There was a meeting of members of the community of practice on 11 June. We focused on induction for the 2019/20 academic year in the main, but some other points were raised too, especially in how we can work together to publish undergraduate research projects. Here were the key issues raised and how we plan to tackle them.
Want to encourage the students to find their own reading from the get-go, to reflect their own interests and perspectives.
This is linked to a course where many of the students already have jobs linked to the degree, and so come with a lot of professional knowledge, but then don’t seem to bring this perspective into their assignments. Linked to this were also issues of resource availability, where even though ebooks are provided for essential reading, there were complaints about availability of texts on the reading list. The academic explained that the reading list had some set readings, all available electronically, but that it may be linked to the additional, recommended reading, with the students feeling (even though this isn’t the case) that they have to stick to the resources on the reading list.
Suggested way forward
The academic liaison librarian is going to work with the module tutor on a workshop in which the students will help create the reading list, close to the start of their course. There will still be set readings to give an introduction to topics, but the rest will be compiled by the students. In this they will be able to bring their professional knowledge into play, learn about the resources that are now available to them as a university student, and connect these up with the learning outcomes of the module. This links well with critical information literacy in giving the student agency as a researcher, and not privileging any specific types of information. We can use the list created as a starting point for critiquing from the perspective of the representation of marginalised voices, and build upon it as the programme progresses.
How can we publish and promote student research projects that plug information gaps, or have the potential to influence policy, or are valuable additions to the evidence base in other ways?
An academic colleague raised the issue that, each year, a number of research projects done by students in their final year, are of such quality and value that they deserve publishing. However, there were also concerns that the traditional journal publishing process may not be the most suitable for this. This is because the research is of worth to those working in professions beyond academia and therefore paywalls could restrict access to the people who would find the information most valuable.
Suggested way forward
The academic is firstly going to discuss this further with the current cohort of students, to ensure their opinions are taken into account in this decision making. However, a preferred solution for this academic is to host a website/blog for the course, with the research available to view without a paywall. This can grow as an archive each year, and can be indexed according to specialism. This gives future students the chance to see what has gone before, allows anyone to view the research, and provides a platform for those whose work is included to promote what they have found. In this, professional voices which have not had the chance to add to the evidence base, will now have an outlet. This is very much an early idea, and will be investigated further over the next few weeks.