palette are taken from the chapter Transliteracy in practice in the book Transliteracy in complex information environments. The chapter is available for free download, providing further discussions about implementation transliteracy in the practice of teaching and learning.

Previous posts are available from Elsevier SciTech Connect and LARK blog:
Part 1. Transliteracy: the art and craft of moving across 
Part 2. What is transliteracy? 

This article was first published by SciTech Connect