RAILS: slides and reflection

On Tuesday 18 June, I presented at the Research Applications in Information and Library Studies (RAILS) seminar, held in Melbourne at RMIT. I shared some preliminary findings of my research project I’ve been working on this past semester which focused on evidence-based practice in library and information science (LIS) and looked at the types of evidence that are used (or not used) by Australian special librarians in daily practice. My research project also sought to explore environmental factors and influences associated with the types of evidence that is used in certain circumstances.

In this presentation, I briefly outline my research project by identifying key literature that informed the study, as well as research questions and how I went about completing it. Admittedly, this was a small scale study, so findings (once finalised) will not be generalisable. But it is hoped that this research study will raise awareness of the types of evidence used to inform daily LIS practice and contribute to a picture of what evidence-based practice looks like in the professional context. In doing so, this research study promotes the need to further understand what is “best available” in circumstances that makes evidence supportive and useful to practitioners day-to-day.

This research study highlights a need for a more inclusive EBLIP model (at least open the door to dialogue between practitioners and researchers/ literature), to make the model more reflective of the LIS professional context. First of all, published research or literature in journals and the like, is not the only type of evidence, but it is the most recognisable. And secondly, there are types of evidence that may be used to varying extents. This is reflected in a diagram in my presentation slides. What is evidence, is for another blog post. What I will say right now is that only with an inclusive EBLIP model, that recognises the types of evidence that is used and how, will the profession be able to understand what evidence is available to it, in terms of a professional knowledge base, then progress the profession’s knowledge by devising ways to appraise, tease out, debate, verify, build upon and make it available and known.

The overarching lesson from this research study is that evidence-based practice in LIS daily practice is messy and all shades of grey. The realities of day-to-day practice does not echo the black and white picture ideal that is often preached in the literature.

My presentation slides can be found below.

Now for my reflection on how I went with the presentation….

A bundle of nerves, I was. The chair of the session asked if I could do my own introduction, but it completely slipped my mind once I moved to the front to deliver my presentation. Had the audience known more about me and what I currently do, what I had to say may have carried more weight. I’m more than a student. I’m a professional with real life, practical experience in this profession. I knew my sh*t. But in saying all this, my biography was supplied and included in the program. No biggie.

There was no lectern, so my index cards with my notes were waved about for all to see. I like to connect with my audience, I talk with my hands, so I couldn’t do too much about this. There may be another way to have notes a little more discretely, but for now, one slide per index card works for me. If I need to write on more than one index card for a slide, I’m talking too much. In terms of presentation skills, I’m putting this one down as experience. I’m improving.

Delivering a presentation in front of an audience who were mostly academics, when I come from the other side of the fence I thought, was brave. Believing in what I knew and what I understood enabled me to answer a challenge posed by a member of the audience. I accepted the audience member’s point of view and tried to answer as collaboratively as possible to demonstrate I was willing to have the conversation while also indicating a need to look at the real world of daily practice. And that’s why I participated at RAILS – to have the conversation between the practitioner world and the researcher world. This profession needs more of this sort of conversation, we’re on the same team. But you know, both sides need to be willing.

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