The research minion

Rock & Roll Minions” by Daniel Y. Go is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

One of the most interesting things I do at work is research. Research can be frustrating, overwhelming, annoying, troublesome and tedious. However, it can also be elating, motivating, joyous and inspiring. The fact that it is so varying is almost the best part of it. It is, however, always time-consuming and a little draining (due to the level 2 thinking (Hello, Kahneman) involved).

When I do my own research projects, this is how the process usually goes:

  • Get an idea and think about turning it into a research project
  • Informal chat with colleagues
  • Forget about it for a while
  • Come back to the idea and try to find some studies or theory to gain more understanding
  • Thinking that my idea is a good one
  • Forget about it for a while – doing some everyday tasks instead because it’s hard to get to the next stage
  • Get my act together and set up a quick draft with some headings, start to write a little in the introduction and think about methods
  • Do some other stuff for a while
  • Drafting questionnaires/ interview questions and writing a little more
  • Reading some more and talking to colleagues
  • Doing some other stuff
  • Finally getting ready to collect data
  • Getting distracted by trying to find the right journal, changes to the methods..
  • etc etc

So – it’s not like I have a very linear process that follows the line charts in a methodology book. However, I am in (some) control over it. If I want to, I can ask for research time and lock myself in my office for a day without Teams, mail etc. As I have said before, research is an activity that must be supported throughout the organization and leaders cannot just decide that we should do more research without also making sure that there is culture for it and time for it.

The other kind of research projects I am involved in are where I am more of a secondary author – still with responsibility for the quality and real contribution (in accordance with the Vancouver rules), but without the control (and responsibility) of the first author. Usually, this is a role I have when I am writing with a faculty member. The involvement varies (within the scope of the aforementioned rules) from setting up searches and writing up this method as well as setting up inclusion/exclusion criteria etc. to being part of defining the question itself and writing the protocol (for reviews) and so on. I love this, too. Writing the protocol can be a little tedious, but I love working with faculty. I really do, and I feel like I push my knowledge and learn a lot, too. The thing I don’t love about this kind of involvement is the lack of control for the project. Yes, I can be a bit of a control freak, I’m not going to deny it, but in this case, no control means that I may have spent a lot of time and energy in to something that might never happen or can happen in so distant a future that it is hard to see the path forward. I am not blaming the faculty here, as some of the things that have happened in the past have also been beyond the faculty’s control. But here are some of the things that have happened:

  • a researcher broke her leg and was on sick leave for so long the project got dropped
  • the format the researchers had chosen were not eligible for the journal that they had chosen and the study therefore it was abandoned
  • the other authors got too busy with their other tasks that the part I was in charge of had to be done over again several times (literature searches are like perishables – they don’t just last for ever)
  • the researcher got sick and the project was handed over to someone else (beyond my reach)
  • the researcher got a new job

And then I feel like a minion. I’m like some trained monkey that knows how to use the databases. Every time something like this happens, I am thinking: “I said yes to the project, I delivered my content well within the time frame, I was prepared to move forward, but then something happened that just washed this down the drain”, which means that I have wasted valuable time and effort into something that may or may not ever come to anything. This has happened to me in my own research projects, too, of course. Sometimes I have discovered that a study already exists and that it’s not worth the time and effort to move ahead, or I may have found that the research method I need cannot be used without more resources than I have etc. But – at least I have some control over this. I get to pull the plug myself.

Again, I’m not going to blame faculty for this. After all, they have their own stuff that is beyond their control, and it must be as frustrating to them as it is to me, but still.. it is sometimes very apparent to me that there are power disparities between us, and that has a big influence on my work and my career.

LOEX 2019: Student research

The more I look at my notes from LOEX2019, the more I think I loved this conference. In each session I attended, there was something new – a new perspective, a new method, a new tool or a new book just waiting to be examined more closely.

One of the really good sessions I went to was about students’ research process. Brianne Markowski and Rachel Dineen from University of Northern Colorado had done an analysis of students’ mind maps of how they do research.

