BOOK REVIEW / CRITIQUE DE LIVRE : Practical Tips for Facilitating Research

BOOK REVIEW / CRITIQUE DE LIVRE

JCHLA / JABSC 38: 55-56 (2017) doi: 10.5596/c17-013

Practical Tips for Facilitating Research

Sarah May Visintini. Replacement Librarian, Berkman Library, University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa ON (Corresponding author. Email: svisinti@uottawa.ca)

Creative Commons Logo Visintini. This article is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License.

Bent, MJ. Practical tips for facilitating research. London: Facet Publishing; 2016. Softcover: 236p. (Blanchett H, editor. Practical tips for library and information professionals series). ISBN 978-1-78330-017-4. Price CAD $128.27. Available from http://www.facetpublishing.co.uk/title.php?id=300174#.WNxfAVXyt0w

Starry eyes. That’s what I had when I first read over the table of contents of Practical Tips for Facilitating Research by Moira Bent. I currently oversee a small university-affiliated satellite library within a hospital. Liaising with my researchers is no simple task. They’re busy people, often juggling clinical and academic duties in addition to their research work, so I was very excited by the variety of topics in the book’s contents list and the prospect of numerous ideas on how to better connect with and support my researchers. This book did not disappoint!

Practical Tips was written for librarians and library staff, particularly those working in academic libraries, who support researchers in any field. Health sciences librarians however will recognize their work in particular in all the topics and strategies covered in this book. Before taking her retirement last summer, Moira Bent was a longstanding Faculty Liaison Librarian at Newcastle University in England and has done extensive work in information literacy.

Bent covers a lot of territory in this book, starting with an overview of the book’s purpose (Section 1) and contents (Section 2), theories and models around researcher career stages, the research cycle, and information literacy (Section 3), and moving quickly into more applied chapters dedicated to the library’s role in organizational structures (Section 4), its use of space and place (Section 5), staff roles (Section 6), collections (Section 7), interventions by phase of the research lifecycle (Section 8), teaching approaches (Section 9), and workshop ideas (Section 10). Interestingly, Bent makes a conscious choice to largely skip over undergraduate students as a population of interest, focusing more on support that can be delivered to masters and doctoral students, as well as early-career and established researchers.

A shining strength of this book is the number of ideas and tips provided. Bent makes a point of including real-world examples whenever possible, with testimonials and lessons learned from librarians all over the world who have implemented the proposed ideas. Bent also accompanies examples with thoughtful “To Think About” sections, prompting readers to consider potential pitfalls and additional considerations before committing themselves or their staff to new projects.

I’ve already applied some Practical Tips in my own work. I was inspired to approach my hospital’s organizing committee about an upcoming Research Day after reading Section 5.5 “Get involved with local research conferences and events”. I pitched the idea of a library display to the organizing committee, along with several activities suggested in Practical Tips to attract conference goers, such as an ORCID sign up and information station and the provision of goodies and a raffle (in my case, for 3D printed swag). My proposal was instantly accepted, and will surely garner good exposure for the library at my institution.

Bent’s decision to focus more specifically on services and delivery to researchers at the masters level and onwards was another strength of this book. This allowed for a focused, detailed, and practical examination of what implementation of the ideas and tips would look like by target audience group. For example, teaching masters students—who may not yet have published anything—how to calculate their h-index may not be the best use of finite training time, whereas established researchers would certainly get more benefit from that type of activity.

In addition to the practical tips, and to the book’s approach to catering to various research groups, the provision of further reading material for every section of the book is another benefit, and enables readers to discover additional material as their interests or needs require.

To be honest, I cannot think of any true weaknesses of this book. It is exactly what it promises to be, “an attempt to bridge the gap between theory and practice, grounding the very practical ideas garnered from library and information staff around the world in current research in the library and information science discipline in order to assist LIS staff in developing and managing their role in the research environment” (pg.3). While Bent does tend to prioritize the practical over published research, providing only a few key references for each subsection, this book is not intended to be an exhaustive resource of library and information science research, and is explicit in its design and purpose: to provide librarians and library staff with a wide range of ideas for how to help and connect with their researchers.

I would highly recommend this book to any librarian working with researchers in the health sciences, and to many of our colleagues working in other disciplines, for that matter. The book is short, realistic, practical, easy to read, and extremely useful for generating ideas. As for me, I am still starry eyed. I know I will be referring back to this book and my copious marginalia for the foreseeable future—that is of course until my colleagues start asking to borrow my copy!

Statement of Competing Interests

No competing interests declared.

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