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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Hedwig and the Angry Inch is secretly about the ethical use of information

Image source: Wikipedia

One of my favorite pieces of scholarly literature in the library and information science field is an article by Emily Dill and Karen L. Janke called “New Shit Has Come to Light: Information Seeking Behavior in The Big Lebowski.” It is exactly what it sounds like: a study of the information-seeking strategies of the characters in The Big Lebowski.

I think of this article every time I watch Hedwig and the Angry Inch because every time I watch Hedwig, all I can think about is how, underneath all of its other themes, it is, at its core, a lesson about the ethical use of information.

Let me explain.

(The following includes spoilers for Hedwig and the Angry Inch, both the movie and the play.)

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Using the annotated bibliography as the “establishing shot”

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Lately I’ve been reading some scholarly literature from the writing studies field for a project I’m working on. I’m always fascinated by the parallels I see between how writing studies practitioners/scholars and information literacy practitioners/scholars talk about what they do and the challenges they face. I really think we need a space for practitioners and scholars in these two fields to talk to each other about their work.

Anyway, I found what I think could be an interesting new parallel in the article Documenting and Discovering Learning: Reimagining the Work of the Literacy Narrative by Julie Lindquist and Bump Halbritter.

This article has me thinking: what if the research we ask students to do in information literacy classes came at the beginning of the course instead of at the end? What if we used it as an “establishing shot”?

Let me explain.

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Thoughts on the Leadership Institute for Academic Library Managers at Siena College

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Leadership Institute for Academic Library Managers at Siena College, featuring sessions on emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, communicating effectively, leading change, leadership style, and developing teams taught by Paul Thurston, David Liebschutz, Melinda Costello, and Erik Eddy. I found this to be an incredibly valuable experience where I learned far more than I have space for here. But I wanted to at least reflect on a few key points, things that I learned not only about leadership but also about myself.

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ACRL Questions: Talking to faculty about the contextual nature of research

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

This is a new post in an ongoing series where I’m answering questions that came up during my ACRL presentation “Research is Not a Basic Skill.” Previous posts discussed student proficiency versus student confidence, models for teaching the contextual nature of research, why we’re talking in terms of “research” instead of “information literacy,” and the relationship between some of these ideas and critical information literacy.

Today I’m going to spend some time on talking to faculty about the contextual nature of research.

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Defining research

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

I’ve been talking quite a bit here so far about research and I realize that I haven’t really defined my terms. On the one hand, “research” is a term that doesn’t seem to need defining. You know it when you see it. For example, when you type “research” into Pixabay, the images that come up show things that are recognizably related to the idea of research. There’s a guy staring at a bunch of notes pinned to a board. A microscope. A book with some glasses resting on it. A woman sitting at a computer while sipping from a cup of coffee. Stacks of books in a library. Another woman in a white coat in a lab. Beakers. Charts. Graphs.

Research. Obviously.

But maybe it’s not so obvious.

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