10 librarians on their experience at a research design institute

screen-shot-2016-08-10-at-8-48-19-pm“…Always let your research question guide the way.”

“It is very important to make clear connections between what I want to learn and the tools I will use to figure it out.”

“…Research is not always clean and straightforward, you may have some bumps in the road, but that’s OK, because that is the journey.”

These are just a few of the top takeaways from the 2016 class of scholars at the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL), a two-week program that equips librarians to design and conduct research projects.

Interested in learning about the 2016 cohort’s experience, we asked them about the biggest tips they learned and were excited to bring back to their institutions. Read their full answers below.

“My biggest takeaway for improving my research back at my institution is to be very thorough in the research process. From forming ideas and questions to refining the methodology, being precise and systematic is essential. It is very important to make clear connections between what I want to learn and the tools I will use to figure it out.” –Leni Matthews, User Experience Librarian, University of Texas at Arlington

“One of the most important things I learned at IRDL is to always let your research question guide the way! Transforming a research topic into well considered and measurable research objectives and questions takes a lot of brainpower, but getting clear on what question you are trying to answer makes selecting research methods and analyzing data so much easier. Now I’m the one in meetings at my institution who keeps the discussion focused on the research question at hand.” –Amanda Woodward, User Engagement Librarian/Assistant Professor, Woodbury University

“The intricacy of survey design is my biggest takeaway. The surveys I am designing for my research, as a result of IRDL, are much more thoughtful. I now design my survey questions around my research objectives and am acutely aware of how survey design dictates what statistical tests you can execute on the data you collect.” –Chris Marino. Reference and Outreach Archivist, Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley

“The most important learning that took place at IRDL 2016 for me was developing a deep understanding of research methodologies. I knew basics but am now much more well-versed, and therefore more confident, in designing studies and interpreting data. In fact, within days of returning, I had used my new knowledge to help an undergraduate student design a survey, I shared qualitative data analysis techniques with a PhD student for whom I serve on a dissertation committee, and I started planning a new study to demonstrate the impact of my department’s services. My success in research as a faculty member new to the tenure-track will be in large part due to IRDL.” –Anne Marie H. Gruber, Instruction & Liaison Librarian and Assistant Professor of Library Services, University of Northern Iowa

“IRDL was a great opportunity to learn how to create research projects that answer important questions in librarianship. After attending, I feel confident that I can design and conduct a strong research project and help others at my institution to do the same.” –Lorelei Rutledge, Assistant Librarian, University of Utah

Electra Enslow

Electra Enslow

“I now have the knowledge and confidence to participate in top quality library research at my institution. I feel secure in my understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods, how to apply them, and how to review others’ research. I know that, in addition to the incredibly useful texts that I can refer to, I can workshop research ideas from every single member of the 2016 IRDL cohort and get top notch feedback from them!” –Electra Enslow, Health Sciences Librarian, Washington State University

“IRDL gave me such a boost in confidence by making me more comfortable with the ‘how-tos’ of research. This confidence boost is the biggest takeaway of IRDL for me, and was made stronger by the opportunity to make such great connections with librarians across the nation. The ability to gain practical insight into the research process while simultaneously bouncing ideas and feedback off of others in the same situation was invaluable, and it has already begun to pay off as I move forward with my project.” –Courtney Block, Assistant Librarian, Instruction, Reference, and User Engagement Librarian, Indiana University Southeast

“My biggest takeaway from IRDL is confidence. I am confident about the research process and I understand that it is a process. I understand that I may have to revise sections of my research as I continue. I have confidence because I know that research is not always clean and straightforward, you may have some bumps in the road, but that’s ok, because that is the journey.” –Latrice Booker, Coordinator of Library Instruction, Indiana University Northwest


Ray Pun

“IRDL demystified the process of approaching research within the academic library. It helped me become a better reader of others’ research and a better designer of my own. Through IRDL I realized a simple yet illuminating fact—your research is only as good as your research design.” –Emily Crist, Experience Design Librarian, Champlain College

“For me, the readings and the IRDL program really made me step out of my comfort zone. It made me feel vulnerable at first because I was learning, unlearning, and re-learning many ideas, concepts and approaches to research. The whole experience gave me the confidence to take my research project to the next level–professionally, personally, and institutionally. I am more excited to share these methods, readings, and ideas with colleagues and students and suggest new ways to strengthen their research design as well.” –Ray Pun, First Year Student Success Librarian, California State University, Fresno

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