The Institute for Research Design in Librarianship is an IMLS-funded program “designed to bring together a diverse group of academic and research librarians who are motivated and enthusiastic about conducting research but need additional training and/or other support to perform the steps successfully.”
The institute started in 2014. My cohort (2019) is the last IMLS-funded year, but the creators will continue the project using a paid model in the future. Our cohort included 23 librarians from colleges and universities all over the country. Our interests, experiences, and areas of librarianship were varied.
The 2019 cohort kicked things off in June with a one-week research boot camp at Loyola Marymount University. In seven days, we received research instruction from Dr. Lili Luo and Dr. Greg Guest, as well as individual consultations with our instructors and the IRDL creators, Kris Brancolini and Marie Kennedy. We also relied on each other to get “fresh eyes” on our projects and to commiserate when our projects seemed bigger than we could handle!
After that first week, our cohort will continue working with Kris, Marie, and a research mentor (a previous IRDL scholar) throughout the coming academic year. We each committed to completing our research projects in that time. To stay on track, we have periodic check-ins with each other to update everyone on progress, ask questions, and get support. We also work with our mentors monthly to review our work and get feedback. Our cohort also created a Slack group for talking about the different research methods we are using and coordinating future meetups.
The boot camp covered sampling techniques, proper statistical measures, and strategies for doing qualitative analysis. This was especially useful because after we learned something in class, we could request a consultation with one of the instructors to see how we could best apply a technique to our research project. I found this incredibly helpful when considering what statistical tests I should use for my study. The goal of my project is to determine the effectiveness of augmented reality on students’ perception of the library and librarians when used as part of an orientation for incoming first-year students. I’ll be comparing pre and post-orientation questionnaires from a group of students taking an augmented reality orientation and a group participating in a traditional orientation.
IRDL has already had a major impact on my research design. The proposal I submitted to the Institute in January is much different from the one I will be submitting in July. My methodology, sampling technique, and survey instruments underwent a complete overhaul in the week I spent at the institute. My confidence as a researcher has also increased and I feel more comfortable making decisions about what and how I will research as a practicing librarian.
I’m looking forward to the coming year when I’ll be completing my research project and working closely with my cohort and mentor. One aspect of IRDL which the directors continually emphasize is that our fellow scholars are part of our lifelong research network. We can ask questions of each other, collaborate, generate ideas, and rely on each other for support as we research throughout our careers. This kind of support, along with the knowledge I gained at the institute, has been transformative by making me feel more confident in asking questions and making decisions.