Pushing the boundaries

Research into Practice at ISKOUK 2013

I had the privilege of chairing the Research into practice session at the biennial ISKO UK conference held at UCL in London on 8th and 9th July 2013. The conference set out to push the boundaries in the context of knowledge organisation (classification, taxonomies and metadata).

The boundary between research and practice often inhibits practitioners from making best use of the range of search methodologies that are available.  As a researcher and an information management practitioner I am always on the lookout for new methods or critiques of existing methods to improve the quality of my own research.  It also helps me in my role as a supervisor for Masters students at City University and in the Centre for Archives and Information Studies at the University of Dundee.

What have I learned about research? The experience of three leading practitioner researchers – information professionals who use research to support their work – was particularly interesting and informative.

Alison Brettle from Salford University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Social Work talked about Evidence-Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) and its derivation from the evidence-based practice that has evolved in the health sector. This opened up a debate about whether the hierarchy of research evidence used in the health sector with systematic reviews at the pinnacle of the pyramid was appropriate for LIS work.

This was a theme picked up in Graham Walton’s paper which explored the differences between practitioner and academic research. He reflected on his experience as Head of Planning and Resources at the University of Loughborough Library.

Practitioner based research is often even more resource constrained than academic research because it is rarely seen as the primary activity of a practitioner. Often no specific resources are earmarked for research.  That said, there was a strongly held view that research should be as rigorous as possible if it is to convince and persuade.

The third speaker, Marieke Guy talked about the work of the Digital Curation Centre, funded by JISC and HEFCE. She emphasised the importance of building data curation into the research plan rather than considering what happens to data gathered, after the project has been completed.  This also highlighted the richness of data sets already available for researchers to utilise in their projects.

This was just one part of an interesting and wide-ranging conference and I look forward to the next biennial conference in 2015.

About the author

David Haynes

David Haynes

David is a Director of Aspire². His interests lie in metadata, information taxonomies and information governance. He is an experienced PRINCE2 practitioner. David leads courses on his specialist areas and is author of ‘Metadata for Information Management and Retrieval’. Currently he is researching on the regulation of information at City University, London.