You may find it helpful to read these section summaries to put the tips into context before dipping into the tips themselves.
Landscapes and models (Section 3)
It may seem contradictory to begin a practical tips book with a section on theory, but a clear understanding of the context against which we operate is essential if librarians wish to truly engage with their research community. A consideration of the different environments or landscapes through which researchers move can provide a helpful perspective. Landscapes can be personal and internal or objective and external, but they will all overlap to a greater or lesser extent to create an individual research landscape which influences the outcome of any research.
For example, the prevailing political landscape will influence funding, organizational decision-making, opportunities for ‘blue sky’ research over economic necessity and thus ultimately the general direction of the research. A country's higher education landscape situates university research within a broad educational environment, with considerations such as the research/teaching nexus, parity of esteem and the pedagogy of research. Commercial research landscapes may focus on commercial viability, trials, licences and ethics, to suggest just a few elements.
Within an organizational landscape researchers may function individually and in teams, within and across disciplines and sectors, priorities changing with the objectives of their employer. At an individual level, researchers operate within their own information literacy landscape (Bent, 2008), influenced by their attitudes and behaviours towards information, as well as their personal abilities. The wider information landscape provides the context for this, including as it does aspects of quantity and quality of information, access, language and availability.
An individual research landscape therefore, is a complex blend of different external factors and individual attributes and the picture is further complicated when additional definitions, models and frameworks are introduced. Even seemingly straightforward terms such as ‘research’ and ‘researcher’, which seem self-explanatory, can mean different things in different situations. Can undergraduates completing an essay be thought of as doing research? They might argue so, but it is certainly different to research undertaken by a postdoc, for example.