The Impact of Doctoral Research in Information Science and Librarianship

Conclusions and recommendations

The foregoing report leads to relatively straightforward conclusions: first, in respect of the value of the awards for the students themselves, it is quite clear that the majority felt that the award not only benefited their careers but also benefited them personally in other ways, from giving a feeling of accomplishment to providing a high degree of intellectual satisfaction. Secondly, and also personally, the successful completion of the Ph.D. had financial consequences for the holders, partly as a result of their career advancement within academia, but also outside academic in demonstrating the intellecual ability to cope with novel situations in new occupations.

The awards have also helped to advance the disciplines of librarianship and information science by demonstrating that work conducted by the holders of the awards carry out work that is recognized internationally as of value. The two case studies of Ellis and Grindley show that this impact can be of a considerable order when the work is of a high quality and originality.

There are, however, conclusions of other kinds: first, it has been difficult to obtain information on awards that have been held in departments other than those of librarianship and information science; secondly, in all cases, the quality of records kept by departments has been poor and it proved difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to obtain information on the present location of award holders; finally, it is evident, as the two case studies suggest, that performance is likely to be higher in departments with a well-established research culture.

The recommendations to be made follow directly from the report and from the conclusions presented above:

a) the value of the awards to the individual and to the field suggests that they should continue, although it is recognized that, with the transfer of the awards to the Humanities Research Board, the role of the British Library Research and Innovation Centre (BLRIC) is limited;

b) pressure should be put upon award-holding departments to maintain effective records so that follow-up investigations of this kind may be carried out at regular intervals;

c) consideration should be given to ensuring that awards go to individuals wishing to join established research groups so that the development of the field can proceed in an integrated manner. The successive Research Assessment Exercises provide a means whereby this can be assured;

d) award holders should report to the funding agency on the completion of their period of research, setting out the range of outputs that has been produced, so that monitoring impact may be undertaken more readily; and

e) the Humanities Research Board should be advised by the BLRIC that a regular process of monitoring the impact of the research awards can have value for decisions on the number to be awarded in the future and the subject scope of awards that may be desirable.

Mary Dykstra Lynch and T.D. Wilson©British Library Board 1997