Journal Clubbing – Understanding Academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York

Summer edition of my team journal club this time we read

Blake, M. and V. Gallimore (2018). “Understanding academics: a UX ethnographic research project at the University of York.” New Review of Academic Librarianship: 1-25.

I picked this article as I was interested both in the methods used and the potential findings.  I lead on UX work and Uni of York consistently do interesting things in the liaison and engagement sphere so this was an easy one to select.

Overall it left us wanting more.  The methodology section was very light and did not address a number of questions that would have been useful to support the article.  There is no detail of the recruitment strategy or of the semi structured interview schedule for example.  We wanted to know more about the cognitive maps and it would have been great to see a bit of these. While we know that new contacts were made we do not know to what extent the data were gathered from already friendly faces.  They would at least have been sufficiently well disposed towards the library to engage in an extended interview exercise.

The description of academic lives was felt interesting but not surprising. We did wonder if there was a nervousness in writing something that would be published and visible to the interviewees given the emphasis on relationship building.  Generally we wanted to push further into the questions.  A colleague had recently attended a “secret life of an academic” talk where a number of important topics were discussed that have not surfaced in the article at all.  We wondered about the absence of research data management from a library perspective.

Finally we wanted to know more about the changes that had resulted.  This was clearly a major undertaking and the need to see impact from this was felt imperative.  The section on how the data was used to generate user requirement for a change of Reading List software would have been brilliant to read – how did they do this? what difference did it make versus what was known already? etc.

Having said all this – it was a good article for our journal club prompting lots of discussion.  We had useful thoughts on what we might want to know from academics and how we might ask them.  And colleagues at York definitely have expertise and experience we would value!

 

 

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