By Kelly Hangauer
In June 2022, I joined twenty-seven academic librarians across the U.S. for a 2-week online workshop as part of the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship. IRDL was initiated in 2014 to address the lack of social science training among librarians and to bring more rigor to library and information science research. The workshop kicked off a year-long process that will guide us as we refine our proposals, go through the IRB process, recruit participants for our study, carry out the study, analyze data, write, and publish our findings in some form. In addition to the IRDL community of scholars, I will meet regularly with a mentor who previously attended IRDL.
This was the first time that IRDL was held fully online and they did an excellent job of designing the workshop to create a meaningful learning experience. Our online course content was flawless, directions were clear, and the organizers were both knowledgeable and approachable throughout. They also made the experience feel special. For example, before the two-week workshop, we were sent a number of items through the mail: Sage research methods books, treat bags, and snacks of our choosing from SnackMagic. Each day of the workshop, I tried something tantalizingly new as I pored over the readings: water lily pops, plantain chips, dill pickle pretzels, Za’atar popcorn, Hawaiian teriyaki plant-based jerky, and cardamom and black tea sparkling water. The online format was designed to optimize community-building. We were provided plenty of opportunities to get to know one another through morning chats, breakout rooms, and a peer-support space in Zoom. There was also a light-hearted spirit of competition as scholars sought to win all sorts of badges. At the very end of the two weeks, each scholar shared an elevator pitch of the current status of their research and received constructive feedback. The general spirit of the workshop was supportive and fun.
The workshop was also extremely informative. Our daily readings were elaborated upon by the presenters, Greg Guest and Lili Luo, who provided us keen insight into different methodologies. After the lectures, we went into breakout rooms and directly applied what we had learned. The most valuable part of the day, however, were the one-on-one meetings with librarians and research experts. The feedback I received was invaluable and helped me establish objectives, refine my research questions, and determine the best methodological approaches to use.
My research project will explore creativity in the research process among post-comp PhD students in the social sciences and humanities (if you want more details, please feel free to reach out). At this moment, I am refining my proposal by updating my literature review and developing my interview guide. The interdisciplinary nature of my topic has compelled me to become familiar with a wide swath of literature (including psychology of creativity, psychometrics, phenomenology, humanistic psychology, doctoral research journeys, and the library literature regarding creativity and the research process). Based on what I learned during the workshop, I plan to use purposive stratified sampling to conduct semi-structured in-depth interviews and then use thematic analysis to inductively code the transcripts. By being attentive to both the creativity literature and library literature, my goal is to conduct a study that engages with both and bridges the gap between them. Carrying out this research project will deepen my understanding of social science research and make me a more effective librarian to my liaison areas. I am incredibly grateful for the support of my UI colleagues, and I look forward to learning and growing with my research over the next year and beyond.