I’m a Newbie Published Author!

I’m officially a published author as of last Thursday. My first peer-reviewed journal article has been published in the Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults (JRLYA). It’s a very exciting/intimidating experience to see your name in print, out there in the world for anyone to read. The peer-reviewed publication process is (unsurprisingly) long and challenging. After submitted a paper, there’s the sometimes lengthy wait to hear whether it has been accepted, accepted with major/minor edits, or rejected. Then there’s the peer-reviews, which are a delightfully agonizing read. After a back and forth of changes and corrections, your paper is okayed for publication. Copyright forms are figured out (I’m confused by legalese) and signed. Followed by another wait for your article to actually be published.

Luckily, I’ve had terrific experiences with JRLYA, Journal of Education for Library and Information Studies (JELIS), and Public Libraries Quarterly (PLQ). The editors are friendly, encouraging, and understanding. This is exactly what I (and probably many other writers need). Having your writing read, judged, and openly critiqued is uncomfortable. I blogged about my experience with the peer-reviews I received from this JRLYA article back in November. As a perfectionist by nature, I’m already prone to intense self-criticism and doubt. Peer-reviews rarely help ease these feelings. But I’m learning to make peace with peer-reviews. Well…as much as I can.

I’ve also deposited my article into the Diginole Commons, FSU’s virtual repository for electronic scholarship. I love the idea of providing open access to my work. For some reason do this makes me feel even more a part of a research community. I look forward to depositing more in the near future. My article in PLQ comes out in September, and another article will appear in JELIS in October. Hard work can pay off. I could gush more about writing and publishing, but I’ll contain my enthusiasm. I’m only jumping up and down a little bit right now. And nobody can see….

Read my article, More Than Just Books: Librarians as a Source of Support for Cyberbullied Young Adults, via the link below. You know you want to! Yes you do.

http://www.yalsa.ala.org/jrlya/2014/05/more-than-just-books-librarians-as-a-source-of-support-for-cyberbullied-young-adults/

Social Media-ing the NASA Space Apps Challenge

Tomorrow, another doctoral student, Julia Skinner, and I will take part in the NASA Space Apps Challenge. (Julia’s also a blogger —http://juliacskinner.com/ !) We will be tweeting, facebooking, instagramming, and other social media-ing during the two day hackathon challenge. Julia and I look forward to responding to questions, comments, thoughts, encouragements, and/or suggestions directed to us.

How Can You Follow Us??

Twitter: @abigailleigh (me) & @bookishjulia (Julia); hashtags – #spaceapps & #spacecats.

Instagram: antiquatedabby & bookishjulia

Tumblr: I’d Rather Talk About Books (me) & Bookish Julia

Vine: abigailleigh

We’re EVERYWHERE! Maybe even more. I lost count.

Why yes. This is our team logo. Image courtesy of Blayne White.

Why yes. This is our team logo. Image courtesy of Blayne White.

Our team name is Cats in Space (naturally). Also naturally, our project involves cats and space images. Our team is a mixture of FSU and FAMU college students, teachers, local professionals, all interested in science, technology, and arts. The local location for the challenge will be Making Awesome, a Maker Space in Tallahassee. It will be a long (but fun!) two days, fueled by coffee and weird cat related space jokes. Please check out what we are creating and cheer on Team Cats in Space!

More information about the Space Apps Challenge:

2014 NASA Space Apps Challenge – Official site

Media Invited to 2014 International Space Apps Challenge Main Event in New York

 

Twitter & Librarianship

Recently, I’ve found myself reflecting on how librarians use Twitter as a source for professional development, encouragement, and support. (I’ve discovered that everything become researchable once you begin a doctoral program.) For me, Twitter is a professional tool. I use it to solely as a way to engage with librarians, libraries, researchers, and colleagues. I’ve only been actively engaged with Twitter for just over one year. During this time, I’ve participated in librarian related discussions, such as #libchat, and watched library trends rise and fall. I feel more connected to libraries and librarians through my Twitter use even though I’m not currently working in libraries. Unlike Facebook, which I consider my “personal” social media profile, there’s a strong sense of community among librarians and libraries on Twitter. A similar sense of community exists on Tumblr, FriendFeed, and to a lesser extent, Facebook (at least for me). I’m sure there are more examples of librarian communities on social media, but I can only be engaged so much.

