Information specialists - barriers and facilitators to career progression and methodology research
Fiona Beyer, Innovation Observatory, Newcastle University
Background: Information specialists are an integral part of the evidence synthesis research team and at the heart (quite literally) of other research areas. Their skills are key to the rigorous and transparent conduct of systematic reviews and other research. Yet their role rarely provides opportunities for career progression or to undertake methodological research. Consequently, information specialists may change their career path to progress or remain in more junior positions. This raises not only questions of equity but also the problem of losing essential skills.
Objectives: We are exploring the relationship between UK-based information specialists undertaking methodological research and career progression to more senior roles as well as looking at the barriers and facilitators to each.
Methods: An online survey of UK-based information specialists (using Qualtrics software) will be conducted in March 2023 after piloting the survey across a small number of information specialists based at a range of institutions and settings. This will be followed by a workshop in May 2023 presenting the findings of the survey to attendees and eliciting strategies to improve both career progression and carrying out methodological research.
Results: We are exploring ways in which current approaches to recognising research leadership and progression act as barriers for information specialists to progress to more senior roles. Results will be complete in May 2023. We will present the facilitators employed by survey respondents or shared by workshop attendees that have helped them with career progression and developing their research portfolio. These findings will also be shared with key stakeholders.
Conclusions: Recommendations for further research will be covered including the hope to broaden out the survey and workshop to non–UK-based information retrieval specialists to have a wider picture of information specialists worldwide. This project is likely to pick up common themes that may be helpful to those in other applied methodology specialisms. These findings could be of interest to other stakeholders such as employers and methods research funders.
Patient, public and/or healthcare consumer involvement: No direct involvement, but improvements in information retrieval methods will help all evidence-based research and, by extension, healthcare consumers.