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The Research Imperative: Appendix 3

Methods Used to Develop 2007 MLA Research Policy Statement

Ann McKibbon, PhD

At the outset, the task force took an evidence-based approach to revising the original policy statement. This approach comprised of a series of both qualitative and quantitative research methods. An outline of these methods follows.

Extensive Review of Literature

Task force members conducted two in-depth literature reviews. The purpose of these reviews was to develop a bibliography on the history of evidence-based librarianship and the research imperative for librarians. Finding these articles led to discussions related to the definition of research, definition of evidence-based librarianship, identification of the work of other professional associations, etc.

Online and Teleconference Meetings

The task force held a series of online and teleconference meetings throughout 2005 and 2006 to conduct its business.

Face-to-face Meetings and Open Forums

The task force met for the first time at MLA '05 in San Antonio, TX, and, in conjunction with the task force revising the education policy statement, held its first open forum. Attendees were asked to brainstorm the future of libraries and the impact of research on that future. The task force met for the second time in person in Phoenix during MLA '06 and prepared for the open forum. The open forum was held on May 23, and attendees were given an update on the progress of the task force and asked to react to initial findings of the key informants and questions posed.

Key Informant Interviews

The task force conducted a series of key informant in-person and telephone interviews. Fifty-one librarians and library leaders were interviewed. Each was asked a series of questions. Responses were recorded manually and analyzed under the leadership of Kathleen Ann McKibbon according to broad themes. The themes led to a series of longer thought pieces that provided the background and recommendations for the revised policy statement. Informant responses also influenced the organization and format of the new policy statement.

Questions posed:

  1. Did you have a chance to read the current MLA statement?
  2. What are the things that you like most about the statement?
  3. What are the things you like least about the statement?
  4. Would you suggest any changes in the specific content?
  5. Would you suggest any changes in format?
  6. Do you have suggestions for how MLA should disseminate the revised document?
  7. Is there anything else you would like to add about the statement?
  8. Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of research in health sciences librarianship?

Other informal interviews were conducted. NLM and other library associations that provide funding opportunities were contacted to identify the types of grants they offer to health sciences librarians for the purpose of conducting research.

Series of Thought Pieces

Task force members wrote a series of thought pieces that influenced the content of the revised policy statement. These thought pieces included: "Definition of Research" (Eldredge), "Evidence-based Medicine/Evidence-based Librarianship Trends" (Perryman and Marshall), and "MLA Research Milestones" (Funk).

Discussion of the Published Literature

One article in particular [Hallam G, Partridge H. Evidence-based library and information practice: whose responsibility is it anyway? Evidence Based Libr Inform Prac 2006;1(3):88 –94.] helped the task force articulate its philosophy about the role of research of health sciences librarianship. Discussion of this article solidified the direction and statements articulated in the revised policy.


Key informants were clear that practical examples would help demonstrate how practicing health sciences librarians can undertake research. The task force took these comments to heart and responded by organizing the statement on the Web and linking the statement to several vignettes that illustrate how health sciences librarians in the field can conduct big and little research projects influenced by their daily work.

Last Steps

The task force responded to several drafts of the document, organization of the Website, and vignettes via email throughout the months of November and December 2006. In January 2007, the task force met in person to finalize the documents. The task force presented the preliminary statement to the MLA Board at its February 2007 meeting. After receiving approval of the conceptual framework, the final document was submitted to the MLA Board in May 2007. Following acceptance by the MLA Board, a "year of research"” featuring MLA's member and association initiatives related to research was proposed.


Appendix 2 | Table of Contents | Appendix 4