LISDIS 2016 – Part One…

Recently, the team attended the second LISDIS Conference, held on 5th November at University College London. For those of you who were unable to attend, this post will provide a summary of the presentations and some reflections on the day. For more information about the conference, see their website or follow them on twitter @LISDISConf.

For those of you unaware, LISDIS is a conference which gives professionals the opportunity to share their LIS Dissertation research. Aside from a fascinating opportunity to learn more about the breadth of LIS research which takes place, the conference can also be useful for current/future LIS students to get advice and inspiration for their own impending dissertations, as well as an insight into the research process – for that reason FLIP were keen to attend as the conference is very much pertinent to our aims as a network!

The day started with tea and coffee and a chance to have a chat with other attendees. This was great as the library and information community is quite a small world and it is almost impossible to turn up at an event and know nobody, so we got a chance to catch up with a few familiar faces before the day began.

The first section of the day had the theme ‘Information and Data’ and included two presentations. The first was from Jane Morgan-Daniel, who is a FLIP contributor, discussing her research into the information needs of occupational health students. Jane chose her dissertation topic partly because it was relevant to her role in a healthcare library; she knew she could use her research for service development within her own workplace. If you’re a part-time or distance learning student (or considering those as study options) doing research relevant to your job can be a very useful way of selecting a dissertation topic – not only will it help you stay focused on the dissertation, but it also feels great to know your research will have genuine impact. Jane also offered some advice to LIS students embarking upon the dissertation: narrow your focus, don’t underestimate how long it will take you to conduct the literature review, do lots of background reading and plan and timetable your data collection carefully! Jane’s presentation was very insightful for learning more about the research process and we would recommend checking out her slides if and when they are made available on Slideshare!

The second presentation was from another FLIP contributor, James Atkinson, who carried out a dissertation which analysed the relationship between data, information and knowledge in LIS.  James’ presentation focused more on the actual research findings than the research process, and was a very interesting (if a little cerebral!!) look at information theory. James’ presentation is a great example of the depth of research that takes place in LIS – his research led to him developing his own information theory!

I think James himself sums his presentation up best:

If we tried to explain the content I am sure that it would not do his project justice so if you are interested in information theory and want to hear more, keep an eye out on the LISDIS twitter feed – hopefully presentations will be added to Slideshare soon!

The second round of presentations focused on the theme of ‘linking with our users’, and three presentations were given.

The first, from Helena Byrne, immediately grabbed our attention when she opened by explaining that in Ireland (at UCD at least) LIS students undertake a Capstone Project rather than a traditional dissertation.

It is safe to say this is not something we are aware of UK Library schools doing either! The Capstone Project involved students working as a group, with a client – in Helena’s case it was the Abbey Ballroom and the group worked on an Oral History of Indoor Football – in order to solve a genuine information need. On the one hand, this sounds to us like an interesting way to put your newly learned skills into practice as it mirrors the sort of project work many information professionals may find themselves involved in at work. On the other hand, many people dislike group-work and having it form such a large part of your postgraduate qualification sounds stressful! Fortunately, Helena described her experience as being very positive – the entire group taking ‘ownership’ of the project and working well collaboratively – despite being spread out across Ireland!

The project itself involved developing a resource guide and an exhibition on behalf of Drogheda Local Voices and sounded like a genuinely fascinating culmination to a postgraduate qualification.

The next presentation came from Megan Dyson, whose dissertation looked at User format preferences at Leeds College of Music library. Megan is another example of an LIS student carrying out research which can benefit their workplace – in looking at user preferences her research could be used to inform collection development policy. Megan’s research adopted a mixed-methods approach, which is to say it used both qualitative and quantitative data to inform findings. In this case the qualitative was what users said their preference were vs the quantitative what usage statistics showed were more popular formats.  If you’re unsure about what sort of study you would want to undertake for an LIS dissertation, Megan’s presentation provided an interesting and easily understandable breakdown of what you can do with both qualitative and quantitative data.

The final presentation for this section was from Dilyana Ducheva, whose research focused on the implementation of RDA in Europe. This is a great example of how you can focus your dissertation around things that are current in the profession and as such potentially make a meaningful wider contribution to the LIS community with your project. The change to RDA is still ongoing and Dilyana found throughout the project that new adopters were cropping up – with Spain even announcing their decision to adopt RDA the day before the presentation was given. The scope of the project was enormous, with participants from 12 different countries taking part in Dilyana’s research. We’re certainly very impressed that Dilyana managed to pull off such an ambitious project!

Dilyana’s map of RDA adopters in purple, and those remaining with AACR2 in green.

After five presentations it was time for lunch. We therefore feel that this is a good place to end this post – keep an eye out for part two, covering the remaining presentations!

Because who doesn’t love free sandwiches! Thanks to the team for managing to arrange catering for attendees!!!


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