“Think about your last research assignment. How did you proceed?” This was the task that Markowski and Dineen gave their students. The students made mind maps on their processes. Markowski and Dineen wanted to understand how the students perceive their own research process, and they wanted a rich description of data on the maps. Markowski and Dineen analysed and coded each mind map, and they presented some of their findings.

Image of mind map of research process

One of the mind maps collected from a student.

Findings included the following:

  • Students think about the assignments. It was acknowledged as a distinct step on all the mind maps.
  • In some of the mind maps the students show that they have drawn conclusions before they are done.
  • They often emphasise that they take notes.
  • They often place “citing sources” at the end, in stead of something they do throughout the process.
  • Some emphasise that they have asked fellow students or professors.

What does these findings mean? Markowski and Dineen said that we should spend more time on developing their subject/theme/research questions. Maybe we should take some time at the beginning of our courses or classes to think about their research project. What are they interested in? What do they need to know more about? We also need to help the students to think about their sources. They have to reflect on what they read. One way of doing it could be to give them a one-minute paper. Ask them to describe what they want to or need to do now or “What was interesting about this process?” – or something similar.

I have never really thought about asking the students to make mind maps of their research process. I found this very interesting. I would think this kind of assignment would fit right into the “Information creation as a process” frame in the ACRL Framework.

The question is, of course: Were the students involved in this project honest about their process, or did they draw a process that they think they should do? (Alternatively, what they think we wanted to see..?)

image on the categorization of subjects in the mind maps

Categories from the mind maps


Another session that I went to with a similar theme was: “You Can’t Catch Fruit Flies in a Mouse Trap: Teaching Contextual Evaluation of Information Sources”. Gary Arave from Indiana University Bloomington talked about how students often take information out of context. Students tend to scan information sources for sentences they can cite in stead of looking at the sources in more holistic ways. As a consequence, students use sources that are inappropriate to support their claims.

Arave said that information literacy is sense-making. If you are information literate, you can make sense of information. Humans categorise. It reduces the cognitive load. When we experience something new, we categorise: is this a new thing or a typical thing. There is a scale between these two extremes. If something is completely new, we do not know what to do, if it is typical, we get bored. Somewhere in the middle of the scale is good, when it is new enough to be interesting, but we still know how to handle it. We are not either novice or expert – there is a big middle ground here.

We need to give students the tools to see the context the information is created in (I am thinking about the ACRL Framework here..). The CRAAP test (criticised by several at the conference) and the ACRL Framework assumes some prior knowledge. Not all information is suited to every context. We know this, but we do not talk about it (enough).

Arave talked about how he had distributed articles that the students should read before class, given them a tutorial on how to annotate text in Adobe Acrobat, and asked the students to find examples of different kinds of information in the article. For example: “Find an example of demographic information. Mark this with the pink marker.” This was seen as a possible method to get students to reflect on what they read, and to analyse the content of the texts. A good idea, I thought.

New article published

The days and weeks pass so quickly by, and while I often think about blogging more, it is difficult to prioritise it. It keeps being bumped on my to-do list. The spring semester is always a little chaotic, and I´m already thinking that this year will be no exception.

However, one piece of news not too time consuming to blog about: my new research article has been published! Yay! I feel like celebrating this a little extra, because it has been the most difficult article I have yet written. I have written, and rewritten time and again, and I was on the verge of giving up when I finally got it accepted. This time, the process of writing articles really led me to think about my future as an author. I was frustrated at the seemingly endless rewrites, questioning my research skills, and at the same time still interested in what I wanted to say in my article. My heart pounded whenever I received feedback from the reviewers, the disappointment of every new revision, and the final relief to have it accepted.. this is too exhausting! … and yet.. I want to keep going. There must be something seriously wrong with me.. 🙂

If there is something I have learned this time round is that it is always better to plan ahead than to fix mistakes afterwords. Measure twice, cut once. It sounds so simple, but it is not always easy to anticipate the errors. I definitely see why phd students have a supervisor that can help them spot the problems before they occur. I wish I had one, even though I am not a phd student.

