Monday, 30 May 2011

Making the most of library school - after you've graduated

This is a blog post that I have been planning for a while, but was waiting for the most appropriate time to write it. I’ve decided to do so now, as a couple of weeks ago, some of my research was published in a peer-reviewed journal, Reference Services Review. This article was co-authored with my MA Librarianship dissertation supervisor and based on the work that I did for my dissertation. We started working on it a few days after I finished the MA last September, so I’ve waited a while to see my name in print! The whole process has been a great experience; I’ve had bits and bobs published before, but never in a peer-reviewed journal, and never a case study like this, so it was all new. It’s also been an exhausting one – finding the energy to return to my dissertation after spending all summer on it and working out how to turn it into an article, trying to finish the version to be submitted at the same time as moving to an unfamiliar city and beginning my first professional post, going back to it again to make the suggested revisions that came out of the peer review, and all the time, knowing that there’s a possibility it won’t even be accepted for publication in the end! It has all been worth it though, to see my work published, in the official journal format, in a journal I used a lot for my coursework and dissertation. It has also given me the research and writing bug: since finding out it had been accepted for publication, I’ve upped my blogging and, as I mentioned in my last blog post, successfully had a paper accepted for the New Professionals Conference (which includes some of my own, albeit very basic, research). I’ve also made getting published and presenting at conferences one of my objectives for my Chartership PPDP. So, hopefully, it is the start of something exciting!

Obviously, my attitude had a part to play in getting to this point. I worked hard on my dissertation, expressed an active interest in the possibility of publication, and then put in the effort when all I wanted to do was give my brain a rest, get back into a sensible sleeping pattern, and forget about research methods! But a lot of the credit has to go to my dissertation supervisor, not only for all of the work she put in as co-author, and sorting out the submission process, but for her continued support throughout the time she was my supervisor. She helped me formulate my ideas, gave me a kick up the bum when I was refusing to do my data analysis because it scared me, read through drafts of chapters, liaised with various people when I wasn’t getting anywhere with them, and suggested publishing the research. And that’s just the dissertation; there was of course the references for job applications, which were often requested from her at short notice, I’m sure, and the support and encouragement offered both when I failed to get jobs, and when I secured one. If not for her support, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to even attempt writing a journal article. If she is reading this, I hope she understands how much I appreciate what she has done for me, and continued to do after I finished the MA; her support did not end once I ceased to become her student, and that meant a lot to me.

At library school, if you do a dissertation, you get a chance to carry out your own research, to the extent that you might not get again, or at least not very often, in terms of time to carry out the research, access to people and resources, and, most importantly, the support of a supervisor who is an experienced researcher in your area, and who really knows their stuff. This is what I meant when I gave this blog post its title. If you are at all interested in writing for publication, or even just think you’ve discovered something that should be shared with the LIS world, I encourage you to suggest the possibility of co-authoring a piece with your supervisor, and to do it as soon as possible after you’ve submitted your dissertation, while you’re still in a writing and research frame of mind and it’s still fresh in your head.  It will be tiring, and may feel like the last thing you want to do, but I encourage you to make the effort; the final product will be worth it. I already know of at least one blog post and a couple of tweets which have engaged with my article, and that is just as rewarding as the actual publication, as it shows that we have made some kind of contribution to the LIS research and practitioner landscape. 

I’m sure there are other ways in which we can make the most of library school after we’ve graduated, and I may write further blog posts on this topic. I would also love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, I reiterate my encouragement to make the most of the opportunity to create something useful and/or original at library school.

No comments:

Post a Comment