“Your literature review is sparse and full of self-citation”: Content analyses in LIS

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

So a few months ago I submitted the follow-up to my C&RL article from last year for review. This one is an analysis of LIS literature to try to determine how prevalent the study of research is in this field. The feedback I got from reviewers was helpful and I recently submitted a heavily revised (hopefully improved) version of the article. Two pieces of feedback I received on the original, though, stuck out. Both were from the same reviewer and they gave me a lot to think about.

The first was when the reviewer highlighted a line from my abstract that read: “The study of research is prevalent in the LIS field.” The reviewer felt that this was a truism and that it should be removed. I had to look up what this means. It turns out a truism is a statement that’s so obviously true that it basically doesn’t mean anything.

The second was about my lit review, which the reviewer felt was “sparse” and “skewed to self-citation”(1).

I had to do a lot of work in my revision to try to untangle that second comment and in doing so I found myself also untangling the other.

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Off for the holidays

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I’m off for the holidays and won’t be posting any new content but I thought I’d pin a thing here highlighting some favorite past posts in case you missed them.

Thanks for reading and see you in the new year!

Teaching evaluating sources from a research-as-subject perspective

In my last post, I talked about how, like most instruction librarians, when I teach students how to evaluate information, I used to rely heavily on tools like the CRAAP test to help students through the process. In some cases, particularly one-shot sessions where there may not be time to teach students the nuances of this process, I still do. If nothing else, they are a handy way to help students learn that they should be thinking about the quality of the sources they are using. And they fit well on a handout.

The CRAAP test and similar tools were (arguably) a good fit for Standards-based teaching, where the evaluation of information was an explicit learning outcome. But even before we traded the Standards for the Framework, a lot of librarians were dissatisfied with these tools because they oversimplified the evaluation process. The CRAAP test in particular seemed to mostly only apply to internet sources, giving students the false impression that these were the only types of sources that needed to be evaluated. Plus, they didn’t stop students from just choosing whatever came up first in their list of search results, regardless of whether it was clearly biased or too old.

These criticisms are particularly true when you take into account the contextual nature of research, as the Framework does. Currency, for example, is important for some research topics, like those based on technology or science, but less so for others, like history and literature. And that’s just within academic and scholarly research. There are also likely to be differences in how information is evaluated in professional, creative, and scientific contexts as well.

While I don’t have much flexibility with one-shot sessions, I wanted to start thinking about how to adapt my usual lessons on evaluating information to also get students to think about the contextual nature of research. It turns out, it didn’t need much tweaking.

Here’s how the lesson works.

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Studies of Research: Reshaping the Library Literature

I’ve mentioned before that one of the cool things about the study of research is that it’s already out there, in so many forms and in so many fields (not just library and information science!), even if that’s not what the researchers doing this work would necessarily call it. I saw a lot of examples of this at the ACRL 2019 Conference and I wanted to spend some time here taking a closer look at a few of them.

So let’s take a closer look at “Reshaping the Library Literature: Scholarship Challenges and Opportunities for Technical Services Librarians at Smaller Institutions”by Heather Getsay and Aiping Chen-Gaffey.

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Finding my research path: Taking a big swing

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

About a year ago, my article “Research is an Activity and a Subject of Study” was published in College & Research Libraries. This article represented something of a turning point for my research and writing, first because it drew inspiration from outside the library and information science field and second because it was a much bigger swing than what I’d previously written. But the big ideas in this article have led me down a path of discovery that has made me more excited about research and writing than I was before. And it’s led to some great conversations. So I’m really glad I took that big swing.

I wanted to take some space now to reflect on what taking that swing was like in part as a way to encourage others to do the same with their own ideas.

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Selected Resources: Using Practitioner-Engaged Evidence Synthesis to Teach Research and IL Skills

You may not be aware of this, but every year the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee puts out two lists of Selected Resources, one focused on teaching methods and instructional design and the other focused on assessment. These lists feature articles and other materials that have been published the previous year that are worthy of note. It’s a resource that doesn’t get as much use or attention as it should, so I’ve decided to assign myself the homework of making my way through each item on last year’s lists and write about it here.

Today we’re all about “Using-Practitioner-Engaged Evidence Synthesis to Teach Research and Information Literacy Skills: A Model and Case Study” by Sarah Young and Mary Maley.

Disclosure: I am currently a member of the ACRL Instruction Section Teaching Methods Committee, which selects and evaluates materials for the Selected Resources lists. I played a role in the selection process and reviewed several of the items that ended up on the final list for the current year as part of that process.

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Studies of research: Takeaways from “Spinning a Scholarly Story”

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I’ve mentioned before that one of the cool things about the study of research is that it’s already out there, in so many forms and in so many fields (not just library and information science!), even if that’s not what the researchers doing this work would necessarily call it. I saw a lot of examples of this at the ACRL 2019 Conference and I wanted to spend some time here taking a closer look at a few of them.

I hope the researchers whose work I plan to talk about for this series don’t mind that I’ll be applying the “study of research” label to what they do, but in each case I’ll try to make it clear why I’m doing that.

So let’s take a closer look at “Spinning a Scholarly Story: Using Faculty Interviews to Develop a Scholarly Communications Agenda for Liaison Librarians” by Teresa Auch Schultz and Ann Medaille.

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Myths about research

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

Early on in the information literacy course I teach each semester, I introduce students to a couple of common myths about research, things students commonly believe because of their experience with academic research. This includes things like “research is about finding the right answer” and “citation sucks” (which I tell them isn’t really a myth because, well, citation does suck).

Now that I’m spending some time thinking about the role of research in creative writing, I’m finding that there’s a whole other set of myths/beliefs that keep cropping up, ones that I hadn’t thought about or that don’t apply to the type of research I usually teach.

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The Contextual Nature of “Un-Research”

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

At this point, I’ve written a few things about the contextual nature of research and offered some thoughts on how to bring that idea into information literacy classrooms. I’ve also mentioned that my opportunities for changing my own teaching in the way I’m advocating for are somewhat limited at the moment.

Then I realized that some of these ideas actually have connections to something I tried in the past and wrote about in an article that was published in Communications in Information Literacy called “Teaching Information Literacy Through ‘Un-Research.’”

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Studies of Research: “I’d Say It’s Good Progress”

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I spent some time recently answering some of the questions that came up about my presentation at the ACRL 2019 Conference in Cleveland way back in…wow, April. Now that all of that is done, I want to change the focus a little to other presentations and papers that came from that conference. Specifically, ones that focus on the study of research.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the cool things about the study of research is that it’s already out there, in so many forms and in so many fields (not just library and information science!), even if that’s not what the researchers doing this work would necessarily call it. I saw a lot of examples in the ACRL Conference program and I hope the researchers whose work I plan to talk about for this series don’t mind that I’ll be applying that label to what they do, but in each case I’ll try to make it clear why I’m doing that.

So let’s take a closer look at “I’d Say It’s Good Progress: An Ecological Momentary Assessment of Student Research Habits” by Emily Crist, Sean Leahy, and Alan Carbery.

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