Developing Research Excellence and Methods: DREAM

Lead Research Organisation: Edinburgh Napier University
Department Name: Computing


The central theme of this project is Library and Information Science (LIS) research. Currently this research area faces a number of challenges. For example, there are concerns about:

(1) the quality and standing of LIS research in the UK;
(2) the limited range of research methodologies and techniques deployed in LIS research;
(3) the lack of imagination displayed by LIS researchers and their reluctance to interact effectively with researchers in other fields;
(4) the failure of current research endeavours to feed into practice, policy development and inform future research strategy and investment;
(5) the lack of an evidence base on which the value and impact of library and information services can be assessed

In addition, the research community in LIS is somewhat fragmented so opportunities for new knowledge creation at the boundaries of the professional groupings are few.

The formation of the Library and Information Science (LIS) Research Coalition ( in 2009 was a response to these concerns. The LIS Research Coalition is partnering with Edinburgh Napier University in this project. The partners will bring together LIS researchers from academia and practitioner communities to address the challenges listed above. Over the course of 20 months a number of events focused on LIS research will take place in London and Edinburgh. These will involve the participation of research experts from the UK and abroad as speakers and session facilitators. At the same time an online resource will be built to support the project. In doing so, it is anticipated that the project will meet its aims of: (1) bringing LIS researchers from range of backgrounds together in a new sustainable network with researchers from related disciplines to share and explore good practice and experience regarding appropriate methodologies and techniques for undertaking LIS research and (2) addressing current challenges facing LIS research in the UK such as: building capacity and capability in the development and implementation of innovative methodologies/techniques in undertaking LIS research; raising the quality and standards of research training and practice in LIS; establishing a foundation for long-term research collaborations across LIS and related sectors; enhancing the value and impact of LIS research output with particular reference to policy development, improved services provision, and the informing of future LIS research agendas for investment.

Within these aims, key objectives are:

(1) To develop a formal UK-wide network of LIS researchers to help spread expertise into a connected practitioner community across all LIS sectors through high quality training and opportunities for knowledge exchange;
(2) To support researchers and practitioners in identifying and deploying the best research methods;
(3) To raise understanding amongst researchers and practitioners of research methods new to them;
(4) To develop strategies to meet the challenges facing the LIS research community.

The long-term benefits of this project relate to library and information services provision across all library sectors - public, academic and special. A body of talented and skilled LIS researchers will be better placed to investigate means of improving library and information services in the UK, and translating these findings into practice. Equally those who devise policy on library and information services will be able to access a body of knowledge that will help them in their funding decisions, both in terms of developing services and commissioning further research.

Planned Impact

The main beneficiaries from the project will be academic LIS researchers (including research fellows and doctoral students) and practitioner researchers, both experienced and inexperienced. They will be exposed to a new range of skills and contacts that they can use in their work. Given the structure of the project, it is these direct beneficiaries who will first experience the positive outcomes of the project.

Library end-users across all sectors are indirect beneficiaries of the project. In short, they will benefit from improvements in library and information services provision that result from changes made on the basis of a sound evidence base derived from research output. Equally, those responsible for policy making will be able to draw on the new resources that are generated by the larger pool of skilled LIS researchers. So, for example, DCMS will have access to an evidence base for decisions on public library services provision, and the AHRC will have a clearer picture of where LIS research priorities lie with reference to its broad research agenda.

It is also possible to argue that society at large benefits from a project of this nature in that targeted effort that goes into supporting key public services, such as public libraries, enhances the environment in which we work and live. There are therefore potential benefits to the quality of life of ordinary citizens. In the future it may be possible to tie specific positive outcomes back to research projects, the seeds of which were sown at one of the DREAM events.

Involvement of international participants in the programme gives an opportunity to strengthen links with LIS research colleagues beyond the UK, and demonstrate an excellence in the UK's commitment to LIS research.

It will be possible to measure some of the project outcomes within the timeframe of the project itself. For example, it will be relatively straightforward to assess the perceptions of the extent of growth in research skills amongst practitioner researcher participants at DREAM events. The value of other outcomes will become evident at a later date. For example, if the project is successful in fostering a research culture amongst LIS practitioners, it is reasonable to expect to see a larger proportion of journal submissions by this constituency. However, given the time lag between accessing resources to start a research project and the approval of a paper for publication, it is unlikely that this will be seen within the 20 month time-frame of the DREAM project.

To ensure the project and its outcomes has as wide an impact as possible, arrangements have been made to use multiple channels for both the coordination of activities and the dissemination of results. The project itself will have an online presence that will offer more than a standard repository for project material. For example, it will include a Ning to foster collaboration online, and podcast and videocast material from the workshops will be accessible from the site. Hazel Hall has experience of managing online environments such as this for collaborative work purposes and is therefore positioned to capitalise on the investment made in the online resource. More traditional project outputs have been identified, such as journal articles and conference papers. Depending on the materials gathered in the course of the project some material may be suitable for publication in book form.


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Description This grant supports a research networking project, the main goal of which is to develop a formal UK-wide network of Library and Information Science (LIS) researchers.
Exploitation Route The value of the research in a non-academic context is that by strengthening the links between research and practice in library and information science, those who deliver library and information services will have easier access to current research and be better informed when making decisions about services delivery.
Sectors Other

Description This award was a network grant so did not generate 'findings' as such. However, we are aware that a number of those who participated in the network created for the project (the main aim of which was to develop a formal UK-wide network of Library and Information Science (LIS) researchers in 2011/12 ;) have become more active researchers as a result of their engagement in the project.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare
Description Changes to the delivery and reporting of professional events in the domain
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Several professional events in the domain have adopted the practices used around the DREaM project to ensure effective delivery of training and ensure a wide reach, e.g. participatory activities such as one minute madness and unconference half hour slots, use of speakers from beyond the domain to teach research methods not commonly used in LIS, extensive use of social media both at, and around, events.
Description Creation of a loose, but persistent, network
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact For example: 12 active collaborators on 37 initiatives recorded in 3 year period after project end.
Description Dissemination of relevant, high priority research output to inform policy, determine information services provision, and develop the future library and information science research agenda
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Contributions to range of themes including information literacy, health, cultural heritage, data protection, economics, education, employability, law, politics, social justice. (87 research outputs identified in impact study completed in summer 2015.)
Description Enhanced possibilities for exploration of avenues for new research initiatives
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Career development: e.g. 17 (53%) of project participants changed roles by 2015 (3 years after project end), and 11 of these were influenced by participation in DREaM, participants more ambitious in work environment - applying for senior roles, writing research bids independently.
Description Implementation of new and innovative research methods/techniques in work-place environments
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact Improved participation levels in discourse around research
Description Edinburgh Napier University summer internship scheme
Amount £3,057 (GBP)
Organisation Edinburgh Napier University 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 07/2015