Sharing and communicating – a necessary addition LIS evidence based practice model

by | Dec 19, 2021 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

By Clare Thorpe

Earlier this year, Library and Information Science Research Australia held a panel discussion ‘to consider the opportunities, issues and challenges for library and information professionals in sharing and disseminating Australia’s emerging body of LIS practice-based research’. Clare Thorpe has recently expanded on her presentation in a commentary article in the journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. She summarises her thoughts about why library and information professionals should share their outcomes and results widely.

The Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP) model provides a structured approach to decision making and problem solving in workplaces. Colloquially known as “The 5As” (Koufogiannakis, 2013), it is a cyclical process that guides library and information professionals through five steps – Articulate, Assemble, Assess, Agree and Adapt. The model can be applied by individuals and in teams, providing a practical, guided approach that incorporates critical reflective practice and evidence-informed decision making. However, the model fails to explicitly identify a step to prompt the LIS practitioner to communicate their evidence based practice to their stakeholders, clients, or peers.

Figure 1: The five step EBLIP model (Koufogiannakis & Brettle, 2016, p. 14).Figure 1: The five step EBLIP model (Koufogiannakis & Brettle, 2016, p. 14)

Writing, publishing, disseminating and sharing the completed work is the final step in the research process (Hallam, 2018, p. 457). Communicating research findings is a critical and often required stage of the research process, particularly when publishing research findings is mandated by funding bodies. Crumley and Koufogiannakis (2004) argued that: 

“Dissemination of research results is vital to the progress of the profession as well as helping to improve practice. It involves not only making your research available, but also ensuring that it is accessible to others and presented in a manner that is easy to understand. (p. 127)”

They promoted communication within the library, to its parent organization, and externally to the profession via informal and formal methods of dissemination, such as conference presentations, journal clubs, scholarly publication, reports to management, and personal networking (Crumley & Koufogiannakis, 2004).
So, if EBLIP is accepted as a form of practitioner research, then it follows that communicating findings and results should be a requirement of being evidence based LIS practitioners.

Figure 2: The six step EBLIP model (Thorpe, 2021, p. 121)

Why should announcing, advocating, and communicating be made an explicit part in the EBLIP model? In my writing, I proposed four benefits that may apply to individuals, libraries, and the profession: 

  • To advocate and influence 
  • To contribute to the profession’s evidence base 
  • To demonstrate professional expertise 
  • To build organizational capacity and maturity. 

During the LISRA webinar, panellists Suzana Sukovic and Daniel McDonald also highlighted additional benefits to LIS practitioners, such as writing as a form of professional development and as a source of professional pride. 

I try to practice to what I preach and tell stories of the work that I do in my library in a range of different forums. For example, in 2021, I have published four journal articles, presented at two conferences, spoken at four webinars and now, written one blog post. Taking time to reflect on the work that I have done with colleagues over the past year, has challenged me to think about how I explain my work to different audiences and to communicate with a purpose, whether that is share findings, to advocate for my library and my team, or to influence and inspire others into action. 

In a profession that values access to information and knowledge sharing, sharing of work based projects and practitioner research should be a normal expectation and behaviour of our work. I argue that the EBLIP model would be strengthened with an explicit step that promotes actively contributing to the evidence base for the betterment of libraries and the profession.

If a generation of LIS professionals learns to engage in EBLIP without sharing and communicating their work, then criticisms of the validity of our profession’s evidence base will endure. Communicating in an evidence based way should be an explicit part of the LIS professional’s identity. 

Crumley, E., & Koufogiannakis, D. (2004). Disseminating the lessons of evidence based practice. In A. Booth & A. Brice (Eds.), Evidence-based practice for information professionals: A handbook (pp. 138–143). Facet Publishing.

Hallam, G. (2018). Being evidence based makes sense! An introduction to Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP). Bibliothek Forschung und Praxis, 42(3), 453–462. 

Koufogiannakis, D. (2013). How academic librarians use evidence in their decision making: Reconsidering the Evidence Based Practice Model [Doctoral dissertation, Aberystwyth University]. Aberystwyth Research Portal.

Koufogiannakis, D., & Brettle, A. (Eds.). (2016). Being evidence based in library and information practice. Facet Publishing.

Thorpe, C. (2021). Announcing and advocating: The missing step in the EBLIP model. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 16(4), 118–125. 

Clare Thorpe is an award-winning library leader, research-practitioner, and board director. She is Director, Library Services at Southern Cross University and serves on the Board of the Australian Library and Information Association.

1 Comment

  1. Liz Wiese

    Thank you so much for highlighting this issue. As a practitioner who worked on a specific project to develop an evidence based model of service delivery, I can look back and reflect on the factors that influenced how the outcomes, failures and findings were shared. It was an industry-funded project (not required to be research in the traditional sense, but done so by me anyway due to my past experience as a researcher), but after the project report was submitted, it can be difficult for a practitioner (i.e. not connected to an research intensive institution) to share beyond what is required for the project submission and completion. I shared the findings at a conference, and in a report, but it is difficult to keep finding support (money, org support etc) to continue looking at ways to share it beyond those traditional means. If I did this, it was completely out of my own time and money. I wonder if I had more connection to LIS researchers, I may have increased opportunities. This is important to note because the project was practitioner led which meant real accessible learnings that could be useful to other practitioners. However, practitioners don't have the same levels of support for research endeavours, let alone sharing research already done, (especially in non-academic settings like local government). Your article has inspired me to re-think again what I can do to share the results of this project – which are still relevant. Thank you.

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