The librarian community looks slightly different on each social media platform depending on the users, capabilities of the platform, and how engaged its users are. I’m addicted (in a professional way) to Twitter. The conversations on Twitter move quickly, are more focused (perhaps because of the character limitations), and encourage participation outside of a narrow set of users. It feels as though users are engaged in real time, dynamic discussions within a group of people. I’ve experienced this in a limited way on Facebook as part of the ALA Think Tank group. Yet, for me, Facebook is more exclusive and geared towards drop-in discussions (I’m thinking of discussion boards). This isn’t a  critique of Facebook, but just an observation and something to reflect on.

I’ve become fascinated with the controversies, uproars, and hypes that can spring up on Twitter. If you are part of a community or network for a decent amount of time, you can watch these events rise and fall from beginning to end. Last Thursday, Rainie (2014) from the Pew Research Center discussed the six types of Twitter conversations. This report inspired me to think about how the trends, hypes, controversies, etc. could be classified in the librarian Twitter community or even if they could fall neatly into one type. I’ve spent some time attempting to figure out where the conversations within this community would fit best. My guess is ‘tight crowds’, especially during conferences and other organized events. But then again, when disagreements occur within the librarian community, could this conversation be considered ‘divided’. Are these conversation categories all or nothing? Can a community shift from one to another or balance between two types? What type of Twitter conversation is missing from this list (if any)?

References

Rainie, L. (2014, March 20). The six types of Twitter conversations. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/20/the-six-types-of-twitter-conversations/.

Talking About My Research With Non-Researchers aka How I Bore Friends, Family, and Random Strangers

How do you talk about your research with non-researchers? After spending some time earlier last week talking with other LIS researchers about my work and then spending time talking with non-researchers, this question popped up in my mind (not for the first time). I’d rather not have my work, something I feel quite excited about and proud of, to sound terribly boring and pointless.

When someone asks what I do, I respond that I’m a doctoral student. I’ve learned not to say ‘doctoral student in information studies’ because that generally gets confused or weird looks. This is completely understandable. Information studies is a pretty vague and odd sounding area to study. Library-ish studies or library related stuff, while not completely accurate, is close enough and often how I describe my field. Then, the next question is, “what are your research interests?” or “what are you researching now?”.  Most of the time I say some combination of social media, young adults, and libraries. But sometimes I feels as if the questioner wants a more thought out response. And there is the unexpected moments when I am so excited about what I’m working on that I feel the need to gush.So, how much is too much? How much is boring? How much can I get away with? But mostly, what does this person really want to know? (If anything.)

I’ve come up with a few guidelines for myself in response to these questions. I’m not sure if they make sense to anyone else, but here goes:

  1. Avoid talking about theories/theoretical frameworks/models/paradigms/etc. – Not to suggest that whoever I’m speaking with can’t understand these theories, but who outside of my committee, colleagues, and advisors could possibly be interested in hearing about my particular theory or model? I’m guessing nobody…
  2. Avoid using the word “context” – This word just sounds pretentious and snotty.
  3. Try not to sound like you’re regurgitating a journal article – This probably applies when you’re engaging with researchers too. Journal articles aren’t the most exciting of reading, even if you’re interested in the topic.
  4. If you have another doc student in the group, avoid talking about committees, IBR, the peer-review process, your advisors, colloquiums, etc. –  In any conversation, it’s important that those you are talking with have some working knowledge of whatever is being discussed. These words have little meaning outside of the ivory tower, so why bring them up. It’s just rude. I made this mistake during a conference last week. Silly Abby.
  5. Try to find the fun and interesting parts of whatever you are researching and highlight those – If you are interested in it there must be something that others will find amusing, thoughtful, surprising, vaguely curious, or at the very least not boring. Maybe this could be thought of as the sales pitch for your research.
  6. Ask what he/she/they think about your research – Maybe they know something you don’t. Maybe they have some insightful feedback, first impressions, or confusions. It’s fun to get a fresh perspective from someone outside of your world on what you’re passionate about.

