Focus groups results

At the beginning of our journey we organized some focus groups meetings and some interviews to gather informations and choose what areas of information literacy needed a new way to be trained. In this post we are trying to summarize the results of this process.

The sample is formed by 38 people in total, spread in all five partners’ countries. They were mainly researchers from R1 to R3; some of them are professors or both professors and researchers.
The sample had the most various educational backgrounds and research areas, but were for the larger part Engineers, Chemicals , Physicists or Health Scientists.

The first topic we discussed is the perception of Scientific and Technical Information (STI). First the researchers and professors were asked in which work tasks in their job was STI needed, or contributed to the solution of their problems. Then we asked some examples of cases where information was found and used effectively. To reassume we can say they stated that STI is needed in every aspect of their work, from the early stage of preventive research, to the final writing of the pubblication; from the preparation of lectures to the personal sake of knowledge. They often mentioned different databases or scientific documentation sites as the most convenient (and efficient) way to find information.

The second part of the focus groups was about the issues our sample experienced in using STI. When asked wich main problems did they experience in using the information, the researchers and professors indicated many different issues depending on the STEM discipline they work in. The main problems that emerged, although, were Information overload, with the related problem of evaluation of quality of this information, lack of skills and time required for the evaluation, and uneasily sharing of information.
The main strategy in facing this problems, as the sample stated, remains the mutual help with teammates, colleagues or librarians, but some people tend to use social literature evaluation sites or reference managers, such as file sharing enviroments.

As a last topic for the meetings we focused on the process of learning of information competences, asking which competences are in need to be trained, how did our sample learn these competences and how would they like to train them. For the first question the answers were divided in two main areas: Evaluation, organization and choice of the articles and the tools; Communication and visualization of the data. On the ways to learn and train these competences all the sample agreed that they learned primarily via experience and self-learning, but they would like to have more Courses, Tutorials and Group Workshops on these topics.

In conclusion, you can see how these focus groups did help us in the process of creating our first training courses:
The first topic of these interviews did state that Science Technical Information is crucial in everiday’s research and teaching work and highlighted some decisive, but not always sufficient, tools used on the field.
The second topic managed to focus our attention on the major issue of evaluating process in information literacy: due to information overload, it became more and more decisive to develop skills in this direction.
Finally the third topic, besides reaffirming the evaluation of articles and journals as an important competence in STEM disciplines, made us craft our course as an online group workshop, like the ones we have in Belgium, Italy and Latvia, or as an online course in autonomous learning, like the ones we have in Portugal and Spain.