I think I´ll write a separate blog post about peer review, and trying to figure out what to do when the reviewers, not only disagree with each other, but directly contradict each other.

Anyway, my new article is about how first-year students in health sciences deal with information needs, and as it is an open access article, you can read it here: https://www.liberquarterly.eu/articles/10.18352/lq.10212/

Co-authorship

Placeholder ImageEarlier this fall I blogged about the roles of academic librarian, and I asked the question: are we academic partners or service providers? (Of course, it is possible to be both, but I wanted to vent my frustration that we never seem to escape the role as someone who gives access to documents and nothing else.) In the blog post I wrote about what rights and responsibilities we (could) have as academic partners, and I wrote that if I give substantial support to researchers, let`s say do all the relevant literature searches for a systematic review, then I expect to be granted co-authorship.

Last week, a professor in medical statistics, Stian Lydersen, expressed an opinion in Universitetsavisa (independent newspaper for NTNU) that while he was co-author of lots of articles, he was not prepared to take responsibility for all content in a paper. (He was talking about academic dishonesty.) He said that his field of expertise is medical statistics, and he was perfectly able to take responsibility for crunching the numbers and presenting them in the paper, but could not always be held responsible for other content in the articles, as some of them fell outside his area of expertise.

This week, two professors at Molde University College state that it is his duty to take responsibility for entire articles where he has co-authorship. These two professors cite the Vancouver guidelines, that clearly states that all authors should be sufficiently involved to be able to take responsibility. The professors continue to state that this is important, otherwise you could end up with research errors that nobody will claim responsibility for. Publication points [Norwegian system awarding publication points, and thereby money to institutions] should not be used as currency, the professors say.

Well, my comment is: it`s already used as currency, and there is little to be done about this as long as we continue with this system. Publication rate is used as background for career advancement, prestige for researchers and money for the institutions. If experts, such as Professor Lydersen, cannot get co-authorship without taking full responsibility for each publication, it presents a problem for all parts. It will be a problem for the experts who can no longer get credit for substantial contributions, and unless he can keep up his publication rate on his own articles within the medical statistics subject, can risk halting his career and damaging his institute. It is a problem for authors who wish to write about important issues within their fields, but no longer has access to experts as Lydersen to help them present statistics in this professional manner. It is also a problem for institutes because they have to find (and pay for) experts who are willing to work for money instead of co-authorships.

It`s probably pretty obvious where I am going with this. If I, in the previously mentioned example, perform database searches for researchers writing a systematic review, I am doing a significant and time-consuming part of the study. I would, in this case, be perfectly able to and willing to take responsibility for any criticism connected to this, for example strategies, wording, selection etc. I could not, however, be supposed to take responsibility for the content or analysis of the articles in the study. I still think I should be granted co-authorship because it would be a significant contribution and partly determine which articles would even be subjected to analysis in the first place.

Publication points are already used as currency. Either we should completely change the system or we cannot in all fairness decide to exclude experts in supporting fields.

Some new research methodology books for librarians

review bøker bilde

My concentration is failing today, so instead of doing what I ought to do, namely reading some articles for my motivations study (oh, the irony), I am writing about some of the books I should have spent time on. It`s Friday afternoon, after all..

So, anyway..

Systematic reviews are popular with particularly the Institute for health sciences here at the university. So I thought I should really do one to gain a better understanding of the process and procedures to follow. One of the books I am looking into is a book called “Assembling the pieces of a systematic review: a guide for librarians” by Margaret J. Foster and Sarah T. Jewell (eds.). It is a very well-structured book with chapters covering everything step-by-step from what a systematic review is to summarising. The main points, such as asking good questions, designing a search strategy etc seems very well explained, and in orderly charts and tables, just as we librarians like it.

