RILADS report

The report on our research is now available online, here:

RILADS final report, May 2013

This document summarises the work to date (Oct 2012 – Apr 2013) on the RIN / SCONUL information literacy and digital scholarship project known as RILADS ( The aim of the project is to deliver a small number of key outputs contributing to a wider investigation into the support available to students, staff and researchers to enhance digital literacy. This report focuses on the first strand (RIN) looking at the identification and promotion of good practice in information training in UK HE. The promotion strategy, using social networks, print media and personal contact led to the gathering of a long list of 42 potential examples. Questionnaires, informed by the RIDLS criteria for describing and evaluating courses and resources, were sent to named people, predominantly from the area of Academic Library services, involved in delivering and developing these resources. 27 completed forms were returned.

The questions covered three main areas:

  • Who is the course or resource designed for, and why?
  • What knowledge, skills and competencies is the course or resource intended to provide?
  • How is the course or resource delivered?

A brief overview initial analysis of these was initially used to identify key themes and patterns in the data. The questionnaires were then analysed in more detail and a number of resources shortlisted and contacted for information relating to the evaluation of their resources.

It was confirmed from the results that the sample focused on post-graduate delivery. Generally, resources had an introductory and flexible multi-session multi-disciplinary focus, followed established pedagogic models, and concentrated on the learners’ current academic practice. A range of internal and external sources were used to assess learners’ demand for the resource, including student feedback, attendance statistics and national debate. Internal policy on researcher development is a strong driver. The current debate on OER and sharable resources is widely acknowledged, although not always practical.
The knowledge, skills and competencies raised in the SCONUL 7 Pillars of Information Literacy and Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework inform much of this development. Referencing, source evaluation, plagiarism, searching and dissemination are key areas, although much wider coverage is evident across the sample.

The courses and resources can be categorised into two discrete types, Classroom and Online, and these can take a blended learning approach. They are primarily directed and delivered by Library Services staff, with varying levels of input from other professional service departments (Graduate Schools, ISS, Teaching and Learning Development) and faculty. It is notable that the (Library Staff) respondents offered a wide range of additional skills they required (teaching, research, technical) in order to successfully deliver these resources. These skills were either gained through CPD or outsourced internally or externally. It was widely agreed that time is required to develop and deliver effective resources, although costs can also be an issue, reinforcing the culture of sharing materials.

In terms of assessing the resources, statistical evaluations and qualitative feedback are used to spot trends and iteratively develop resources to meet changing participant needs. The lack of an assessment element in these types of resources means it is difficult to determine changes in learners levels of skills / knowledge / competences. Additionally, because many of the resources are relatively new there is often insufficient data for detailed evaluation.

A number of self-selected information literacy resources have been evaluated using the RIDLs criteria, leading to a shortlisting of a selection of 15 good practice examples. This is not to say that every aspect of each of the shortlisted examples is perfect – this project is not about finding ‘the best’ information literacy resource – but the benefit of this selection is that those charged with developing resources to serve a similar need may efficiently access some examples – and ultimately, perhaps, that ‘good practice’ may become ‘common practice’. Various recommendations are made within the report, which may be of value to those planning to develop good practice resources. The value of the RIDLS criteria in this research has been to provide an analytical framework for such evaluations (for the researcher) and act as a reflective tool (for the developers/deliverers). Hopefully some of the recommendations and comments within the report, combined with a reflective look at the examples – and contact with their helpful representatives – may assist those attempting to deliver good practice information literacy in UK HE in 2013 and beyond.


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