Institute for Research design in Librarianship
IMLS Grant Proposal
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) seeks funding from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Continuing Education program to create a learning opportunity and a support system for 63 academic and research librarians who want to improve their research skills and increase their research output. During the proposed three-year grant period (June 2013 to May 2016), LMU’s William H. Hannon Library, partnering with the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC), will provide novice academic and research librarian researchers with instruction in research methods and a full year of support to complete a project.
Our goal is to increase the number of academic librarians with specific skills in conducting and disseminating the results of research. In order to accomplish this goal, the library will host a nine-day Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) in the summer, supplemented with pre-institute learning activities and ongoing support for the year following the institute to help participants conduct their research and share their findings. Two experienced social sciences researchers/instructors, in collaboration with a series of visiting library faculty, will teach the librarian scholars the fundamentals of research design and foster a collegial atmosphere in which academic librarians have the opportunity to complete a research proposal. After completing an intensive series of in-class exercises and hands-on writing sessions, institute scholars will leave ready to conduct a research study at their home libraries. Once the scholars have returned to their home institutions, the institute will provide them with ongoing support to aid them as they conduct their research and prepare to share their research findings with professional and scholarly communities. They will establish a personal learning network, aimed at providing ongoing support even after their year of participation as an institute scholar ends, providing them with the mentoring and motivation they need to be successful researchers and encourage other information professionals to engage in research. The purpose of the project is to create a cost-effective, sustainable model for academic librarians to become skilled researchers, capable of mentoring and collaborating with one another in their investigative work.
For the purpose of this project we are defining research broadly to include theoretical research, designed to advance knowledge in the field of library and information science, and operations research, designed to inform decision making (often called evidence-based management). The project directors have used the following working definition of research; it was included on the survey instrument that serves as the basis for our needs assessment:
“The process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems/questions/hypotheses through the planned and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data: it may be applied or theoretical in nature and use quantitative or qualitative methods. (This definition does not include library research that is limited to activities such as compiling bibliographies and searching catalogs.)”
Loyola Marymount University is an excellent host for this type of training opportunity. We have an expert staff of assessment and evaluation professionals who will work with the librarians to ensure that we are able to meet our project goals and objectives. Several LMU librarians are experienced researchers who will share their expertise with participants. Our university is located ten minutes from Los Angeles International Airport and offers a full array of cost-effective conference support, both in the William H. Hannon Library and in other locations on campus.
We have also assembled a diverse advisory board of experienced academic librarian researchers to help shape the institute curriculum, provide mentorship, and address issues of sustainability. San José State University’s ALA-accredited library school will be actively involved by providing instructors and input regarding various models for sustainability. There are several models, including having a library school and/or consortium in partnership with an academic institution offer the institute on a cost-recovery basis once grant funding has ended.
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) seeks funding from the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Continuing Education program for a project to create a learning opportunity and support system for academic and research librarians who want to improve their research skills and increase their research output. The focus of the project is the professional development of working post-MLS/MLIS librarians. LMU will partner with the San José State University School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) and the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) for three years to provide 63 novice academic librarian researchers – 21 per year — with instruction in research design and a full year of support to complete a project. Our goal is to increase the number of academic librarians with specific skills in conducting research and disseminating the results. In order to accomplish this goal, the library will host a nine-day Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL) each summer, supplemented with pre-institute learning activities and ongoing support for the year following the institute to help participants conduct their research and share their findings. Our model for the institute is inspired by a series of NSF-funded Short Courses in Research Methods (SCRM) designed for practicing anthropologists (Bernard, H. R., 2008). Participants will establish a personal learning network, aimed at providing ongoing support beyond their year as an institute scholar, offering them the mentoring and motivation they need to be successful researchers, providing benefits to both themselves and to their institutions. The project’s outcome will be a cost-effective, sustainable model for academic and research librarians to become skilled researchers, capable of mentoring and collaborating with one another.
