Thoughts about Research Context

Research  Context

I had to write my Research Context section for my PGCert project.  When I met my supervisor, she explained this is where I write a brief literature review.  I have now done this and added it to my PGCert Project Page.

Then I’ll have to write my Professional Aims, and also personal benefits to me.

My Research Questions come next.

Then my Methodology – a qualitative study/approach, using a thematic method of analysis.  Google Braun and Clarke for a list for thematic analysis.

  1. My plan of action will then be:-2016 Survey informs intervention
  2. See what students think might be useful.
  3. Build intervention
  4. Share intervention with cohort
  5. Send a short questionnaire
  6. Interview my four categories of respondent (hope I get all four categories!)
  7. Analysis


Project Reading, and ResearchGate

Ah, the weekend! I sit in a chaotic dining room (which doubles up as my office), while things sit in relocated heaps because three different parts of the house are being decorated!  It’s hard to concentrate on anything (and my PGCert is just one of the things I should be concentrating on this weekend), but I can just about manage to blog, and read in between interruptions.  It’s either that or the ironing!

Credit-Bearing Instruction

So, checking my emails I discover that a librarian from Canada has responded to my ResearchGate conversation about user education.  William Badke is at Trinity Western University Canada, and he is in  favour of credit-bearing instruction.  Now, when I did my own PhD at the University of Glasgow, we all had to pass a library/IT module, but it wasn’t exactly credit-bearing. Satisfactory completion was just essential.  I was exempt from much of it, being a subject librarian myself at another institution.

Graduate Attributes: What should a Graduate “Look” Like? (Not Literally!)

In my own job, I give irregular seminars to students at any level if their teachers request this. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it’s best given at point of need, eg when an essay or project has to be handed in!  However, although training is kind of compulsory if we’re attending a scheduled lecture or seminar, there’s no compulsion in the sense that credits have to be earned or a “library training” box ticked as part of the students’ studies.  In our own situation, we’re quite proud of the amount we are now involved in teaching compared to how things were even three or four years ago.  Prior to the redesign of our Bachelors’ degrees, I did encounter one comment that students ‘didn’t want to be trained in information science’ – after all, they’re at a conservatoire.  Nonetheless, degree-level study, or study towards a degree, demands degree-level (or heading for degree-level) information handling skills. Not as a librarian, but with the aim of becoming a competent information-seeking graduate. I’ve been attending programme committee meetings this week, and one thing that resonated with me was that programme designers and educationalists know what they want a typical graduate from our institution to ‘look like’; however, from the students’ point of view, they want to be performers, and to that end they want to spend most of their time performing.  They don’t yet see the need for acquiring the kind of graduate attributes that will, actually, turn out to be useful.

Networking by Social Media

But back to William in Canada – he has just shared with me his own website for library teaching resources, which is very generous of him. And I see he has also published a book on the subject.  So, that’s two more things to go on my reading list – the website and the book! Maybe we could even consider getting the book, if it suits the Conservatoire context.  I am really grateful for the generosity of fellow-researchers and librarians on ResearchGate.  I’m getting so much useful discussion, not to mention recommendations for reading or websites to visit.  (And in my day-to-day work as a librarian, last week I contacted a professor in a totally different discipline to ask about a paper she had listed but not yet uploaded, because one of our students couldn’t access it by any other means.  This week, she kindly uploaded it!  The research scene is so very different from pre-internet days – it’s great!

So, here are Williams’s resources:-

Badke, William, Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 5th Edition (iUniverse, 2014) – it’s available as paperback on Amazon

Badke, William, Teaching Resources (used at Trinity Western University, Canada) [website, accessed 2017.01.14]

I’ll add these to the reading list I compiled earlier this week, and to my full Resources page.

Another Night for Reading

Today was a research day.  I have almost written the first draft of my next paper. I’m a guest speaker, so it has to be good!  I’m a bit surprised to find I wrote just under 3,000 words, so that’s quite a decent output for one office day.

But tonight I must get back to my PGCert reading. I’ve annotated four of the items I have set aside to read. The links to my blogposts are inserted so that it will be easy to refer back to them later.

Here’s the list.  Some hope of getting through it all!  Two articles, by Tinto, were added just as I read the Bowskill item. And later, I added the two Badke references. (At some point I will need to stop collecting and just get on with reading – after all, I have a project proposal to complete soon!)

  1. Badke, William, Research Strategies: Finding Your Way Through the Information Fog, 5th Edition (iUniverse, 2014) – it’s available as paperback on Amazon

