Hazel Hall talked about Coalition and collaboration: supporting the development of LIS research in the UK, at the i3 conference at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen http://www.i3conference2011.org.uk/. In particular, she was talking about the UK's Library and Information Science Research Coalition. Hall, who heads up the Coalition, started by outlining the history of research funding in the UK: after having some library & information-specific bodies, now the major funding body is the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which makes it difficult for non-academics to apply for research funding.
The idea of forming a new body emerged about 5 years ago, and this developed into the Library and Information Science Research Coalition. Some problems it strives to address are:
- identification of sources of funding,
- accessing previous research output (in contast to previous requirements to publish a substantial report from projects),
- practitioners who are not very engaged with other people's research and lack confidence in research skills,
- need to demonstrate impact of libararies, and get better at using non-tangible evidence,
- also there is an underlying belief that engaging with research can enhance practioners' job satisfaction etc. and enhance career progression and retention.
The research Coalition has funding for 3 years, with support from JISC, British Library, CILIP, MLA and the Research Information Network, and it was launched in 2009. Hall was keen to get more practitioner groups involved e.g. public librarians. There is a lot of information about the Coalition on its website (linked above) so I won't repeat too many basic details. In particular, Hall highlighted the resources about the 2010 conference, the events listing, the HEALER research toolkit, and their Twitter stream (an interesting sidenote is that Hall started by giving about whether she should be tweeted in her individual or organisational capacity (LISRC). She also talked about the DREAM (Developing Research Excellence and Methods) project http://lisresearch.org/dream-project/
including the upcoming conference and the RiLIES (Research in Librarianship – Impact Evaluation) Project http://lisresearch.org/rilies-project/
Hall also mentioned the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, which is one of the ESRC-funded doctoral training centres (Sheffield University belongs to a regional consortium for this). They have succeeded in getting an information science pathway within this, which is an achievement, since normally it would just be the AHRC (rather than the ESRC) offering doctoral awards in the library and information field (that is how we get our awards in Sheffield).