I was delighted when the editors of Research, Evaluation and Audit: key steps in demonstrating your value invited me to write the foreword to this new work. This volume of contributions has been designed to meet the needs of practitioners eager to conduct research to inform their own practice and to develop the library and information science (LIS) evidence base. As such, it addresses an ongoing concern of the LIS community: the research–practice gap. In your hands is an artefact of the efforts of some key actors within the LIS research and practitioner community to close the gap by sharing their knowledge and expertise so that others can undertake their own research projects.
Although the research–practice gap has been evident for some time, since 2009 renewed investment in the UK LIS research infrastructure, alongside a number of smaller parallel initiatives, has drawn greater attention to it. The most significant of these initiatives derived from a base of informal discussions about the state of UK LIS research in 2006. Five key stakeholders – the British Library, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), JISC, the Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and the Research Information Network (RIN) took action in 2009 by making a three year investment to facilitate a coordinated and strategic approach to LIS research across the UK. Known as the Library and Information Science Research Coalition, from the start this project focused on five key goals. Amongst these were two that relate directly to the content of Research, Evaluation and Audit (1) to promote LIS practitioner research and the translation of research outcomes into practice; and (2) to promote the development of research capacity in LIS.
In the final year of its implementation in 2011–12 the Coalition's main aim was articulated as ‘supporting practising librarians and information scientists, both in how they can access and exploit available research in their work, and in their own development as practitioner researchers’.