Statement of Need
This project builds on more than two decades of scholarship surrounding the importance of academic librarian research and the challenges facing librarians who want and/or need to conduct research. For the purpose of this project we are defining research broadly to include theoretical research, designed to advance knowledge in the field of library and information science, often conducted by “academic researchers,” and operations research, designed to inform decision making, often conducted by “practitioner-researchers” (Hildreth & Aytac, 2007). The project directors have used the following working definition of research; it was included on the survey instrument that serves as the basis for our needs assessment:
“The process of arriving at dependable solutions to problems/questions/hypotheses through the planned and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data: it may be applied or theoretical in nature and use quantitative or qualitative methods. (This definition does not include library research that is limited to activities such as compiling bibliographies and searching catalogs)” (Powell, Baker & Mika, 2002).
Academic and research librarians and their institutions derive well-established benefits from librarians conducting research: progress toward gaining promotion, tenure, and higher salaries; advancement in the profession and recognition; receptivity to change; increased skill in managing complex library operations through systematic study; and better service to and empathy with faculty researchers (Black & Leysen, 1994; Montanelli & Stenstrom, 1986). However, the reasons why a librarian may not conduct research can be attributed to a variety of causes, many of which have been tested in the literature: reported lack of time to complete a research project, unfamiliarity with the research process, lack of support for research (both moral and monetary), lack of access to research, lack of confidence, discouraging jargon, inadequate education in research methods, and lack of motivation (Koufogiannakis & Crumley, 2006, 333; Powell, Baker, & Mika, 2002, 50; McNicol & Nankivell, 2003).
In an effort to address the most significant issues noted as obstacles, this institute is designed to bring together a diverse group of academic and research librarians who are motivated and enthusiastic about conducting research but need additional training and/or other support to perform the steps successfully. The institute is designed around the components of the research process, with special focus given to areas that our 2010 national survey of academic librarians (See section, Related Research and Similar Projects) identified as the most troublesome; the co-investigators on this project conducted the survey to provide a snapshot of the current state of academic librarian confidence in conducting research. During the nine-day institute held annually in May, participants will receive expert instruction on research design and small-group and one-on-one assistance in writing and/or revising their own draft research proposal. In the following academic year, participants will receive ongoing support in conducting their research and preparing the results for dissemination. The institute curriculum will be informed by the results of the survey and collaboratively developed by the co-instructors, with input from advisors. SCELC, comprised of 107 academic and research libraries in California, Texas and Nevada, will also sponsor a Research Day in conjunction with their annual Colloquium and Vendor Day held on the Loyola Marymount campus during Spring Break, in order to introduce and explain the goals of the institute and gather input through discussions and focus groups. Issues related to format of the institute, pre-institute preparation, the balance between quantitative and qualitative methods and more will be explored on Research Day.
The institute will assist librarians to develop the skills necessary to complete a research project of their design, as well as assist participants in constructing a personal network of possible collaborators for future research projects. Each year’s 21 participants will learn from institute faculty and one another, writing or improving their project proposals during the nine days. Participants will be expected to conduct their studies during the coming academic year and share their experiences with the project co-investigators. Over the course of the project, scholars from Years 1 and 2 will be incorporated into the community of researchers, encouraged and supported in providing mentorship to one another and to advise the institute team on improving the experience for subsequent cohorts. All 63 participants will be included in the summative evaluation of the institute and its attendant activities in order to make final recommendations on a sustainable model for the future.
We plan to gather and disseminate data and summaries throughout the grant years to assist in the future development of the institute or others like it. A focus of our project will be exploring various options to sustain the institute after IMLS funding ends. Our partners and project advisors will be a key part of our efforts to identify a business model that is sustainable.
Related Research and Similar Projects
The reasons for academic and librarians to conduct research are varied and well-argued: “It can promote strong relationships with teaching faculty, enhance beneficial comprehension of the research process, and facilitate concrete understanding of the access and service needs of the library clientele” (Black & Leysen, 1994, 230);“[c]onducting research can contribute to career advancement for librarians, especially academic librarians on tenure track” (Powell, Baker, & Mika, 2002, 49); “[l]ooking analytically at librarianship through research fosters growth, curiosity, awareness and promotes new learning” (Crumley & Koufogiannakis, 2002, 62); and “[e]ffective interaction between research and practice will produce a strong theoretical framework within which a practitioner community can develop and thrive,” (Haddow & Klobas, 2004, 30) to cite only four examples. Accreditation bodies require that academic institutions engage in evidence-based decision making. Thus, it has become more important for libraries to study their own operations in a systematic and reliable manner.