The next book I am going to dive into is “Systematic approaches to a successful literature review” (2nd ed.) by Andrew Booth, Anthea Sutton and Diana Papaioannou. This book is covering much of the same (of course), but does not look at it from a librarian`s point of view, but rather the scholars. It`ll be interesting to compare them.

The final book is one that I am embarrased to say have been on my desk for at least two months without being opened. It is not one of those books you read from A-Z, but rather a book to dive into when needed. It`s called: “Research methods in Library and Information Science” (6th ed) by Lynn S. Connaway and Marie L. Radford. I am particularly interested in the parts on grounded theory since I am looking into doing a study using that methodology, but I`ll certainly also be looking at their chapter on ethnographic approaces to qualitative data, which I find very interesting.

But before I really sink my teeth into any of these, I am going to have a weekend off, I think. Perhaps it will make me ready for articles on motivation on Monday morning. Have a nice weekend!

Service provider or academic partner: Where to draw the line?

jente sandstrand

Drawing a line?

I have long wanted to write something about the contributions from academic librarians in research projects. First, I wanted to wait until the term was over because I wanted time to think about this, and then I waited because I wanted to find the right words. I wanted to get this right, because this is important to me. Today, I am writing this even though I could have thought some more or found better words.

I have worked in academic libraries for 15 years. During that time, I have changed and the libraries I have worked in has changed along with the institutions they have served. Perhaps even more interesting is that the role of the librarians have changed, too. A few lines of explanation is perhaps needed. (I`ll get to the point, I promise..) I said that I have changed. Yes, I have changed in many ways, but professionally the most significant change has been that I have changed my focus. When I started 15 years ago, my focus was always “Whats in it for my library”. I was very library centric. I wanted a good budget for the library because I wanted freedom to build a good collection, nice furniture etc. (I was a school librarian back then, btw.) After working in a school library, in a ministry library and in a university library, my focus has shifted. I still want the library to have a good budget, but not for the librarys sake – for the patrons. I want a good budget so that we can provide services and academic support to enhance learning and research. I think I have also learned the value of evidence-based practice in libraries. It is important that we have solid research as well as user experience and our own experience and bring this together to build good library practice. It may not seem as a very significant change on paper (or blog), but for me it has changed the way I work. The libraries have changed, too. From being mainly a document provider and a more distant partner (delivery-on-demand) for students, the digitalisation and research support needs have made it possible and necessary to provide new services and to see our roles in a new light.

There are plenty of articles, book chapters etc. that discuss the roles of academic librarians. I am not going to list everything that I have, but see my article on library-faculty collaboration to get an idea (Øvern, 2014). The main point I want to make here and now, though, is that library-faculty collaboration is often problematic because of the skewed power relation between the parties. The librarians know that the route to the students goes via their teachers, and we are desperate to find a way in to the classrooms. Therefore, we usually not only obey our masters` first whistle, but even assume almost doglike admiration for the teachers that see our contributions as something worth “sacrificing valuable class time” (yes, that is a direct quote, but I`ll not give the source) for. (OK. Maybe I exaggerated a little, but then again, maybe I didn`t.) It doesn`t help that we are so trained as service providers, that we find it extremely hard to just say no to people. This way, I think we also often are stuck in unproductive “collaborations”, because we are afraid that if we protest or suggest very different models for teaching, the teachers will stop asking us to contribute all together. But if we never suggest what to us may seem as better ideas, then they will never see our potential as real academic partners either. Librarians generally know more about the faculty than vice versa, an assymetry that both groups are aware of, but only the librarians find problematic (Christiansen, Strombler & Thaxton, 2004, p.117). And as Ekstrand and Seebass (2009) found: librarians are regarded as excellent (service) parners, but that is not the same as seeing them as valuable academic parners (p. 84). Librarians are not integrated in study programmes and often forgotten in planning sessions.

