Tag Archives: research

Teaching or training? My LILAC presentation

Last week I went to LILAC for the day. If you haven’t heard of LILAC before, I will briefly explain: it’s a conference about information literacy, and is mostly attended by librarians and researchers. It’s my favourite (in my very limited experience) of all the big events and conferences I’ve been to, because it’s got a very friendly atmosphere and there’s a real sense that everyone’s really happy to be there, and excited to share new things and learn from each other. I went last year as a volunteer for CILIP Y&H and loved it, so when I was accepted to present my own research there this year I was thrilled. Plus, the conference was at my alma mater Newcastle University this time round, so that made it extra special!

I’m going to talk exclusively about my presentation in this blog post, but I will also be writing one about all the other sessions I went to, so keep an eye out for that later this week.

My MA dissertation research is not something I really wrote much about on this blog, because I was stressing out about it way too much at the time. Now that a year has passed since I had to start thinking about it, I am able to talk about it with enthusiasm again! I wanted to do some research into how librarians think about themselves and their teaching. There’s loads of case studies out there about how librarians are implementing different teaching theories and techniques and devising cool new teaching interventions. “Teacher-librarians” seem to be a big thing! However, this didn’t always chime with what I was experiencing in my workplace – not all the librarians I met would call themselves teachers or say that what they were doing was teaching, let alone be doing all this innovation and stuff. I decided that I’d use my dissertation to find out more about how librarians viewed themselves and their roles within the institutions/environments they worked in.

I used phenomenographic interviews to collect the data for my research. Phenomenography is all about getting deeper into what people are saying about things, to try and uncover their conceptions of things. You end up with a collection of different ways in which people experience or think about a certain phenomenon – in this case, themselves as teachers (or not teachers), their teaching, and information literacy. I created four categories, each of which describes a conception, and which is different/distinct from the other three. The idea is that librarians might be able to identify which category they most closely match, and this might help them understand their approach to the teaching they do and possibly identify ways to help them approach it differently (for example, go to a training session about teaching, to help you feel more confident about calling yourself a teacher, to help you feel more like the equal of other teaching staff at your workplace, to help you have a more productive relationship with them).

After writing up and submitting my dissertation, my supervisor Pam encouraged me to think about publishing it or developing it further. Having been to last year’s LILAC, I really wanted to go back, and as my research is all about librarians who teach information literacy, it was a good fit. As is now obvious, my application was accepted and I was invited to give a 20 minute talk at this year’s conference. Hooray!

The talk went really well – about 50 people watched! – and I was delighted by the number of people who came up afterwards to tell me and Pam how interesting they thought it was. It’s nice to think that my work is actually interesting to other people and not just me!

Lots of people have asked whether they can read my research. My dissertation will be published on Sheffield’s archive at some point soon (not sure exactly when). We are also submitting an edited version to a journal, so if/when it is accepted and published I will share that online as well. In the meantime, if you’d like to get a copy of my dissertation, you are very welcome to contact me and ask for it. I’ve also put my presentation on Slideshare and embedded it at the end of this post; if you want to see what I said on the day, view the presentation notes on the Slideshare website here – just scroll down under the presentation and click notes (circled in red in the screenshot below). Enjoy!

slideshare notes



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EndNote Tips, Part 2

I learned something new about EndNote again yesterday and wanted to share it. At this rate, I’m going to have to make this a regular series: “things I didn’t know you could do with EndNote”.

Yesterday I met a PhD student who’d asked me to help her out as she was having trouble getting started with EndNote. After we went through the basics, she asked if there was a way of creating a reference list in Word without having to insert EndNote citations throughout her text – as she’d already written most of her thesis and didn’t want to have to go back over the whole thing to sort out the citations. I had no idea whether you could do this or not but found two different solutions, one of which is perfect for her situation.

Solution 1) Make sure you’ve got all your references ready in your EndNote library. Make sure the Output Style is the one you want to use. Select all the references you want to use for your reference list. Right-click on the selected references and choose “Copy Formatted”. Open up your Word document and paste in the reference list. Voila! The reference list is inserted as plain text, so if there are any errors you have to delete the reference, change it in EndNote and copy and paste it all over again. This solution was perfect for my student, who didn’t have time to do what I probably would have done, which would be inserting EndNote citations throughout each chapter and then cutting and pasting the automatically generated references into a separate document. This solution would also be useful for people who want to create an annotated bibliography and have already got all the references in EndNote.