Despite the benefits of doing research for both librarians and their institutions, many librarians do not conduct research or disseminate the results of their research; the reasons for this are as diverse as our population. One major cause, uneven training in research design, has been noted in numerous studies. Research training at the master’s level is especially varied, leading to an imbalanced skill set among librarians. In 1992 Smith and Adams commented that, “Stephenson reported that 69 percent of the basic research courses were required courses for M.L.S. students. Three years later, our survey shows that the percentage has dropped to 55 percent” (Smith & Adams, 1992, 75). In 2001 O’Connor and Park noted, “Only half of the 24 top-rated programs required MLS students to take research methods” (O’Connor & Park, 2001, 105).
The non-uniformity of training in the practical aspects of how to conduct research is pronounced once master’s-level students in information and library science complete their degree training and enter the professional field. Many academic and research librarians become practitioner-researchers, defined as professionals who “approach projects and problems in way that yield (1) solutions, (2) an enlarged understanding of their actual field of work—their practice—, and (3) improvements in practice” (Watson-Boone, 2000, 85). To retrain oneself (or first-time training) on how to succeed in a research project requires a commitment of time few professionals have allotted in their days. Practicing academic librarians report gaps in their knowledge regarding the research process, even at institutions with demanding standards of research expectations (Schrader, Shiri, & Williamson, 2012). Librarians must develop strong research skills and continue to enhance them.
In order to understand how academic librarians describe their own research design backgrounds, rate their own confidence levels in performing the discrete tasks of a research project, and report on institutional support for research, the authors of this grant proposal designed and performed a national survey, targeting academic librarians. The survey was launched in early December 2010 via distribution lists and gathered over 900 responses. The results confirm uneven prior training in research design, varied levels of confidence in the steps of the research process, and uneven support at their institutions. Based on these findings, the authors propose the development of a training opportunity, the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL), which supports those three areas of need. The results of the survey are summarized in an article published in College & Research Libraries (Kennedy & Brancolini, 2012).
Librarians in another recent survey identified workshops as their most preferred way to acquire additional knowledge of the research process (Schrader, Shiri & Williamson, 2012, 161). However, few training opportunities have been identified that address research design in a holistic point of view. Crumley describes a 2001 conference on Evidence-Based Librarianship, and Booth notes a week long workshop on Teaching Evidence-Based Practice (Crumley & Koufogiannakis, 2002, 62; Booth & Bryce, 2003, 45). The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) offered its first Librarians Research Institute in June 2012; it offers some elements of our proposed institute, however, it is designed for experienced researchers rather than the novice (“Librarians’ Research Institute,” Canadian Association of Research Libraries website: http://carl-abrc.ca/en/research-libraries/librarians-research-institute.html). Elkin comments that “One-off, one-day courses can be seen to be of limited value, unless part of a coherent and cohesively planned framework for development” (Elkin, 1994, 22). A disadvantage of these short courses that our project will address is the lack of ongoing communication among participants after the instruction has ended. Authors Booth & Brice (2003) and Robbins (1989) noted that a weakness in their own workshop plans was a lack of post-workshop communication (Booth & Bryce, 2003; Robbins, 1989).
Librarians may have access to formal research methods courses, through face-to-face instruction in their own communities (if they live near a library school), online courses, and hybrid courses. However, these courses offer only one component of our program: instruction. Research has shown that instruction alone may not be sufficient for librarians to complete research and disseminate their results. Our program offers instruction plus four additional components: mentorship, ongoing advice and support during the time of the research project, modest financial support, and the opportunity to become part of a research community.
This model has been employed by a number of other institutes for working professionals. These institutes have proven their success and participants recognize the value of the experience. These institutes range one to two weeks in length and examples include the ACRL Immersion program for information literacy,(“Immersion Program,” Association of College and Research Libraries website: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/advocacy/infolit/professactivity/iil/immersion/programs.cfm) the Frye Leadership Institute,(http://www.fryeinstitute.org)and the Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians from Traditionally Underrepresented Groups (Minnesota Institute for Early Career Librarians from Underrepresented Groups,” University of Minnesota website: https://www.lib.umn.edu/sed/institute).
