Research projects

The CILIP Information Literacy Group (ILG) have set up a Research Bursaries scheme to help to fill some of those gaps and, to do so, are seeking imaginative proposals that have the potential for high impact beyond HE and librarianship. Below are some of the completed and current projects that have been supported through this scheme. Information on applying for a research bursary can be found on the ILG’s CILIP pages.

Completed projects funded by the Information Literacy Group’s research bursaries 

Go Digital Newcastle

As more services move online, those without the means or skills to access the Internet are at increasing risk of isolation. This project worked to overcome these barriers by providing relevant, local opportunities for those who feel digitally excluded to develop, or improve their information literacy skills. The project acted as a hub for digital inclusion activity across the city, disseminating information, upskilling key workforces, mapping and promoting existing opportunities and addressing gaps in this provision. Ultimately, helping people with the skills, access and confidence they need to get online.
Project proposal
Interim report
Presentation from CILIP Conference 2015 (PDF) – Becky Cole

Learning, Lending, Liberty

This study analysed how school libraries in Scotland were serving to support young people’s participation in two major political events: the Scottish Independence Referendum 2014 and the UK General Election 2015.
Executive summary
Learning Lending Liberty Final Report

Determining the value of information literacy for employers (DeVIL)

The purpose of the project is to develop a methodology that will allow for the identification of quantitative and qualitative data that demonstrate the benefits of developing IL in workplace settings and assess the return on investment (ROI) of such initiatives. Our approach will be entirely pragmatic: we wish to propose, in terms that enterprises can understand and relate to, a way of identifying, or at least estimating the value that is added by information literacy; in other words, the value that is added by employing and training individuals that have appropriate and relevant knowhow, competencies and skills in the use and handling of information and data, whatever form that takes. The value might be financial, but it might also relate to other factors that are important to enterprises, such as enhanced efficiency or competitive advantage. 
Project proposal
Presentation from CILIP Conference 2016 (PDF)


Current projects funded by the Information Literacy Group’s research bursaries

Awareness and ownership of information literacy skills within trainee teachers

Where does “How to teach…” & “What is…” infolit coming from for new teachers and how can we influence this? This study asked a number of trainee teachers, along with their teacher trainers, in 2 universities and a number of FE colleges in England questions designed to elicit some answers to these questions. The trainee teachers were spread across a wide range of sectors, from Primary Education, to Adult Education in the community. Primarily based on free text answers to a survey, the study looked for patterns in the beliefs expressed on what information skills are important and who should teach them, and aims to develop recommendations for where it may be possible to intervene and influence those beliefs for those interesting in building the information literacy of students and relationships between teachers and learning support workers such as librarians.
Project proposal

Facilitating research amongst radiographers through Information Literacy workshops

There is a strong research presence within Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, however, nurses, midwives and Allied Health Professionals are under-represented in the area of ‘home grown’ research. There is much innovation in day to day clinical practice and yet very little of it gets translated into research output. This project will develop a set of Information Literacy workshops that will seek to facilitate an increase in research output in a profession-specific group in an NHS Trust. We will be working with Radiographers, measuring their confidence and motivation levels as well as looking at any research they produce as a result of the project. The research team has members of staff from Library Services and Research and Innovation, strengthening the collaboration between these two departments. The project will result in a set of workshop plans and support resources that will be freely available and could be used by other information professionals in a health setting.
Project proposal

Information Literacy for Democratic Engagement (IL-DEM)

The findings of this research will contribute to strategies to improve citizen engagement in the democratic process at community level.
Community Councillors are a vital link between local communities and higher levels of government in Scotland. They are generally ‘ordinary people’ who often find it difficult to understand their powers and responsibilities in their Community Councillor roles. They also face other challenges related to their interactions with information. For example, they struggle to keep on top of important developments that affect their local communities and fellow citizens, such as planning proposals. They also often lack the skills required to disseminate information and communicate news in ways that suit their constituents (e.g. by social media). This is not because they are not interested in using information and communication technologies in their roles. Indeed many Community Councillors wish to be involved with digital engagement, but they simply do not know where to start.

One reason why their knowledge is limited is that the majority of Community Councillors are no longer in formal education. Thus levels of information literacy amongst this group generally depend on lifelong learning, rather than schooling or training. This project will draw on existing research on information literacy and lifelong learning to frame a study that investigates the information skills and practices of Community Councillors, with a view to identifying strategies on how these may be enhanced. The research will also consider the role of public library staff in the training of Community Councillors, as well as broader issues related to public library services’ role as related to the development of communities, social capital, and citizenship. This element of the study acknowledges the long-recognised part that libraries play in supporting citizenship – a role that is becoming more important as the austerity-driven spending environment throws more responsibilities onto local communities.
Project proposal

Information discernment and psychophysiological well-being in response to misinformed stigmatization

It is not known to what extent mis-information (e.g., religious extremism) effects young peoples’ (aged 16-24) well-being (including psychophysiological responses) and to what extent information discernment (i.e., the ability to make complex judgments about information) is a protecting factor against ill-being. People aged 16-24 are the most likely users of the Internet (ONS, 2015) and therefore are exposed to mis-information and as a result may develop ill-being, especially via social media use (Booker, 2016).

