In 2016 CILIP committed to adopting an evidence based approach to policy making and its other activities as part of the Action Plan 2016-2020. This included a plan to develop a sector-wide evidence base or research portal for the information profession as a long-term objective. Pete Dalton (Birmingham City University) and Sarah McNicol (Manchester Metropolitan University) were commissioned to scope this vision and their report Research to Support the Development of a Sector-wide research Portal/Evidence-base has now been published.
Through desk research, a stakeholder survey and interviews, Dalton and McNicol found that:
- Evidence and research is perceived as important across the information sector and there’s interest in an evidence portal. There is no commonly accepted definition of a portal within the sector, however.
- There are differences between sectors in the use of research and demand for different types of evidence sources
- The most common ways of using research were to improve existing services, professional development, and to create new services.
- The most common challenges experienced in accessing research included lack of time, lack of awareness of where to find research, and inability to access certain resources.
- There are a wide range of potential users for a research portal, including information professionals across a number of sectors as well as people engaged in teaching and research, professionals from other sectors and decision makers.
- Case studies were the most requested type of resource for a research/evidence portal. Data sets, academic articles and research reports were also considered important.
- Based on this preliminary study, the report suggests some essential features for an evidence portal - including case studies, data sets, open access search engines and repositories, and a variety of entry points (e.g. sector and topic) – and some recommended and additional features, as well as options for future consideration.
This report is, of course, only the first stage of the process. On June 19th The Dalton/McNicol research was presented at a productive Round Table of over 25 key stakeholders, including the British Library, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Libraries NI, Sconul, Health Libraries England, the Welsh Government and SLA Europe. A collaborative way forward for this important project was discussed. Further details and sector consultations to follow.