Solution 2) This is slightly different, and is more useful for people who are creating bibliographies at the end of a document, and want to include references for things they haven’t cited in their text. Go to the end of your text and insert a citation for the item you want to include. Right-click on the citation and select “Show Only in Bibliography”. It’s as easy as that! The citation will disappear, but the reference will stay in your reference list. If you have to do it for multiple items, it’s easiest to choose “Edit and Manage Citations” from the EndNote tab on the Word ribbon. Then, you need to select each citation in turn from the list in the box that appears, and choose “Show Only in Bibliography” from the Formatting drop-down menu for each citation. Once you’ve done them all, press OK and your citations should all disappear.

Endnote screengrabLike my previous post about EndNote, I’m sure this isn’t a new tip for everyone! However, it’s something I’ve not come across before and it might be helpful to others out there who are struggling to wade through the EndNote manual.

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EndNote tips

Last week I got to do my first proper bit of advising in my new role as a Research Support Advisor. A student came to us with a complicated EndNote query and it was my job to try to work out what to do. I’m not a frequent EndNote user – I chose to use Mendeley to manage my references during my MA – and I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means. Between us we created a sort of work-around before later discovering that we’d approached the situation all wrong. It took me so long to work out what we were supposed to have done that I’m going to share what I learned so that other people in my position can save themselves a bit of time!

Problem 1: I want to cite a book several times and have the page numbers for each citation appear in separate references in my footnotes.

The student was using the MHRA (Footnote) style and was having trouble making page numbers display in his footnotes. He also wanted each citation to refer to a separate footnote, as he was citing a different page from a book each time. My very first thought was that his footnotes looked a bit weird; I should have stuck with that thought because it turned out to be very important. However, I couldn’t put my finger on the problem, so instead we ploughed on with what we thought was going on. First of all, I suggested creating records for different book sections/pages in the EndNote library, and putting in the page numbers for each section, then citing each one in the document. This would create a separate footnote for each citation, with the page numbers displayed, like the student wanted. We also worked out how to make the citations themselves display page numbers in the body of the text, by editing the “unformatted citations” (the text that talks to EndNote which is hidden behind what you see on the page – your citation might be a superscript number like this: 1  while the unformatted or temporary citation actually says this: {Burton-Roberts, 2010 #4@56}). The trick is to put “@x”, where x is the page number, at the end of your unformatted citation. The style you’re working in has to be configured to display the page number, but most of them are set up for this.

HOWEVER. Although we’d managed to find a sort of solution, all of the things we did seemed a bit… wrong, somehow. Surely there was an easier way of doing this – numbered referencing is quite common! It took me a good half-hour of reading around various guides before I worked out what the actual problem was – and this is what I had noticed but not realised yesterday. The student’s “footnotes” were actually the reference list, or bibliography, which comes at the end of your document and lists all the sources you’ve read and/or cited. To insert actual footnotes into a Word document you have to do an extra step compared to what you’d do for a style like Harvard.

For Harvard, you can click “insert citation” on the EndNote tab in Word, and you’ll get an in-text citation looking like this: (Burton-Roberts, 2010) as well as a full reference in your reference list/bibliography at the end of your document.

When you’re using a footnote style, you need to create the footnote using Word first, and then use EndNote to link it to the source you’re citing. First, with your cursor in the text where you want the first citation to be, click the References tab in Word, then click Insert Footnote. Then click into the footnote itself, which has appeared at the bottom of the page. Now go into the EndNote tab and click Insert Citation. Once you’ve chosen the item you’re citing, the information will appear in the footnote. You can make the footnote display a page number by editing the unformatted citation (click Convert Citations and Bibliography, click Convert to Unformatted Citations, add @x to the relevant citation). Once you click Update Citations and Bibliography, the page number will display in your footnote. If you also want the page number in the text, the easiest thing to do is just to type it in in the correct place, e.g. blah blah1 (p. 56).

I’ve never used footnotes before, so this was all brand-new information to me. I’m glad I’ve worked out the “official” way to do it, as I’m sure this is a query that I’ll come across again in the future!

