DREaMing spires and other tall stories

Well, a lot has happened since I last blogged, so this post is partly about sorting it out in my own head.


The data-gathering stage is over, except it isn’t. We closed the survey on Wednesday. We’ve had a very good response rate – over 80%. (This doesn’t include some partial responses which would push the rate up into the high 90s.) Of course I can’t give detail here but it’s clear that for some respondents, DREaM was a career-changing event. Many others have been influenced by DREaM – technique sessions inspired some to use such methods in their own research. Others have passed on their knowledge and inspiration to students they supervise, so you might think of DREaM and a research-grandparent. I’m imagining a Quentin Blake drawing of a 3-year-old in an adult-sized long cotton nightshirt and nightcap, holding an old saucer-style candleholder just now. (DREaM finished in 2012.)

My immediate aim is to get the survey data into our project report as soon as possible, so there will be much consumption of diet IrnBru over the few working hours.

We had a very successful focus group last week – this provided a lot more detail on the ways DREaM influenced LIS professionals and researchers, and goes a long way to answering our research questions. I’ve begun to analyse the data but haven’t yet fully sliced and diced it into the report – that’s my aim for Monday and Tuesday of next week.

So that’s why a data-gathering stage is over. But wait, there’s more! I’ve just finished organising another focus group in Napier for the middle of August and I’ve booked travel for one in London in September. My next task is to draft an invitation to that focus group. That’ll be a fun day – train to London, learn lots more about DREaM and LIS, hop back on the train to Edinburgh and then a final journey to meet up with friends in Stirling over the weekend.

I’ve also been having some fun learning more about UCInet, and how to feed back into it old data so I can be sure I process new data correctly. That hasn’t been so successful yet, but I’m sure I’ll get there.


I’ve also booked (pending budget-holder’s approval) travel and accommodation for 4 workshops I’m running later this year. I can’t say much about them until they are announced to the world next week, but I can say it takes ages to investigate and book travel, especially trying to find affordable accommodation in small towns. I’m a bit disappointed that certain online booking systems don’t allow booking trains more than 3 months ahead, and I’m really grateful to our departmental administrator for her local knowledge. This enabled us to book a hotel which wasn’t over 10 miles from where I need to be – cycling to an event I’m running with laptop, iPad, GoPro, papers, name badges and all the other stuff I’ll need while wearing a suit would not be good.

Before this, I spent what seems an inordinate amount of time confirming and recording details of venues, dates, catering and facilities arrangements with the people hosting the workshops, liaising with potential guest speakers and drafting invitations. This might be my first ever adventure with using Eventbright ticketing – I’m just a bit unsure whether it’s sensible to have four EventBright URLs in the invitation. It may be better to stick to my original plan of asking delegates to email me to register.

The really enjoyable events over the last few days included a presentation on digital ‘story-telling’ by Dr Brian Detlor. As well as being fascinating in its own right, for me there’s a connection with my main interest, in that Community Councils need to to get better at telling their own stories of what they have done and will do to support their communities, so I’ll watch Dr Detlor’s project with interest. The presentation also brought back memories of reading What is History? – which I really enjoyed – and reading On ‘What Is History?’: From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White – for me, this is a load of post-modernist tosh. (Oops, there’s a tautology!)

And finally, thanks to Hazel and Tim for inviting me and my ever-wonderful partner to a highly enjoyable dinner with Dr Detlor and his sister Liz, our Emeritus Professor Lizzie Davenport and her husband and Michael,  and some of the CSI postgrads.

As I read this back, it doesn’t seem like much but I know I have been working. Getting back to it right now!


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