This collaborative project brings together experts in information literacy, user experience, applied psychology and psychophysiological stress reactivity. The team believes that, information discernment moderates the relationship between misinformation and cardiovascular reactivity in stressful social situation(s). This research has wide implications for policy makers, educationalists and governments, indicating for the first time that information literacy has a social and physical, as well as educational benefit and that it should be added to preventative measures against misinformation.

Here, psychophysiological well-being is determined using challenge and threat cardiovascular reactivity, where challenge reactivity (driven by Sympathetic AdrenoMedullary activation) indicates an adaptive reaction to stress, and threat (driven by Pituitary Adreno-Cortical activation) indicates a maladaptive reaction to stress
(Blascovich & Mendes, 2000). We will break new research ground and make a substantial contribution to the extant literature by exploring how mis-information about religious extremism may affect young peoples’ cardiovascular reactivity, and subsequent cognitive functioning. For the first time the extent to which information discernment moderates challenge and threat reactivity will also be investigated.

There are two research questions:

1: To what extent does information discernment (an essential component of information literacy) moderate the effects of mis-information (stigmatized vs. nonstigmatized) on psychophysiological reactivity?

2: To what extent does psychophysiological reactivity influence performance and interpersonal interaction in a collaborative pressurized attention task?
Project proposal

Lost in information? New Syrian Scots’ information way‐finding practices

According to the International Organization for Migration (2015) the number of migrants, displaced persons and refugees who arrived in Europe in 2015 has been estimated to be above one million, which presents the highest migration flow since World War II. The conflict in Syria has been the biggest driver of migration. The UK via the ‘Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Programme’ has committed to accepting 20,000 most vulnerable Syrian families from established refugee camps a proportion of which have been placed in Scotland. The Scottish Refugee Council (SRC) offers the ‘refugee integration’ (RIS) programme which helps address families’ initial critical needs, such as housing, welfare rights, education and access to benefits. However, all the partners involved in implementation of the “New Scots strategy” “have been working under extreme pressure to ensure the smooth arrival and initial integration of large numbers of refugees in a short period of time” (Scottish Government, 2016).  This has involved a number of challenges, such understanding how to best deal with the provision of effective information support at local level but also how to centralise services designed around families’ different socio‐cultural experiences and individual needs.

This research aims to explore the information services available to ‘New Syrian Scots’* as well as their own information needs and their perceptions of the information services they consider important for their resettlement and adaptation, their habitual and adaptive information practices and the barriers and enablers they encounter within their new socio-cultural setting via their interaction with people, tools and processes. The research will be conducted via focus groups with New Syrian Scots and interviews with key SRC representatives. The outcomes of this research will help towards making recommendations on how to best aid the newcomers in their social inclusion and support their emerging information landscapes for their resettlement and adaptation.    *This is a preferred way of referring to the Syrian refugees in Scotland
Project proposal

On the move: transitioning information skills into the workplace

Information literacy is a key life skill for students and graduates. However, there is little awareness or use of information literacy research in careers services, graduate recruitment, and workplaces. Examining the disconnect between higher education and the professional world will help careers and related services to better prepare students for the path ahead. This project will foster engagement between stakeholders (librarians, careers staff, employers, job-hunters) and help library and careers staff to understand the information skills graduates need in their early careers. It is vital that careers staff are aware of the working world. They use a range of labour market reports to inform their work, but these reports do not contain sectoral-specific details on the use of information skills. This project will produce a valuable additional resource in the form of a pilot information skills mapping e-resource tool which will help students and support services more effectively design, develop and communicate transferable competencies.

Crucially, this collaborative work will examine the financial sector, which is of interest to many students; the Financial and Insurance sector being in the top five of most common destination for UCL graduates for the last nine years. It will act as a pilot for wider cross-sectoral work in future. The insights of careers services will be integral to this project, enabling a new opportunity to develop a wider view of information literacy issues, which are currently strongly located within library silos. Research on workplace learning will be used to inform the project design and analysis, encouraging cross-fertilisation of ideas.

A workshop presenting the project and the tool will be targeted towards employers, careers services, candidates, librarians and academics in an attempt to develop and strengthen cross disciplinary links and contribute to the development of strategies enabling transition of information literacies from HE into employment.
Project proposal