Has anyone else thought about this? How do you talk to “normal” people about research or academia? Any other suggestions? Something to add to my personal checklist? Mistakes I’ve made?

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Falling In Love With an Article (And Other Strange Experiences)

I feel as if this post is a bit of a nerd confession. I fell in love with a journal article during my spring semester of the doctoral program. In addition to the wonders of this article, I look forward to using  the diary-interview method in my research on young adults one day. Here is the citation for this glorious article:

Zimmerman, D. (1977). The diary: “Diary-interview method.” Urban Life, 5(4), 479–489.

The Zimmerman article for your reading pleasure

Part of me loves Zimmerman’s writing because it reads (at least to me) slightly cheeky. I have a great appreciation for humor in scholarly work. It’s difficult to pull it off and I’m not entirely sure humor is “approved” of in academic writing.  After reading so many well-written but dense and dry during my first year , coming across a piece of writing that studies “the counter-culture” and asks the question, “why had a particular diarist not gotten stoned before going to a Chinese restaurant…” (1977, p. 492). Why not indeed.

Along with this unusual (?) love, I’ve become drawn to a few theories . It has been an interesting experience to find myself fascinated by an area that only a year I found extremely intimidating. Savolainen’s Everyday Life Information Seeking, Dervin’s Sense-Making, and  Siemen’s Connectivism. Maybe lecturing undergrads on IB models inspired me more than it did anyone else….

Other current social media and tech obsessions include infographics, 3D printers, MakerSpaces, and memes (of the cat variety in particular).

In closing, I will leave you with my favorite quote from Zimmerman’s article.

We should note that if the diaries we collected were to be constructed as exhaustive records of the diarists’ activities, we would have to conclude that this group was characterized by extraordinary bladder and bowel capabilities, since no instance of the elemental act of elimination was reported.” (Zimmerman, 1997, p. 487).

Anyone else have a strange love or obsession? Am I all alone in my strangeness?

A Post In Which I Stress About My Disseration Unnecessarily

Now that I’m in my second year of the doctoral program, I’ve been asked more and more about my dissertation topic. So far my reply has been somewhat vague and confusing (both to me and to the person). Usually I respond with words like ‘social media’, ‘young adults’, ‘informal learning’, and ‘libraries’. This doesn’t feel or sound like the correct response for a second year doctoral student. I have so many research ideas and curiosities that it is hard to wrap my mind around the idea of narrowing it down to just one focus. Then, I start to think, “should I have a complete and well honed dissertation title? Has everyone else in my cohort figured out exactly what direction they going with their dissertation? where should I go with this? what am I suppose to say!?!?”. If there is one thing I’m a professional at, it’s becoming pointlessly anxious about pretty much anything. It’s all too easy for me to compare where I am in my work with other doctoral students and stress out about how far behind I am (or seem to be). This is probably a common activity among doctoral students. I tell myself that anyway.

Luckily, this week I met with my major professor, settling some of my anxieties and concerns.  I even have a few theories that I’m excited about researching more. I feel much more comfortable with the direction I’m heading, even though I still have some uncertainties and confusions. At least my dissertation topic is better than these. Although it’s definitely less interesting and not nearly as sexy. I imagine I will continue to adjust and modify my dissertation focus, at least a little bit. This is probably the norm. Right??? Now, hopefully, my response when people ask about my dissertation will be slight more intelligent and focused (at least sound like it is…). At this point, I still have a lot of thinking to do about my dissertation, so don’t ask me about it just yet! If you do, I imagine I will still look at you blankly (probably for just a few seconds anyway).