These power relations become even more problematic when it comes to research support. I have several times been asked to help with literature searching etc. in research projects. Once or twice only, have I been told that I will get co-authorship for my efforts. Once or twice. Of course, I wouldn`t dream of demanding co-authorship if my only contribution to the project would be something like suggesting appropriate databases or handing over some search terms that could useful or something like that. But where do I draw the line? When does it become acceptable for me to say, I can do that, but only if I am listed as a co-author?

This is an example (not from reality, but quite close):
Two faculty members, one of whom were also connected to another university, asked me if I could provide support for them for a systematic review. When I asked what kind of support they were looking for it was clear that it is more than just suggesting search strings and doing a few introductory searches in some databases. It was much more than that. Basically, they wanted me to set up tables, do the searches and use a flow chart. In a systematic review, the design of searches, and getting it right in all the databases as well as putting it into tables and flowcharts represents a lot of work. It would be like building the foundation of a house. Yet, I was not offered co-authorship. I asked them a few more questions on their deadlines etc., but before I had received answers and decided to muster up the strength to ask for co-authorship, they informed me that they had found another librarian (from the other university) to do the job.

It seems there is always somebody who is ready to answer when they hear the whistle. Why it was so important for me to get co-authorship? The contribution would have been the same whether my name was on it or not. Yes, but if I could have had my name on it, then I could have sacrificed the very little R&D time I have to my disposal without having to postpone my qualifications programme. If I am to succeed with this, then the little time I have to produce some new knowledge will have to be put to good use. Egotistic? Sure. But for the faculty involved it wouldn`t have mattered as much to share that research point (Norwegian measurement system), but for me it was important. Again – the power relations are not balanced.

So – what should I do? What should WE as a profession do? Is it ok that faculty get a “yes” from somebody else if they get a “no” from me? When should I say no? When should I demand co-authorship? Why is there no guideline for these partnerships?

Where do I draw the line? (Seriously, I`m asking.)


NOTE: This blog entry was not written to, in any way, suggest that faculty is in the habit of exploiting librarians or are trying to belittle me or my contribution. This is not my experience. I have many working collaborations with excellent faculty members that are productive, constructive and interesting. Even in the example I mentioned above, I don`t think that this was done by malice or as an attempt to put me in my place, but rather as a pragmatic way to get the help they wanted as quickly and efficiently as possible. This blog entry was written to emphasise the sometimes problematic situations that arises from the skewed power relations between faculty and librarians, and I have no other agenda than to share my experience with this, and to hope for better guidelines. It is not my intention to offend either faculty or librarians, and I hope therefore that any lack of clarity of thought or words will be forgiven.


References:

Christiansen, L., Stombler, M., & Thaxton, L. (2004). A Report on Librarian-Faculty Relations from a Sociological Perspective. The journal of academic librarianship, 30(2), 116-121. doi:DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2004.01.003

Ekstrand, B., Seebass, G. (2009). Integrativ informationskompetens: Diskursöverbryggande samarbete mellan akademi och bibliotek. In B. Hansson, A. Lyngfeldt (Ed.), Pedagogiskt arbete i teori och praktik (pp. 83-101). Lund: BTJ Förlag.

Øvern, K. M. (2014). Faculty-library collaboration: two pedagogical approaches. Journal of Information Literacy, 8(2), 36-55. doi:http://dx.doi.orghttp://dx.doi.org/10.11645/8.2.1910

Research projects

research booksI am sorry to say that I hardly know any librarians here in Norway who have dedicated research hours. Most of the few who do are enrolled in PhD or similar programs. Even in “University Librarian” positions there is no rule as to being able to do research work within office hours. I have been very lucky here to have a manager who encourages me to do research projects and to write about them. Of course, I often use my non-office hours, too (otherwise I wouldn`t be able to get anything else done at work), but I wish that these research activities were seen as something more than an activity that we add on top of everything else. I wish that engaging in more research were regarded as a necessary and interesting part of any academic librarian position. Last year I wrote an article about information skills in higher education (no – in UNIPED) and this year I wrote about faculty-library collaboration (en – in Journal of Information Literacy). Gathering the data for these projects and (particularly) working with the editors of these journals has been very instructive and I feel like I have learned a lot. I don`t think I had truly understood the writing process until I started working on this latest article. I hope that I`ll get more chances to do these kinds of projects. I loved it!

