My proposal was accepted!

I started this blog the day I sent my research proposal, and today I found out that my proposal was accepted! Yay! The proposal was a 10-page, detailed description of the research that I plan to do for the next four years here in Tromsø, which I prepared together with my supervisors. Now I can (safely) continue with my research and sign up for PhD courses. Although it won’t exactly be smooth sailing from here, I’m quite relieved and happy about this progress.

So this is a day to celebrate! It feels totally the opposite of yesterday, when I was in doubt of everything I’ve done up to this point. (See my previous post.) I knew when I started that doing a PhD would be a roller-coaster, but that it could change from down to up so quickly,  is truly amazing.

I had a short meeting with two of my (wonderful) supervisors today, Tove and Torstein. After “celebrating” the accepted proposal we discussed our progress with pilot surveys (Tove’s interest questions and my IL questions), and the next steps I have to take:

  • notifying NSD about my research (which has to be done because it will contain personal data)
  • recruiting students for the pilot survey and for a think-aloud protocol
  • informing the vice deans of education about my research
  • finding IL experts to evaluate my survey in terms of content validity
  • preregistering my research
  • signing up for courses, etc.

No twiddling thumbs around here! But at least I feel today like I’m moving forwards, and not backwards. 🙂

Otherwise – last night was the kick-off meeting of the committee organizing the next Creating Knowledge Conference, of which I’m a member. It looks like the conference, which will be in Tromsø, will take place on June 4-5, 2020, which is like having a huge party (+ a ton of responsibility) for my 60th (on the 4th)!

Am I on the wrong path with my research?

Some days, like today, are really hard. I’m starting to wonder if I’m going down the wrong path with my research. The survey is just about ready to pilot, yet I’m not sure that the survey questions are appropriate, or that information literacy (IL) can or should be assessed using multiple choice questions.

Survey questions are loosely based on the ANZIL framework, which is in turn based on the ACRL general standards from 2000. These are now “sunsetted” –  removed from the ACRL’s webpages, and replaced with their IL Framework.

So is it wise to use “outdated” standards and learning outcomes to measure IL today? If not, how else can students’ IL be assessed? The Framework, unlike the Standards, doesn’t include learning outcomes, which were relatively easy to measure. It’s much harder to measure using the “threshold concepts” that the Framework prescribes.

This mini-crisis exploded last night, when I read an e-mail from the director of the ACRL, answering my questions about the replacement of the Standards with the Framework, and confirming my fear that even their discipline-specific standards also soon will be sunsetted.

I feel like the foundation of my project has been knocked out from under me. Have the past four months of work been wasted? Do I have to start over with a new research question? Is it normal to have days like this??Bilderesultat for wonder icon

Just now, my co-supervisor, Torstein, came by to discuss this dilemma, which has been bothering us both. He suggested that we reframe the way we’re thinking about the problem. My study, after all, is not solely based on the standards themselves, but rather on the assumption that IL can (at least to some extent) be measured with a survey. And that I think I can defend. Besides – I’ll also use other methods of assessing the students’ IL, not just the survey. And the measuring of IL is only part of my study.

So I feel a little better now, but still as though I’ve been through a whirlpool. Do other researchers also have doubts like this  occasionally?

PhD pitch

Three PhD students, including me, presented our research to the Department of Psychology last week. We had 10 minutes each, with 5 minutes for questions, to describe our research plans and goal – a “PhD pitch”.

My PhD pitch

It’s always good practice to do short presentations, where you have to stick to the most important aspects of the research and explain the topic to people who don’t necessarily know anything about it.

The others had topics related to psychology, whereas my research, in Library and Information Science, was unfamiliar to most there.

I’m lucky to have English as my native language, so presenting at conferences or meetings such as this isn’t such a hurdle.