For my fellow doctoral students: At what point in the program did you figure out your dissertation topic? How do/did you respond to people who ask/asked about your dissertation as you were figuring out where to go with it? What do you stress or feel anxious about as far as your dissertation goes?

Hopefully not me. But I understand the feeling.

Hopefully not me. But I understand the feeling.

Panic at the Lecture Hall a.k.a. My First Lecture

Monday at 12:20 PM marks the start of my first ever experience lecturing! **some sort of nervous, tense music plays** 150+ undergraduates will be perched in their seats, staring at me, probably hoping for the end of class. Ideally from my lecture, they will learn more about information behaviors, needs, and use, each of which I am interested in as a information studies researcher. My belief (and what I’ve heard from others) is that larger groups are much easier to speak in from of than small groups, like a doctoral seminar. We shall see! I’ve found (to my delight) that I enjoy my lab session immensely. My session has around 50 students, so I am becoming more accustomed to speaking in front of larger groups.

At the moment I’m managing my lecture related stress reasonably well. I have received a great deal of support and advice from friends, colleagues, and students. As almost everyone knows, fear of public speaking is extremely common. However, as an introvert, I find that I experience intense panic instead of the more normal (and healthier) nervousness before a presentation. More often than not, my presentations are relatively successful. I’ve only had a few presentation or other public speaking types of engagements that have been crash and burn situations. Sigh.

While I’m terrified at thought of lecturing, I’m also, surprisingly enough, somewhat excited! I’m incorporating Twitter into my lecture, which I am expecting the students will enjoy (please!). Since my lecture is on information behaviors, I couldn’t think of a better way to really grasp this concept than by experiencing it first-hand. I will ask the students to tweet any questions, comments, or confusions to our class hashtag #infosci. Additionally, students will be required to tweet during the class session three interesting, important, and/or surprising things they have learned from my lecture or the course readings. I’ve never taken a course that incorporated social media in the classroom, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the students respond, as well as how I well/poorly I carry the whole thing out). Look forward to a future post on my experience.  I don’t believe in luck, so please wish me something good for Monday!

Has anyone used social media in the classroom? What have your experiences been like? Would you recommend it to others?

In your experience, what are some the benefits and drawbacks to social media in education?

I Have a Little Theory About That.

Earlier this month, I received the go ahead to start writing my literature review. Hooray! It’s been fun taking all the research about cyberbullying I’ve been accumulating in my head and putting it on paper where it can do some work. I have my outline for the review all neatly organized, but I’m still lacking something. That something is my theory. Very little theory has been used in the cyberbullying literature. This will be my first “real” (non-assignment related) attempt at applying theory to my own research. It’s both mildly terrifying and thrilling.

I’ve run into a roadblock with my first stab at theorizing cyberbullying. I worked with Elfreda Chatman’s theory of information poverty, trying to see how it could be used in cyberbullying. After a meeting with a faculty member who knows far more about information poverty and Chatman than I could ever hope, it seems the theory doesn’t fit as well as I hoped it would. Now I’m scouring my trusty copy of Theories of Information Behavior and other literature to find a theory that could be useful to cyberbullying research. Although I had a doctoral seminar in theory last spring, theory continues to intimidates me (to a lesser degree than before but still). Whenever I hear people discussing theory, I have this vague feeling that I’m too slow to keep up. Smiling and nodding sometimes suffices as a response. Maybe more people are intimidated by theory. They’re just better at putting on a cool front than I am. I’m confident that I’ll get through this and find the right theory (or right-ish?). Being a beginning researcher, I’m a mixture of conflicting feelings – inadequacy, fear, confusion, and excitement. Or maybe you always experience these feeling as a researcher? Maybe the intensity just changes.

Anyone have words of wisdom for a novice theorist? What experiences have you had at applying theory to research? Triumphs or horror stories to share? How useful do you see theory in research?

Theory can be funny?

Theory can be funny?

How Social Media Responds…..

