Monday, June 20, 2005

Promoting collaboration between researchers and practitioners

I would like to point readers to this small editorial from Library Review 54.5 (2005). Nicholas Joint writes "Promoting Practitioner-Researcher Collaboration in Library and Information Science." Readers who subscribe through Emerald can access it that way, or they can locate the print journal. The article is on pages 289-294. What follows is a short summary.

Practicing librarians may be concerned how research may affect issues of performance in their library. Researchers can address this concern by reassuring the practitioners and demonstrating that research gathered will be handled with solid standards for accuracy and discretion. Both parties must agree that the applied research addressing issues of service will be handled openly and accurately. The author believes that practitioners have an obligation to help with research in order to gain the benefits for their libraries and for the professional community. This is a debatable question to some practitioners, but it is a statement that the author firmly believes in. He argues that the profession should be engaged in active reflection and self-criticism in order to gain credibility as well as continue its growth. Another issue are the requirements many government agencies place on libraries in terms acountability. This may create concerns for practitioners as well who may not feel as competent in terms of compiling data for various reports. Regardless of local culture, the author overall argues for the benefit of openess when it comes to library functions and roles.

Practitioners may also be concerned about workload increases due to invitations, or requirements, to research. In this case, if librarians see that a researcher can help them meet any accountability obligations in an efficient way, they may see the research as advantageous. Researchers need to keep in mind that different types of research can take up different amounts of time to complete. Researchers need to keep in mind that just because libraries compile a lot of data for accountability or for the library's use, it does not mean that data can automatically be used for research purposes. Overall, the author concludes that there are good reasons for researchers and practitioners to collaborate.

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