Sharing practitioner-research: How can ALIA help?

by | Sep 4, 2021 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Earlier this week, LISRA organised 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’. Four panelists started with their statements to open discussions. One of them was Andrew Finegan from ALIA who summarised his opening statement for LARK. A full recording is available from the LISRA event page.

By Andrew Finegan

As a professional association, one of ALIA’s core activities is to support research and publications that inform its members and the library and information sector.

One way that ALIA does this is through the production of the Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, or JALIA. Produced quarterly, JALIA presents research and research-in-practice articles which are subjected to a double-blind peer review process.
ALIA’s agreement with JALIA’s publisher allows authors to make their research publicly available through their institutional repository, with zero embargo – through what is commonly known as Green open access. As this content would otherwise only be immediately accessible through subscriptions, we encourage those who publish their work in JALIA to also take this opportunity.
Indeed, it should be noted that this does place the responsibility of access onto the author, with the expectation that the author does the work in preparing and uploading their research onto their institutional repository. University libraries make a valuable contribution to the research community by supporting academics through this process.
Of course, not everybody who has their research published in JALIA has access to an institutional repository, with many authors coming from school, public, state, territory and national libraries. This in itself can create a barrier to access, as there is no obvious place for them to upload their Green open access version.
Fortunately, ALIA manages its own repository, ALIA Library, where research content such as conference papers, reports and discussion papers are held. ALIA can work with these authors to make their JALIA-published research available as green open access.
However, we also need to think beyond the formal research journal as the only way to engage practitioners with research. The reality is that there are library professionals who, for whatever reasons, do not actively engage with research that is published in this format.
ALIA provides numerous opportunities to engage with different audiences with LIS research, through different channels:
This past year has also seen an increase in webinar discussions which have created new opportunities to engage large audiences online.
Of course, to engage effectively with different audiences, it is so important to understand how the tone and style of your communication needs to be adjusted to best connect with that audience – especially with practitioners who may not be actively engaged with an academic style.
As with any communications, you should first and foremost think about your audience. There is a very specific style that you’re expected to use to engage with an academic audience. However, for a non-academic audience, this can be much more fluid, and you need to be ready to adapt your tone for each context, and craft your message to be specifically relevant to their interests and sector. This is an art that is best be developed through active engagement, and so I’d certainly encourage LIS researchers to explore these different spaces.
Communications, ultimately, is a call to action, and researchers have the opportunity to connect with practitioners in their own language and in the spaces where they are engaged, to both inform and challenge them to continue to develop their professional practice, with a robust evidence base.

Andrew Finegan is ALIA Communications Manager


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