research and statistics - Why do we need research? Bob...

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Why do we need research? Bob McKee Chief Executive of CILIP A lightly edited transcript of the paper given to LIRG on 4 July 2003 as part of the CILIP Umbrella 2003 Conference 4 July 2003 I don’t think of myself as inhabiting the research community. And yet, on reflection, I have had a sort of on/off relationship with research throughout my career. Indeed I first became a library assistant in order to finance my “other life” as a doctoral research student at the University of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Institute. And, at a key transitional point in my career I returned to academic life – including research – at the then library school at what is now the University of Central England. So I’ve been involved in the world of research from two different academic perspectives. And I’ve also been involved – I suppose over quite a long time now – in aspects of research policymaking and programme delivery. As a former member (quite a while ago now) of the LISU Advisory Committee. As a member (in the mid 1990s) of the Steering Group for the Aslib Review of PL Service – described by Roger Bowes (with characteristic understatement) as “the largest piece of research into public libraries ever undertaken in the world”. As a member (throughout its life) of the LIC’s Research Committee. And, more recently, as a member of the selection panel for the BL Cooperation and Partnership Programme. And, of course, my present role with CILIP involves connections with the research community because CILIP undertakes a number of activities related to research – about which more later. So I’ve seen research from a number of perspectives in the course of my career – but I’ve not yet mentioned the perspective that is the most fundamental in shaping my views on the research agenda. The literature of research in our domain talks a lot about the importance of the “practitioner- researcher” – as it should do in an academic domain which is clearly part of Professional and Vocational Education – and this is often linked to the concept of the “reflective practitioner” which underpins CILIP’s Chartering process and will underpin CILIP’s future process of accredited continuing professional development. Well, I’ve always sought to be a “reflective practitioner” and at times I’ve also been a “practitioner-researcher”. I’ve always believed in that continuous process of iteration between research and practice. So for example, when I reflect on my work in the 1970s in Birmingham’s inner city in the early days of community librarianship I can see a continuous iterative process of research, reflection, practice, policy which connects directly from the work in the 1970s into the current work on Framework for the Future – just as there’s a sort of “audit trail” of research Library and Information Research, 28 (88), Spring 2004, p 3-12
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and practice linking current work on social inclusion to work in the 1970s on community development. And similarly when I reflect on my work in the early 1980s in further education (in the early
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research and statistics - Why do we need research? Bob...

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