Problem 2: The first citation in my text is numbered “4” instead of “1”, and the next one is numbered “2”.

This stumped me for a while. When we searched on Google all the answers pointed to formatting errors caused by deleting citations or copy-and-pasting, but neither of these applied to this student’s document. Finally I spotted that the authors in his reference list were listed in alphabetical order, rather than in the order they appeared in the text. This turns out to be quite straightforward to sort out – you need to go into the EndNote program itself and edit the style. Click Edit, then Output Styles, then choose the one you want to edit. When you’re inside the style template, find Sort Order in the Bibliography section, and choose the appropriate order (e.g. Order of appearance or Author + Year + Title).

I’ve edited styles in Mendeley before, so this was sort of familiar to me, but it was good to get the chance to actually have a go in EndNote. It was also good to be able to solve a student’s problem – that’s one of my favourite parts of working in libraries!

Although most of our students use an EndNote style specifically created by the University (and therefore won’t need to mess about with formatting), some don’t (like the student I helped the other day), and neither do researchers writing articles for publication in journals. I’m more confident in my ability to help these types of people now that I’ve dealt with this query and learned a bit more about how EndNote works.


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Open Access for the Humanities

During my first week at my new job, my team hosted an event called “Open Access for the Humanities” in conjunction with SPARC Europe. It was a free event, open to anyone who was interested, and consisted of four talks – two by OA publishers, and two by researchers from the University, giving their perspective on OA.

The first speaker was Frances Pinter who, as well as being the CEO of Manchester University Press, is also the Executive Director of Knowledge Unlatched, a project which sounds a bit like Kickstarter for publishing. Essentially, the idea is that academic libraries each pledge some money to make a book OA. If enough libraries pledge, then the book is “unlatched” and will be published OA (or made OA if it has already been published). The more libraries who participate, the less they each have to pay, as the cost to publish each book (the Title Fee) is a fixed sum decided by the publisher. The pilot project involved a package deal where libraries pledged to pay for publishing a set of 28 books, spanning a range of subjects. It was a success; 297 libraries participated, and ended up paying less than $50 per book. I like the idea, especially given that OA for books is something that really needs work, but I’m not sure if scaling up to larger book collections would go down as well – libraries still have to pay for the ebook licenses for non-OA textbooks and don’t have unlimited resources. This interview with Frances on Semantico.com explains more about KU and addresses some of the scaling-up issues.

Something else that was quite interesting was the collection of author interviews on the KU website: they give a good snapshot of the attitudes that authors in the humanities have towards OA publishing.

After Frances, we heard from Brian Hole, the CEO of Ubiquity Press. UP enable authors to publish their work for much lower fees than those that the large publishers charge. You can publish in one of their OA journals, or you can set up your own; they provide the support for universities or libraries who want to set up a press or a journal but haven’t got the resources in-house. They’ve got a large peer review database which is shared between all the journals, so their publications are held to the same rigorous standards as other, more established, journals (fighting the perception of OA as inferior quality). You can also publish books or other types of research – Brian said they’ll publish anything, including research data, software and wetware (I think he meant cyberware), but I haven’t been able to find any unusual examples on their website.

UP’s aim is to make OA publishing affordable and sustainable for everyone, so they offer a range of options to reduce costs, for example fee waivers or simple file hosting (without editorial support etc) for institutions in developing countries. I really like this as it gives everyone a chance to make their research visible without having to go through the expensive traditional routes.

The two Leeds authors who presented at the event gave their own takes on OA publishing and what it means for them. Malcolm Heath spoke about the tension between the author as a publisher, and the author as an author, two personas which can often want quite different things. Alaric Hall then illustrated some of the benefits of OA using examples from his own career; he got a job based on the fact that his interviewer had been able to access and read one of his recent publications, and he built new international research partnerships thanks to his work being freely discoverable online. He also mentioned how he uses Wikipedia as a pre-publication research space, reading, editing and creating articles relevant to his research, and collaborating with other editors to improve the information. It was good to hear an academic being positive about Wikipedia for once!

Overall the event was really interesting and I enjoyed hearing about initiatives that go beyond green vs. gold. I was also very happy to go away with some post-it notes, a pen and a lovely sticker which is now on my notebook.

SPARC Europe are hosting four more OA events before Christmas, in London, Coventry and Scotland. See here for more details.

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