Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Applying for the LIRG Research Award

I recently posted a call for applications for the UK LIRG Research Award.  Dr. John Cullen, a previous recipient of the LIRG award, has kindly written this blog post to share his insights into applying for the award.

Guest Post by Dr. John Cullen

I received the LIRG award to conduct research and analysis on the labour market for library and information management workers in Ireland in 2001.   As an early-career librarian with a professional and personal interest in how the world of information work was changing most of the budget was spent on employing news monitoring agencies to identify and cut newspaper cuttings related to information work.  I don’t know what happened to the scrapbooks where I pasted these job postings, the supplementary information that I sought (such as application forms, job descriptions, etc) or even the original database, but the fact that I sought this type of information in the first place underlines just how different the world of work and recruitment in general has become. 

I feel that the reasons for why the project was funded were that:
(  1) It represented an extension of exploratory research work that I had already completed.  I had previously reviewed job ads in The Irish Times and The Irish Independent over a published 12–month timeframe. The money I sought from the award would make it possible to do this in every newspaper in the country which would give a greater sense of the national library and information work recruitment market.
(  2) It represented a topic of study of interest to both practicing librarians (as the levels of job-seekers, recruiters and managers) and researchers in librarianship.
(  3) Results on the one year pilot had already been published, which demonstrated that it was a suitable topic for publication in a learned journal.
On the basis of this, my advice to anyone interested in pursuing funding (such as the LIRG award) is to think about the following:
1.     What are you genuinely personally interested in learning about through a research project?  I had heard a lot of conjecture and speculation about the changing nature of library and information work in Ireland and was interested in collecting some real data about to provide solid evidence that would be of use to myself.
2.     Although the information collected was personal interesting and useful, I quickly say how other members of the profession could benefit from it also.  My personal interests also appeared to be of note to the professional interests of other library workers.  Think about how what you plan to do will be interest to your fellow information professionals?
3.     Let it build from a project you’ve already conducted elsewhere or work already done.  Work that has already been completed demonstrates to funders that you have a longer term commitment to work that you want them to finance.  Many of us have completed a thesis or work-related project that is residing in a dark corner of an attic somewhere.  Opportunities such as the LIRG award give us the chance to bring our research interests back to life.
Have a publications strategy in mind.  Funders like to see the work they have supported shared with the widest possible audience.  The LIRG award requires publication of results in LIRN, but if you can think of any other periodicals where an element of the project could be submitted to in the future, it can’t hurt to say this.  Just remember to be clear that you always acknowledge the support of your funders!

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