  2. Badke, William, Teaching Resources (used at Trinity Western University, Canada) [website, accessed 2017.01.14]

  3. Bowskill, Nicholas, Student-generated induction: a social identity approach. A Staff development guide.  (Nicholas Bowskill, 2013) [Started and blogged about briefly – to continue]  I have now read enough of this book – basically a script for a workshop on induction using this approach.  The link to my notes is an earlier blogpost, ‘Project Planning’, dated 25th August 2016, which I’ve just extended:-
  4. Brabazon, Tara, ‘Press learning: the potential of podcasting through pause, record, play and stop’, Knowledge Management & E-Learning vol.8 no.3, Sept 2016, 430-443 [have read, blogged, intend to reread]  I blogged briefly about this on 16th September,  ‘Can’t you do a podcast?’:-
  5. El Hakim, Yaz, et al, ‘The impact of RefME on the student experience’, report on research by University of Greenwich and Sheffield Hallam University, 2016, 11 pp. I now see that I did blog about RefME – ‘When a tweet provokes thought’, 18th December:-  and I remember my frustration. I truly do think RefME has a lot of potential, but if I can’t scan ISBNs on my phone, can’t search for typed ISBNs, and can’t get a response to either helpdesk calls or tweeted appeals for help, then I am not going to recommend it.  I like Mendeley. I trust it.  I believe Zotero is equally good. I’m sorry, RefME – I won’t be recommending you.  It’s a shame.
  6. Fabri, Marc, ‘Thinking with a new purpose: lessons learned from teaching design thinking skills to creative technology students’, Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015, 32-43 [have read, intend to reread, full citation probably on Mendeley but too late to find just now!]
  7. George, Sarah, and Tasnim Munshi, Making Students Eat Their Greens: Information Skills for Chemistry Students (Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Fall 2016)
  8. Library Impact Data Project, Focus Group Write-Up blogged by Graham Stone, December 20, 2012, reporting observations by Martin Philip at the University of Huddersfield [to read properly]
  9. Macfarlane, Eric, Who cares about education? … Going in the wrong direction (s.l. : New Generation Publishing, 2016) [recommended in a blog by Evelyn Glennie – purchased last week]
  10. Maxymuk, John, ‘Online communities’, The Bottom Line, vol.20 iss.1, 2007, 54-57 [to read]
  11. Maynard, Sally, and Emily Cheyne, ‘Can electronic textbooks help children to learn?’, The Electronic Library, Vol.23 iss 1, pp.72-81 [hyperlink is available – to insert later.  Still to read this]
  12. Moon, Jennifer, A Handbook of reflective and experiential learning: theory and practice (London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2004) [Bought, not yet read]
  13. Salmon, Gilly, Etivities: the key to active online learning (London: RoutledgeFalmer, 2003, 2004) [To read]
  14. Sheridan, Mark, and Charles Byrne, ‘Transformations and cultural change in Scottish music education: historical perspectives and contemporary solutions’, paper presented at 32nd World Conference International Society for Music Education, Glasgow, July 2016 [have read, intend to reread]
  15. Shirley, Rachel, ‘”Not an ogre”: adult music learners and their teachers: a corpus-based discourse analysis, poster session.  This is unrelated to library instruction, but I like the suggestion that a student’s comments about their teacher or their teacher’s observations might reveal underlying anxieties. Worth bearing in mind.

New Page on Blog – PGCert Project

This is basically a flag for my supervisor!  There is now a new page for my PGCert Project.

I’m woefully behind with my project! As I mentioned in my blog in September, my GP diagnosed me as suffering from stress-related symptoms (to add to the migraines which in themselves technically count as a disability under the terms of the Equality Act). I’ve only had a couple of days off for flu, and a couple more for migraines – but I’ve had so many migraines that I generally just take painkillers and try to keep going at work.  The negative side of this is the exhaustion and inability to do as much intellectual work as I’d like in the evenings, particularly as I’m also engaged in a research project and am a church organist, too.

This page that I’ve just created, is my New Year, “turning over a new leaf” attempt to get back on track.

My project proposal still hasn’t been handed in. I did a chunk of writing in September on my blog :- – and I have blogged intermittently since then.  I’ve read a few articles, thought about various aspects of the project, and got hold of masses of raw data in the form of recent library surveys. I plan to extract relevant comments about using electronic resources and library induction in general. This will inform my questions in the questionnaire I have yet to write, and probably also the interviews I propose to conduct.

So – what does my proposal have to contain?  What follows is copied from the blogpost I’ve linked to above.  In total, it has to be 1000 words.  There’s also an ethical approval form to complete and submit.  The deadline is technically in February, but I may need formally to request an extension.

My To Do list looks like this:-

  1. Check EXACTLY what must be done, and deadlines. Knowledge is less stressful than uncertainty!  I have today (10 January) conferred with my project supervisor.
  2. Complete proposal documents
  3. Check what literature I’ve READ so far, and look at the other material I’ve got waiting to read.
  4. Ethical approval form
  5. Mine the data already gathered together from the library surveys, particularly for 2016.
  6. Collate relevant ResearchGate discussions

Wordcount – must be 1000 words

To Do List

  • Research Context (ie, miniature literature review) DONE.  Not really very miniature! – today, 2017-01-18
  • Professional Aims (personal benefits as well as library benefits)
  • Research Questions
  • Methodology

Last Posting Tonight

I really need to get cracking with my PGCert project now that Christmas is over.  As I’ve mentioned, I had a very stressful six months at the end of last year.  By the time Christmas crept up on me, I visualised my GP diagnosing burnout, and made a last-minute decision to take an extra day’s annual leave before Christmas.  I felt as though I was barely functioning – it was time to stop before I crumpled into a little disconsolate heap.

After Christmas, I did no intellectual work for ten days.  I looked at my work emails only once (because I’m helping organise a conference outwith work, and I didn’t want to let anyone down by not completing a particular task).  And I sewed, did all the domesticity stuff, and slept.  That was about it.

The major stress-factor is resolved, though I still have plenty of other things requiring my attention.  Unfortunately, I’m still tired.  That doesn’t seem to be going away fast enough.  Still, I’m still here, and it’s a new year.  That’s about as good as it gets!

So I asked ResearchGate …

As I mentioned, there’s the facility for asking questions on ResearchGate. I’ve decided to be bold, and I’ve just asked a question of my own:-

I may regret this action, but it could yield some very interesting worldwide insights!