Building the skills to build the evidence base

The DREaM project (Developing Research Excellence and Methods) has just held its second event. Susie Andretta shares some of her key learnings.

DREaMing in Edinburgh

The second DREaM event was held at Edinburgh Napier University on 25 October.  The full programme  and the presentations are all available on the DREaM blog[i] and accounts of the event have already been given by some participants in their blogs[ii].  The event aimed to give an introduction of three distinct approaches, namely ethnography (Paul Lynch), social network analysis (Louise Cooke) and discourse analysis (Andy McKinlay). The event also included a session called the 'unconference half hour' where a number of individual delegates gave a short talk asking for help on their research, raising awareness about their investigations, or simply discussing issues or concerns.  The final session, facilitated by Charles Oppenheim, explored research ethics and legal issues where participants in groups were asked to address an ethical conundrum and report back on the outcome of their discussions.  

Information ethics

I came away from the event with two goals in mind.  The first, thanks to Charles Oppenheim's consent, is to use his material on the ethical issues session with my postgraduate students who are currently undertaking research project.  It seems that I was not the only one who was inspired by this session as shown by Maria Grant's tweet: "Following the #lis_dream2 discussion on ethics earlier this week I've now completed the university's online anti bribery training...".  These instances clearly illustrate evidence of the impact that the workshop is already having on the practice of its participants.  In my case I expect that a discussion on broader ethical issues will enrich the experience of my students by exposing them to diverse ethical problems, and thereby expanding their way of making sense and addressing the issues of research ethics beyond the confines of their investigations.

Social Network Analysis

The second goal is long-term and involves looking more closely at social network analysis (SNA) thanks to Louise's talk. Louise produced a diagram of the network reflecting the connections between the workshop's participants, and perhaps such a practical application of SNA helped to arouse my interest. Needless to say, the two people at the centre of the network were Hazel Hall and Charles Oppenheim as they are the main coordinators of the DREaM project and therefore have established connections with all the participants.  Louise promised to run the SNA again at the end of the third workshop and it will be interesting to compare the final SNA with the network from the first workshop to see how the network has grown as a result of the DREaM events.

Susie Andretta is Senior Lecturer in Information Management at London Metropolitan University.

Image courtesy of Paul-Simpson.Org via Flickr.

[i] Hall, H. (2011) 'DREaM event 2 - workshop Tuesday 25 October 2011',  Library and Information Science Research Coalition. Available at: (Accessed 27 October 2011).

[ii] Alcock, J. (2011) 'LIS DREaM workshop #lis_dream2', Evidence Base Blog, 25 October 2011. Available at:  (Accessed 27 October 2011).

Parsons, A. (2011) 'DREaM Workshop #1', Actors/Networks, 26 October 2011.  Available at: (Accessed 27 October 2011).

Smith, L. (2011) 'LIS DREaM Workshop 1: Edinburgh', Walk You Home,  30 October 2011. Available at: (Accessed 31 October 2011).

The first DREaM event was held in July 2011 and was covered for InfoTodayEu by Colm Talbot.