I doubt there will be more blog posts before Christmas now, so I`ll take this opportunity to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Librarians – research support or research partners?

To say that the research activity at GUC has increased is a gross understatement. From 2004 to 2012 we went from having 8,2 publication points (1) to 88,6 points. In that time we have also gotten our own PhD programme and PhD research positions as well as grants for faculty staff members who want to get their PhDs at others institutions.

So – what about the librarians` role? Are we still just research support staff – a person you can call when you need a little help with your reference manager or to dig up a copy of some ancient journal article? OR do we see a new role emerging..?

Several librarians I have talked to lately has spoken about their competence in seaching, finding, evaluating sources and documentation now being sought for something more than “support”. Mariann Mathiesen, a librarian at the Norwegian knowledge center for health services, was part of a research team. Not only did she give advice about knowledge organisation subjects, but she actually did the systematic searches involved in the study that the team was working on, and Mathiesen was made co-author of the study. (Btw, read her excellent, award-winning Master`s thesis – if you read Norwegian..) Is this the way of the future? Can we become valued partners in research teams?

Of course, there are some questions:

  • Resources: Do libraries have the resources to let their librarians engage in research teams?
  • Skills: Do all librarians have the necessary skills to do the job properly?
  • Interest: Are librarians interested in these kinds of tasks?
  • Interprofessional knowledge: Do researchers know that they can ask librarians about these issues?
  • Will: Do the researcher want to engage librarians – as equal partners?

I think it very likely that some research teams here at GUC could have had good use of the librarians` expertise in knowledge organisation, and I (personally) would be very interested in participating in such a team (as a partner), but I also think that I would have to learn by doing, and that I would be a little anxious about not getting it right the first time (Control freak= me). I have talked about Embedded librarianship before, and I still very much believe that we need to be better integrated in the academic environment at our institutions. Being true research partners in teams would certainly be a step in the right direction here.

I read the article “Librarians as Partners: Moving from Research Supporters to Research Partners” by Monroe-Gulick, O`Brian and White(2013)  today – and the article served as inspiration for this blog post. Although the article didn`t really provide me with much new information, I think the fact that it is being discussed at all is interesting. And then again — it seems like we (meaning the library profession) is moving in very different directions. On one hand we are to be “learning centres”, focussing our efforts on our students and to provide them with the academic writing skills they need as well as more traditional services like access to information. On the other hand we need to be/ want to be partners in research teams. These are interesting times to be a librarian. I think that we`ll see more of this professional developments and that we are moving towards a less unified perception on what a librarian is. There will probably be no such thing as “core competensies” to all librarians in a while. We will be “research librarians”, “teaching librarians”, “digital service librarians” etc. and probably have less in common than we do now. The questions are: How do we handle the transition? Are we willing to live with the consequences of our choices?

Well – these were just a few musings (and rants) on a Thursday afternoon. And now– coffee!

Monroe-Gulick, A., O`Brian, M.S., and White, G. (2013). Librarians as Partners: Moving from Research Supporters to Research Partners (online) URL: http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/conferences/confsandpreconfs/2013/papers/GulickOBrienWhite_Librarians.pdf (25.04.2013).

(1) Here in Norway there is a system of awarding publication points for different types of research publications. The institutions then receive monetary support according to publication points achieved.

Visiting LSE – part 2

The LSE library

The LSE library

LSE Library

LSE library

As I said in part 1 – last week I visited London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) where I met a set of dedicated and interesting people who all had something to share.

