During my term as a Research Assistant for Sharing Science – a STOREE research study that seeks to better understand how scientific information is shared by academic researchers with other researchers in the sciences and social science fields – I gained valuable insight into the research design process, research methodology, and collaborating with a research team. My primary duties were to conduct a literature review, recruit mid-career UBC researchers for one-on-one Zoom interviews with the Principal Investigators (PI’s) Dr. Luanne Sinnamon and Dr. Isto Huvila, and transcribe these interviews. This blog post will highlight key areas of my work and what I’ve learned through my appointment.
I first had to familiarize myself with the Sharing Science ethics application that the PI’s submitted to the Behavioural Ethics and Research Board. This is when I learned that all aspects of the study, including the content and appearance of our email templates, were being examined; as the person who would be sending out the emails for this study, following these templates was more important than I had initially realized.
As we waited for approval, I began a literature review of researcher-to-researcher research dissemination. Since this research is often centered around dissemination to a broader audience, finding literature on this more niche audience was challenging. Trying different search terms, chaining sources through bibliographies, reviewing my STOREE colleagues’ scholarly sources, and establishing a shared Mendeley folder of articles helped me build and manage my review.
When our study was approved, I began compiling our list of potential participants. Under the guidance of the PI’s I searched a variety of sources, which sometimes involved a bit of detective work. Once I gathered about 100 potential candidates and received input from the PI’s, I began contacting these researchers and confirming interviews.
Finally, it was time to transcribe the interviews. This was my first time doing transcriptions, so I assumed it would be extremely difficult and tedious. Luckily, because our interviewees came from such a wide range of disciplines – from anthropology to zoology – every interview offered engaging discipline-specific insights and/or fascinating tidbits about the participant’s research. In addition to highlighting the research dissemination norms in their own field, many of the interviewees emphasized the importance of broader access to scholarly research and concerns regarding profit-driven academic journals, which was very intriguing to hear about.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Sharing Science and the STOREE project team. This assistantship gave me a greater understanding of the qualitative research process as well as insight into how scholars across disciplines are currently thinking about research dissemination and accessibility issues within academia. I look forward to hearing the results of this study!
Mandy Choie is a Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) student at UBC’s iSchool. Her research interests include information accessibility and diversity and inclusion initiatives within the information profession. While serving as a research assistant for “Sharing Science,” Mandy reviewed literature on scholarly communication and coordinated and transcribed interviews with UBC professors across multiple disciplines regarding the genres through which they share their – and are informed by others’ – research.