Revisiting Relevance 2020 – What Next for LIS Research in Australia?

by | Sep 6, 2022 | LARK Symposium 2022 | 0 comments

By Professor Lisa M. Given

More than five years ago, the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) published a report documenting outcomes of a series of research meetings held in 2016. Working in partnership with Charles Sturt University (where I was Professor at the time), ALIA’s Relevance 2020 series set out to explore the state of library and information science (LIS) research across the country. Many universities served as hosts for the events, which attracted 172 participants from across the sector.

The report found:

Seven barriers to research and collaboration (between LIS researchers and practitioners): awareness and perception; connection and relationship; funding; passion and enthusiasm; research culture and support; research expertise; shared understanding and interest

37 enablers for research and collaboration, including: funding; time; mentoring; research training; institutional support

And the report included four recommendations:

Libraries and librarians should change the perception of their roles to include research as part of their role specification. This would be a powerful catalyst for a more dynamic, evidence-based profession.

LIS schools and academics should be active players in fostering collaboration between academia and practice. Applied research should not be regarded as less important than research of a more theoretical nature.

More consideration might be given by LIS academics to some of the priority areas for their practitioner counterparts, such as information services and the promotion of these services.

ALIA should continue to play a role that bridges the gap between academic and practitioner needs. Consideration should be given to a central database of research ideas and experts, and to strategically providing further funding opportunities to members.

At the time, Professor Helen Partridge and I had just embarked on our “LISRA” Project – an Australian Research Council Linkage Project (Assessing Library and Information Studies Research Networks), in partnership with ALIA and National and State Libraries Australasia (NSLA). The project was designed to encourage and enable research culture and practice within the LIS profession in Australia. As part of LISRA, we launched the Research Assistance and Development for Australian Researchers (RADAR) program. RADAR provided small-scale funding to support collaborative teams of LIS researchers and practitioners to come together for a 12-month period to design and implement a study to provide an evidence-base for potential change within the sector. 

Little did Helen and I know when we first designed, applied for, and received the ARC Linkage funding that so many of our proposed activities would echo and resonate with the issues discussed at Relevance 2020. We have learned so much about the library and information research landscape in Australia, including the supports and enablers that can help collaborative teams to succeed.

Do you want to learn more about the RADAR project and what we learned through this important work? I will be sharing some of the lessons learned at the LARK Symposium 2022 in Sydney later this month. Details on the event and the link to register can be found at I hope to see you there!


Nguyen, L. 2017. Relevance 2020: LIS Research in Australia. ALIA: Canberra. Available at: 

Professor Lisa M. Given
Director, Social Change Enabling Capability Platform & Professor of Information Sciences
RMIT University
Twitter: @lisagiven 


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