This project focuses on academic and research librarians because most are expected to conduct and disseminate the results of research, yet many are challenged by this expectation. In addition to academic librarians, we are targeting research librarians who work in special libraries, such as hospitals, research institutes, and museums; through our work with SCELC, which includes many of these libraries, we know that their librarians face similar research challenges. Our intended audience is librarians who are novice researchers, defined as those who may have conducted research but have not yet had an article published or a presentation accepted by a peer-reviewed publication or conference. Participants must have at least one research question to investigate and a brief description of the proposed study, though they may be as far along as having written a research proposal; our goal is to send each librarian home with a proposal. The research project could be institutional operations or assessment research, cited by Perkins & Slowik as increasingly important to academic library administrators; or it could be theoretical research (Perkins & Slowik, in press, 74). In writing about the academic library research agenda, James Neal emphasized the need for academic librarians to pursue research that advances knowledge at the individual, organization, professional, and national levels (Neal, 2006).
We will design a curriculum for librarians, informed by an advisory board, to learn how to construct an effective project for appropriate data gathering, analysis and reporting of results. Stephenson’s 1987 article notes that, “Commitment [to research] requires an enthusiasm, if not an actual passion” (Stephenson, 1987, 61). This institute is created to address the needs of those academic librarians that have the passion for research but do not possess the complete skill set to perform it on their own. The curriculum is designed around the steps of a typical research project and will give special focus to those areas about which academic and research librarians have identified themselves as not feeling confident.
The institute will be led by two main instructors: the lead instructor is a social scientist who specializes in conducting focused research design courses for working professionals; the co-instructor is a library school faculty member who teaches research methods. She has also worked as an academic librarian. These two individuals will lead a select cohort of scholars in a series of exercises and writing sessions to fully develop a research project over the course of nine days. Scholars will be required to bring a draft research proposal to the institute. During the course of the institute, scholars will revise and refine their proposals in collaboration with the main instructors, the librarian researcher faculty, and their institute colleagues, with the goal of having a well-constructed research project to conduct when they return to their home institutions.
The cohort will be chosen from a selective submission process, with an emphasis on enthusiasm for research and diversity from a variety of perspectives – ethnicity, age, and type and size of academic library. We are especially eager to recruit ethnically diverse librarians who are younger and may work in smaller libraries, where it may be more difficult to create a community of researchers who share their interests. This dilemma has been documented in a recent survey of librarians of color by Damasco & Hodges (2012). Requirements for participation will be clearly outlined on the institute website and application materials. We have designed a rubric to assist the project directors in selecting the scholars.
Assessment of Audience Needs
The psychological literature suggests that self-efficacy might be an important factor in encouraging academic librarians to undertake research. Bandura asserts that beliefs about self-efficacy can be developed by four main sources of influence: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and somatic and emotional states (Bandura, 1994, 71-72). We have designed the institute to provide academic librarians with both mastery experiences and social persuasion. Mastery experiences build confidence through success and provide an individual with the ability to persevere in the face of obstacles, which is especially important in performing difficult tasks. Social persuasion consists of structuring situations in which an individual receives encouragement and experiences success in working through challenges.
This project addresses four specific obstacles academic librarians may have encountered in conducting research by creating an institute that will:
- Foster an environment of collegiality and support in the research process.
- Provide instruction in areas needed to complete the research design for a project identified by an institute scholar.
- Encourage the dissemination of research through publication or presentation by outlining the process for publishing or presenting research results.
- Instill confidence in institute scholars about the research process by providing clear instruction on how to perform all of the steps in a research project.
There is strong support in the literature for librarians to pursue conducting research. An example is provided by Crumley and Koufogiannakis: “If [librarians] are encouraged to pursue research opportunities, not only will this enhance the literature base, but it will also allow librarians to conduct those studies best suited to their environment and time availability” (Crumley & Koufogiannakis, 2002, 61). The authors of this grant proposal, however, found in their survey of academic librarians that only 26 percent of the respondents believed that their LIS master’s degrees adequately prepared them to conduct original research. Stephenson (1990) finds in her survey of library schools about their research methods classes that there is “considerable variation in depth of coverage” (p. 61), if a student has even elected to take a class in methods/design. A survey conducted in November 2009 found no statistically significant relationship between taking a research methods course and a librarian’s research involvement – ranging from reading published research to conducting one’s own research and publishing it (Luo, 2011). Regardless of the quality of LIS research methods courses, there are large numbers of librarians who want and need to review or to gain the kinds of individual support that instruction alone cannot provide.
