Research Methods for Information Research
6. Practitioners as researchers
6.1 The manager as researcher
Managers in organisations where there is substantial paper flow often complain about overload. Most of this work is routine and manageable but there may be some types of communication that give rise to an undue amount of work. We sometimes persuade managers to introduce some form of second out-tray (or electronic equivalent) to single out the items that are giving pause – these can then be the focus of discussion to see whether we are talking about too much information or other types of decision problem that are of interest to the researcher and where more clarity may help the manager. (A similar type of exercise can be performed in e-communication environments by getting managers to tag problem messages.)
When we recently conducted research into how librarians can gauge the impact of their services (as distinct from service efficiency) the research programme consisted of a series of training workshops with different management teams in which they wrestled with the issues and reported on their reflections. This resulted in rigorous and systematic addressing of the issues. The library managers were happy to be involved because they learnt more about an important issue for them; much of the research information was contributed directly by the managers – and we hope the research was valuable15.