I found out about the Zimmerman trial verdict through Twitter. I’ve learned a good chunk of my news from social media recently. There was an explosion of emotional tweets last night after the announcement of the not guilty verdict. The majority of the tweets were of outrage, expressing intense disappointment with the verdict. I don’t really want to comment on the trial (that’s been done quite a bit already). Personally, I’ve always been reluctant to post my political/religious/emotional thoughts on social media. What I am fascinated by is the way people have taken to social media to express so many intense emotions like anger, happiness, or sadness. Recently, tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing, the Newtown shooting, and the disaster of Hurricane Sandy have inspired tweets and Facebook posts that have raised money, served as first-hand accounts, pushed forward legislation, and offered comfort to survivors. Yet, with the Zimmerman trial the response is very angry and sometimes hostile. Two popular hashtags about the trial demonstrates the strength of these responses: #justicefortrayvon and #ifieverseezimmerman.

The outrage or joy people feel and express after highly publicized trials is nothing new.Recall the trials of O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson. However, what is new is the speed of the news, the quickness that emotional responses can be shared, and the collective passion that social media seems to propel. How much of this is the citizen journalism described by Bruns (2007)? Looking at the Zimmerman trial, Twitter and Facebook users are serving as commenters, recalling (for me) the op-ed sections of newspapers. As Bruns notes, citizen journalism “better resembles a conversation rather than a lecture.” (p. 2). This is particularly true in cases like the Zimmerman Trial. Major news organization have less control over how information is shared and interpreted, less ability to lecture. Social media users are sometimes play the journalist role first hand, One example is the minute by minute social updates during the Boston Marathon bombing. Users of social media have the technology capabilities to report events and experiences in an intensely powerful, emotional, and moving manner. These reports are not always accurate, but for the most part they are heartfelt. I’m not sure how traditional media can compete with the honesty and purity of the social media response.

Some readings of interest:

Bruns, A. (2007). Prousage: Towards a broader framework for user-led content creation. In Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCHI conference on Creativity & cognition, 99-106.

Social Media Played Critical Role in Boston Marathon Response

Twitter Reactions to Zimmerman Run Hot and Cold

Zimmerman Not Guilt VerdictFuels #JusticeforTrayvon on Twitter

 

*originally posted in my blog for EME 6414 Web 2.0 Learning

The Information Researcher and The Librarian

While I was at ALA earlier this week, these questions appeared in my mind frequently whenever I tried to explain my research to librarians: How useful do practitioners see the work of information researchers? What impact do they perceive scholarly research as having on everyday librarianship? Are information researchers even thought of as librarians struggle with budget cuts, library closures, and other demands on their resources and time? I’m a relatively new academic, and I come from a public library background. I find myself trying to answer these questions drawing from my experiences on both sides: academia and library.

I hear myself saying this often (at least inside my head) that there isn’t enough scholarly research into public libraries. When I started the doctoral program I wanted to have more of a focus on public libraries, but I ran into a wall when trying to find literature I could work with. Mainly what I’ve found have been manuals, how-to guides, and marketing articles on library services, assessment, and design. I’m not entirely sure why this is so. From what I’ve heard (or made up/misheard/misunderstood), it’s difficult to find funding for research that isn’t focused on information systems, information management, knowledge management, and the like. The STEM fields seem to be getting the bulk of the research funding. More quantitative, less qualitative. I have leanings towards qualitative research so…..An example, I’m fascinated by library history research, but I wonder how difficult it would be to find a faculty position as a library historian and how worthwhile would others see my work. Is this why public library research is so difficult to find? Because funding and few potential faculty jobs discourage LIS researchers?

But would librarians see the value of research with the public library as the focus? Would professional librarians, who have been educated in LIS literature, relate what they are doing in their libraries to data-driven library research? To be honest, when I worked as a public librarian the concept of “scholarly literature” on information theory, information behavior, information access, and librarianship rarely crossed mind. Yet, if public libraries want to be taken seriously and seen as more than just book loaners by the public, libraries should engage in more research partnerships with iSchool or L-Schools. Am I on the right track here, completely clueless, or overly idealistic?

Random picture of Chicago

Random picture of Chicago. Because why not.