Of the academic librarians participating in the grant proposal authors’ survey, 57 percent believed that their LIS master’s degrees adequately prepared them to read and understand research and 56 percent reported regularly reading the full content of research-based articles in library and information science peer-reviewed journals. This institute and its attendant support activities will facilitate the transition of academic librarians from consumers of research to producers of research.
Other than classes in an information/library science program, there is no mechanism in place to assist librarians in gaining knowledge about how to identify a research project, articulate it clearly, and design a plan to gather and analyze data. Librarians have few resources and none that offer the combination of instruction in research design plus mentoring and a collaborative learning network. O’Connor and Park, though, suggest that there is an urgency to train librarians in research: “Our field needs to educate a large number of producers of research if we are to maintain a stable infrastructure for our research base” (O’Connor & Park, 2001, 104). This project has the potential for major national impact by increasing that number of producers of research.
Offering post-MLS/MLIS training in how to define a project and design a plan is the best solution to address this knowledge gap, because it provides relevant information at the time of need. Offering the training in a collegial community setting provides an instant network for identifying like-minded academic librarians that may become future research partners. Working collaboratively during the time of the institute also reinforces the learning goals and begins to create a culture of scholarship among academic librarians. Providing ongoing support and mentorship for the year following the institute may lead to relationships and a support network that persists long after the project has ended.
We expect to plan a curriculum that will lead to the following results for our institute scholars. By participating in the institute, our scholars will be able to:
- Competently complete the design for a research project.
- Effectively communicate the results of research through publication or presentation.
- Identify partners for future research at the librarians’ home institutions and at other libraries – perhaps with researchers from other disciplines.
We will assess the strength of the institute throughout the life of the grant, with internal evaluation planned after each institute is delivered, follow-up communication with the scholars, and by conducting a formal evaluation with the university’s Office of Assessment. We imagine early benefits like an improvement in the quality of research design, but understanding the long-term benefits will be an iterative activity, as we follow the institute scholars over time, to see how their projects are completed and what they identify as their successes. We plan to intentionally devise a communication mechanism for our scholars to continue conversing with their institute colleagues and instructors; we view personal learning networks among librarian researchers as an essential component of their success.
The long-range goal of this project is to increase the quality of the design of research projects conducted in the field of information and library science. By providing a specialized curriculum for academic librarians that will permit them to competently complete the design of a research project, learn how to effectively communicate their findings, and begin to create their own networks of research partners, we expect to produce a diverse cohort of scholars who will raise the expectations for what kinds of research can be accomplished in the field.
Through continued feedback from institute scholars, the project team will be able to clearly identify the gaps in knowledge of the academic librarians participating in the institute. This topic identification will provide feedback for future learning outcomes, reinforcing the model of sustainability. Based on initial feedback from scholars during their institute experience, the learning goals will be tailored toward addressing the most urgent information needs of scholars in order to successfully design their research. After the first wave of scholars has returned back to their home institutions, the project team will follow their progress to see if they are able to successfully launch their research projects or if there are still information gaps that can be addressed via the institute.
The project is designed to support a cohort of 21 academic librarians each year in the completion of a research project – for a total of 63 in three years. The central project activity in each of the three years of the project will be planning, offering, evaluating, and revising a nine-day Institute for Research Design in Librarianship, to be held each summer. All other activities will support the institute and the work of institute scholars throughout the academic year, as they conduct their research projects, analyze the data, interpret the results, and write reports of their findings. The initial activities of the institute are informed by the 2010 survey of academic librarians completed by the grant authors, giving attention to areas librarians identified as particular weak points in their own research processes. We have identified two lead instructors, Dr. Greg Guest and Dr. Lili Luo.
