Update on research and writing projects

Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

Late spring and early summer are typically times when my focus shifts from teaching and service to research and writing. That shift got something of an early start this year due to the pandemic but amidst all of the weirdness, it took me a while to get myself organized. Now I’m on a little bit of a steadier track and wanted to share some updates on where I’m at with some projects I’m currently working on, including a book project for ALA, a follow-up to “Research is an Activity and a Subject of Study,” and not one but two articles related to the role of research in creative writing.

Here’s what I’ve got.

Book project for ALA: In early April, a book proposal that I’d submitted to ALA got accepted, which was very exciting. The book is going to expand on some of the ideas I’ve talked about here and elsewhere about how to incorporate the contextual nature of research into information literacy instruction. This is my first time writing a book and it’s definitely been a learning experience so far. For one, books are a lot longer than articles. Which, like, no duh. But seriously. Ideas that I only spent a few paragraphs on in previous writing projects are now the subjects of entire chapters and suddenly I have to find a way to spend thousands of words on something that in the past I’ve usually had to sum up in a few hundred words due to time and space constraints. On the one hand, it’s kind of freeing being able to explore some of these ideas in more depth. On the other, freedom is freaking scary and I have no idea what my editor will say when he sees what I’ve come up with so far. I’m sure I’ll need to do some work to find the proper balance of information but as terrified as I am, I’m overall really happy to have the opportunity to write an entire book about a subject that I’m really passionate about.

Follow-up to “Research is an Activity and a Subject of Study”: For a couple of years now, I’ve been working on getting an article that’s a direct follow-up to “Research is an Activity and a Subject of Study” published. As I wrote recently, I’ve hit some interesting road blocks. The article is an investigation of nearly 500 articles published in core journals in the LIS field to try to get a sense of how much research itself is treated as a subject of study by LIS researchers. This was my first time doing the type of research that requires, like, numbers and calculations and I will be the first to tell you that it’s not perfect but I still think the findings are interesting and meaningful. The peer review process has been pretty rough, though, and right now I’m feeling a bit stalled for reasons I outlined in more detail in my previous post. When I wrote that post, I was pretty much ready to just give up on the article because I don’t want to take time away from other, better projects (see above and below) to spend yet more time trying to fix this one. But I’ve had the spark of an idea or two so maybe at some point I’ll revisit the damn thing and see if anything comes from it.

The role of research in creative writing LIS edition: I’ve also been working on a couple of projects related to the role of research in creative writing. One is an article I already wrote that’s geared more toward an LIS audience. The feedback I got from some trusted colleagues was that the ideas were interesting but there wasn’t enough there to publish as an article. In particular, there was no obvious practical application to what I’d found. Which was fair. I mean, I’d tried to make a case about how the lack of information about the role of research in creative writing in popular how-to writing books might be significant as far as shaping whatever services or programs or collections we might have for more creative populations but honestly my heart wasn’t fully in that argument. So since then I’ve started investigating what writing books academic libraries have in their collections and what (if anything) some of those might have to say about the role of research in creative writing compared to the more popular books I’ve already investigated. Unfortunately, once I’d identified the books I wanted to look at, I wasn’t able to access them because of the pandemic. I don’t know when that will change but I’m hoping when it does, I’ll find something that will help me make a better case for why this should be interesting to LIS audiences.

The role of research in creative writing, writing studies edition: Meanwhile, I’m working on an article that features a lot of the same ideas (and some of the same research) filtered through the lens of a field I have tenuous ties to at best. I mean, I was a creative writing major as an undergraduate, so I’m not straying completely out of my area of expertise but I’ve definitely never tried to get something published in a writing studies journal before and I have no idea if this will be seen as a good fit but I think it’s worth a try because it does have some relevance, particularly when it comes to creative writing pedagogy. If nothing else, it’s been a fun experiment. It turns out that scholarly articles in writing studies (or at least the ones I’ve been reading) are a little more flexible in terms of tone and style than what you typically see in the LIS journals. I’m particularly fascinated by how often writing studies scholars use the first person, sometimes even incorporating personal narrative into their work while still maintaining a scholarly tone. It’s freeing to try to write this way.

Establishing shot annotated bibliography: It’s been a while since I tried to write what my mentor often refers to as an “I did it good” type of article. Mostly when I have something like that that I want to share, I just write about it here but the audience for this blog is still pretty small (though much appreciated!) and I think the “establishing shot” annotated bibliography experiment I tried in the spring semester was interesting enough that it’s worth sharing a little more widely. The trouble is, I’ve only used this activity once and all of the benefits I observed were purely anecdotal. I think it would make sense to try it again with more of an eye toward writing it up afterward but the trouble with that is I’ll be on sabbatical in the fall and won’t be teaching a credit course again until next March. So that might be a while. Still, it’s something I’m thinking about.


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