I was at LSE to hear more about what they do to teach information skills, and about ANCIL (“A new curriculum for information literacy”). Dr Jane Secker talked about ANCIL and how they spent time discussing what information literacy (IL) is and what they should call it. This didn`t surprise me at all. As I think I have said before on this blog – in my mind there is no real way of finding out what IL is, because there is no “it”. Some see it as a set of generic skills and others see it as a process to do with lifelong learning, and some say information literacy to describe finding and evaluating research results. Jane told me that in the beginning of their work with ANCIL, they had discussed the focus of information literacy, and what it should contain. Some had a very narrow view of this, and thought it was mostly about technology (and perhaps wanted to call it “digital literacy”), while others thought of it as a more holistic approach to finding and evaluating information. ANCIL is described at their blog and in more detail in Jane Secker and Emma Coonan`s new book, “Rethinking information literacy”. In short, the authors have made a model of 10 so-called “strands” (transition to higher education, becoming an independent learner, academic literacies, mapping the information landscape, resource discovery in your discipline, managing information, ethical dimension of information, presenting and communicating, synthesis and knowledge creation, and social dimension of information). The strands all start with the learner at the core and go through key skills, subject context, advanced information-handling and learning to learn. It`s an interesting model, and I look forward to reading more about each strand in the new book.

One of the things I found very interesting is how the LSE library is working to support the researchers. I had a very interesting talk with Natalia Madjarevic on how the LSE institutional repository works, her work on bibliometrics and the library`s new pilot project (to come) on data management for researchers. This is something of great importance, and I hope that they publish something on it later. How do researchers store their data? In the cloud? On their laptops? What happens to the raw data? I should ask about this here at GUC, too. Maybe we need to think about setting up a better solution for safe storage of data, or at least talk about it to our researchers to make sure that they have thought about how they manage their data sets?

Natalia also told me about how they have started using Summon as their library catalogue (for end-users), and how they have started teaching Summon to undergraduates, in stead of trying to get them to search all the various databases separate. This discussion on discovery tools is interesting – on the one hand those who say that teaching the students how to use a discovery tool is easier, they get better, more relevant results, and the librarians can spend more time on the more specialised search “needs”, and on the other hand there are those who say that discovery tools are just a fad, and that adding a layer is doing nothing for the students (and that Google Scholar does it better for free anyway..). LSE has bought Summon for a year and is now testing it.

Another thing Natalia talked about that I found interesting, was the way the LSE library works with bibliometrics. The librarians are sometimes asked to perform analysis, and they use Publish or perish for this. Analysis could include finding out how many citations an LSE researcher have gotten compared to other researchers in the same field, for example. This takes time and effort, but it is interesting for the school to compare themselves to similar institutions. The LSE library also have training sessions on bibliometrics for researchers. Hmmm… something to think about..

More from my visit to LSE to come in part 3.. (long days – I have plenty of notes:)

Misunderstanding methods and results?

This week, Norwegian newspapers have written much about a study claiming that the IQ levels of teachers have dropped from a 7,3 to a 6,2 on a scale from one to ten. Reading the headlines that seems dramatic. And then.. I glanced at the method the authors of the study had used..

To study the IQ points, the authors had picked objects that had been to the physical and phyciatric examination involved when entering the military who ended up as teachers. Now, during the years more girls attend these examinations (true), but the vast majority of these objects are still male. How many men work in primary school in Norway? Not that many.. The authors state that they “have reason to belive that the trend applies for women as well”. Maybe that is right (maybe this whole study is “right” for all I know), but “believing” has nothing to do with science.

Now, of course.. if our teachers appear to become “dumber” then that is a problem, and I do not disagree with the general summary, that the most talented, clever teachers choose to do something else because of the size of the paycheck they can get in schools, but it seems a little to simple for me. What about what we ask the teachers to do? How do they spend their time? I do not pretend to be a scientist, so I can therefore only say that I have it on good authority that what the teachers do nowadays is trying to keep some sort of order, deal with all the diagnosed kids (ADD, Autists etc.) and trying to tie shoes and get everyone dressed for recess. Now that seems a good reason for not becoming a teacher, if you ask me.

Studies like this, that gets more attention then they are worth annoys me. Much ado about nothing.