An important project activity will be recruitment of institute participants. We will begin by sending a call for applicants to all of the distribution lists where we disseminated our 2010 research confidence survey. Second, we will place advertisements or announcements soliciting applicants in journals such as College & Research Libraries, Journal of Academic Librarianship, Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice, and Journal of Academic Librarianship. Finally, we will solicit applicants via email forums such as ALA Black Caucus, ALA Asian/Pacific American Library Association, REFORMA, and other groups that attract librarians of color; our diverse Advisory Board will be crucial in effectively reaching an audience. We developed a rubric for the selection of participants, based upon factors that we believe will be important to participant success.
The Institute for Research Design in Librarianship will:
- Deliver group instruction in areas needed to complete the research design for a project identified by each institute scholar. Co-taught by practicing researchers, the institute curriculum will be informed by the results of the survey and constructed in collaboration with the co-instructors; the curriculum will be influenced by research proposals that institute scholars submit as part of the application process.
- Create a workshop environment in which institute scholars share their draft research proposals with other scholar participants, the institute instructors, and other librarian researchers. We expect that the scholars will increase their confidence levels by participating in a collegial learning atmosphere, while learning the specific steps needed to complete a research project.
- Foster an environment of collegiality and support in the research process. One possible barrier noted in the literature that may hinder a librarian from completing a research project is moral support. The institute aims to create an environment of collegiality, one in which the scholars can learn and support each other throughout the year. The team will explore a range of tools to facilitate communication between scholars, mentors, and instructors, and choose the tools that are most effective. Examples include the project website, a wiki, a blog, web conferences, and online, asynchronous, text-based discussion forums. Assistant Professor Michael Stephens from SJSU is an expert in using emerging technology to build online learning communities, and he will take a leading role in developing online forums where participants can interact. Using these communication tools, participants will keep each other updated on their progress and share draft research proposals with instructors and with each other. The instructors will provide feedback and respond to questions or concerns, facilitating discussions regarding how to overcome challenges to completing research projects.
- Encourage the dissemination of research through publication or presentation by outlining a path with the Institute scholars for written or verbal presentation of research results. As part of the application process we will gain a commitment from the scholars that they will attempt to complete their research project in the coming year and disseminate the results. During the institute the scholars will learn about the peer-review process for publications and conference presentations.
Depending on how the scholars wish to communicate, based on a list of possibilities like Blackboard, wikis, blogs, and listservs, we will develop a suite of both public and private communication mechanisms that will facilitate discussion among institute scholars before and after the institute. Their implementation will be supported by the Instructional Technology staff at LMU. The scholars will be encouraged to post drafts of their proposals and questions that they would like to discuss with the institute instructors and other participants. Throughout the academic year, participants will be asked to keep the other participants informed on their research project progress; we hope to develop a level of trust during the summer that will encourage honest sharing, including obstacles and setbacks as well as the achievement of milestones and successes.
Project evaluation will be led by the institute’s assessment team, comprised of the Project Directors/Co-Investigators, the Director of Assessment at LMU, and the Manager of Surveys and Evaluation at LMU. Assessment and evaluation will cover all aspects of the project, including the assessment of learning outcomes from the institute, the overall effectiveness of the institute, and the effectiveness of the researcher support mechanisms employed throughout the project (tools for communication and interaction throughout the academic year following the institute). We plan to seek formal feedback from the university’s Office of Assessment, in addition to a thorough internal review conducted by the project directors.
Evaluation of the project will be ongoing. Formative evaluation will lead to changes in the institute curriculum and our mechanisms to support scholars throughout the project; the goal will be to gauge success/failure and make adjustments as we proceed. After the completion of each year of the institute training we plan to review the design of the institute and make changes as we receive feedback from the scholars and instructors. As a condition of participating in the fully-funded institute, participants will agree to contribute to the formative and summative project evaluations. Via surveys and focus groups, we will gather data from participants regarding their thoughts about the curriculum, what follow up support was helpful or lacking, what challenges they still face, and other issues. Specifics plans for the evaluations will be formulated with the assessment team. We will conduct a summative evaluation at the end of Year 3, focused on the overall success of the project, looking at both short-term and long-term successes of institute scholars.
Our evaluation process and the results of our evaluations will be documented so that it can be shared to inform other institutes that are developed based on our model. All reports will be posted on the project website and archived in our institutional repository, Digital Commons @ LMU.
We have established the following learning outcomes for each group of institute participants. After completing the institute, scholars will be able to:
- Competently complete the design for a research project.
