First article is (nearly) done!

My data

This poor blog has been neglected for quite a while, since I’ve been concentrating all my efforts on analyzing data and writing the first article for my dissertation. As opposed to a monograph dissertation, I’m doing a “compilation thesis,” which is a series of articles (at least three), together with a summary section (kappa).

The first article, with working title “Knowing and doing: The development and testing of information literacy measures,” has been an enormous effort, as it’s based on data from several different samples, collected at different times. I wrote it, for the most part, together with my advisor Torstein, who has provided excellent guidance throughout this process. Just the right combination of “here’s the answer” and “here’s how to do it yourself.” (Plus a good dose of neurons, logic, experience, and patience!)

If I’d written this article alone, it would’ve been done much sooner, but it would’ve been much worse. I’ve learned so much through this process, especially about how to structure an article based on empirical data, and the logic behind each section. It sounds so easy – Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion – but it was actually quite difficult to separate these sections while preserving readability.

This article could’ve potentially been several, since each of its 3 main goals is nearly enough for an article in itself (especially the first):

  1. “to develop information literacy measures that are applicable across academic disciplines, and that are brief and easy to administer, but still likely to be reliable and to support valid interpretations”
  2. “to determine whether what students know about IL corresponds to what they actually do when finding, evaluating and using sources”
  3. “to help illuminate the question of whether IL should be conceived of as a coherent, unitary construct, or a set of disparate and more loosely related components”

Just look at 2 terms in the first goal: reliable and valid. I had no idea how important these concepts are when developing measurement instruments, how many analyses would have to be performed in order to “conclude” anything about reliability and validity, and how many words would be needed to describe these analyses.

We’ve had to economize with words, which surprisingly, is quite difficult. The journal we’re aiming to publish it in has a limit of 8000 words, and we’re currently at ca. 7900.

The research is churning in my head whether I’m sleeping or skiing. I’m proud of myself for being disciplined, concentrated, and persevering throughout the process of collecting and analyzing the data, and then writing the article. Nothing has come easily – I’ve worked hard for everything I’ve accomplished. Luckily, I haven’t had too many other things going on for the past months (social isolation suits me just fine these days!), and could immerse myself in my work without losing track along the way.

The next blog post will be about the importance of information literacy the age of Covid-19. 🙂

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