- Effectively communicate the results of research through publication or presentation.
- Identify partners for future research at the librarians’ home institutions and at other libraries; participants should feel confident about reaching out to librarians at other institutions, and possibly professionals in other disciplines, to conduct future research.
- Disseminate the results of their applied or theoretical research project.
Additional indicators of success will include examining the number of projects successfully launched by institute scholars, the number of new projects developed by scholars, collaborations in new research, and the confidence scholars feel in their ability to conduct successful research.
The retention of academic librarians of color is a critical issue to our profession. Damasco & Hodges (2012) note that the librarians of color who responded to their 2009 survey on promotion and tenure cited the challenge of conducting research and writing for publication as a recurring theme. Participation in research and writing workshops was one of the most highly rated professional development activities (Damasco & Hodges, 2012, 292). We believe that the IRDL has the potential to increase the retention of these librarians by helping them achieve tenure and promotion, when it is available to them, and professional advancement and higher salaries when it is not. We will reserve one-third of the spots each year for minority librarians. In addition we will place special emphasis on selecting scholars who propose research that explores diversity in library services, including services to underserved communities and minority librarianship. Our Advisory Board represents the diversity we plan to achieve in the IRDL. We believe that including librarians with a wide range of backgrounds and experience will allow us to explore the diverse types of challenges librarians face in conducting research in a variety of academic and research library settings.
Our communication plan is multi-faceted, and includes traditional mechanisms of presentations, published articles, and discussion in person and via Web-enabled mechanisms. The first step in the plan is to create a project website, where we will post the grant proposal and information about the institute, including progress reports, updates, and evaluations, in addition to application materials. The website will function as the primary communication medium with potential applicants in all three years. Once institute scholars have been selected, we will post a profile of each one on the project website. The website will be archived as a record of the project, along with all course activities.
The project investigators will share the results of the project in the library literature. We will encourage institute scholars to analyze and write about their experiences participating in the institute. We plan to present the results of the institute at conferences, as well as in written publications. We plan to gather data about the research networks of the institute scholars so that we may begin to understand the growth of their personal learning networks as a result of participation in the institute; we will share the summaries of the networks publicly. While the project is ongoing this will publicize the institute and build an audience for future institutes. We will emphasize in all communication that we are seeking a sustainable model for academic librarians to learn about doing research and support one another in conducting research and disseminating the results. Thus, conferences and other opportunities for face-to-face discussion will be important for the success of the project.
At the conclusion of the project, the principal investigators will analyze the evaluative data and publish the project results in the library literature, perhaps co-authoring with institute scholars. We also plan to offer conference panel discussions with the investigators, instructors, and institute scholars discussing the institute and the other support mechanisms we will have put in place to support the work of academic librarian researchers. The goal will be to share project successes and failures in order to create a sustainable model.
The three-year project to develop the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship will focus on sustainability beginning in the first year and continuing for the duration of the project, anticipating developing a business model to continue the institute and its attendant support activities without grant funding. We are offering the institute with IMLS funding to the first three cohorts of institute scholars; these scholars will be participants in the efforts to find a workable and sustainable model for the institute. The investigators will explore a variety of business models, including working with a school of library and information science, a consortium, or a professional association. The three project partners believe that a research institute with well-documented success in advancing the research goals of academic and research librarians could establish a cost-recovery funding model, and we may consider this option.
Research findings suggest that offering some face-to-face interaction to institute participants is an important aspect of their learning journey; however, we recognize that attending a nine-day institute may be impractical for some participants and may be cost-prohibitive in the future. SJSU’s library school is expert in the delivery of online instruction. Thus, we will be exploring both a hybrid version of the institute with a shorter face-to-face component in order to expand our reach to more academic librarian researchers.
We do not anticipate that LMU will be the permanent home for the institute, but neither do we rule it out. Rather, we believe that a library school partner, such as SJSU, or an organizational partner, such as SCELC, will provide the ongoing support needed to sustain the institute, probably with another college, university, or museum library. We envision a board of advisors, such as we have assembled for this project, working with the sponsoring entity to insure continuity and relevance for the intended audience of practicing academic and research librarians. We believe that an effective research institute with reasonable costs will be attractive to participants and their institutions once grant funding has ended.
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