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Supporting the Social Sciences: A Masterclass for Library and Information Professionals
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Supporting the Social Sciences: A Masterclass for Library and Information Professionals

When: 13/05/2019
From 10:00 to 16:00
Where: Sighthill Learning Resource Centre
​​​​Edinburgh Napier University
Sighthill Campus
Edinburgh EH11 4BN
United Kingdom

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Supporting the Social Sciences: A Masterclass for Library and Information Professionals

Monday 13th May 2019

ARLGS invites you to a full-day session looking at social science research skills for library and information professionals. The event is aimed at library and information staff from any discipline who support social science research, including those who work in health, law, the arts and beyond.

Supporting social science research is essential for many library and information professionals. Whether that’s in sociology or psychology, business or health, the arts or economics – having confidence to provide expert guidance is crucial.
Yet it can be a difficult area to navigate: whether that’s database searching or grey literature or the research methods involved. This full day masterclass will build on existing skills and knowledge to give attendees the ability to work confidently in this field.
There will be sessions looking in depth at: social science research methods; effective literature searching; realist reviews; and evidence based research.

Academic and Research Libraries Group Scotland (ARLGS) is the Scottish branch of the CILIP special interest group ARLG. We aim to provide a focus and forum for the professional concerns and interests of everyone working in further and higher education or research libraries in Scotland.

You can find us on Twitter: @ARLGScotland If you are attending the event, you can share your thoughts and experiences using our event hashtag: #ARLGSSocSci19.




Please note: some of the timings listed may change and details will continue to be added as they are confirmed.

Monday 13th May 2019


Keynote: Social Science Research Methods for Libraries

Diane Pennington

This session will overview the use of social science research methods and methodologies that librarians can use to inform their services. It will include writing good research questions, choosing appropriate data collection and analysis techniques to answer those questions, ensuring high-quality and reliable, results, and how to write up and implement your findings into practice. There will be a presentation followed by small group discussion.


Case Study: Collecting the 1980s – some thoughts on how to present 2.9 million publications

Graeme Hawley

During the 1980s, the National Library of Scotland added almost 3 million publications to its collections. How do you approach such a massive body of evidence, and what is it even evidence of? What could be revealed by this body of mass data, and what might the corpuses within it look like? What treasures emerge from the vast scale of this collection, and how might they be used to support research, provide enjoyment, and engage people with the recent past? This is a presentation that will take you back to the future.


Keynote: Hot Tips for thorough and effective social science literature searching

Lauren Smith

In this session, Lauren will first provide context to why searching for social science literature is rarely neat and never tidy, and how LIS practitioners’ conceptions of the information landscape can be developed. Then she will focus on some key problems faced when searching the  literature, and how search techniques can address these issues. Participants are invited to BYOP (Bring Your Own Problem) with the aim of collaboratively identifying solutions to real challenges, based on experiences within the group. Finally, Lauren will recommend specific specialist resources that may be of use to LIS practitioners and services users in related areas.




Keynote: Rapid reviews and the research process: how and when researchers use them

Sally Brown

In this presentation I will consider the role of rapid literature reviews in the research process, from two perspectives; firstly carrying out a rapid realist review as the core purpose of a study, and secondly carrying out a rapid review as one component of a bigger study, where the review feeds into decisions around methodology and fieldwork. I will also discuss the points at which a researcher might trip up on their research journey, and the ways in which we look to libraries for support.


Case Study: Scottish Government Library

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray

Morag Higgison and Paul Gray will talk about the services the Scottish Government Library provides. They will explain how the Library provides evidence-based research to support Scottish Government policy and research teams. Including how to find Scottish Government publications and how they can be a valuable source of information for researchers outwith the Scottish Government. Paul and Morag will also talk about how the Library provides social media and research skills training for Scottish Government staff – and others in the Scottish non-profit sectors.


Case Study: Library challenges within Further Education

Tamsyn Sloan and Francesca Pontini

The presentation will be focused on explaining several challenges that the Edinburgh College library staff has encountered in engaging students. In particular, the presentation will be about how members of the academic library liaison staff choose what kind of resources to present, taking into consideration students’ prior attainment levels, demands of courses at different levels and specific assignment requirements. The presentation will show also how students engage with the library resources and how their expectations and needs differ from those of university students.


Dr Diane Pennington, Senior Lecturer in Computing and Information Sciences, University of Strathclyde

Dr Diane Rasmussen Pennington (@infogamerist) is Senior Lecturer in Information Science and ILS Course Director at the University of Strathclyde. A former academic librarian, she has taught research methods for a decade. She is the Editor-in-Chief of LIRG’s Library & Information Research journal and she is a co-chair of the Local Arrangements Committee for the EBLIP10 conference, which is taking place at Strathclyde in June 2019.

Twitter: @infogamerist

Dr Lauren Smith, Digital Support Librarian, University of Edinburgh

Dr Lauren Smith is the Digital Support Librarian at the University of Edinburgh. She has research and information services support experience in several areas of social science, including social work, care and services, social policy, psychology, education, and library and information studies.

Twitter: @walkyouhome Web:

Dr Sally Brown, Lecturer in Sociology of Health and Illness, Edinburgh Napier University

Dr Sally Brown is a lecturer in Sociology at Edinburgh Napier University. Prior to this, she was Deputy Director of the Evaluation, Research and Development Unit in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health at Durham University, where she led research projects for local NHS trusts. As a specialist in the Sociology of Health and Illness, Sally's research interests focus on young people's health and wellbeing, particularly sexual health and mental health.

Twitter: @sal_brown Web: 

Paul Gray and Morag Higgison, Librarians in the Scottish Government

Paul Gray has been a librarian in the Scottish Government for 14 years. His current role is managing the training services the Scottish Government Library offers.

Twitter: @paulkgray

Morag Higgison is a Chartered Librarian and has worked in the Scottish Government Library for 20 years. Currently she is responsible for the day to day running of the enquiries service.

Twitter: @MoragHiggison

Graeme Hawley, Head of General Collections, National Library of Scotland

Graeme Hawley is Head of General Collections at the National Library of Scotland, with responsibility for their 20th and 21st century publications. He has worked there for 17 years, and is a living witness to the 1980s.

Back to the future:1979-1989 website:

Twitter: @nlsmodern

Tamsyn Sloan, Librarian, Edinburgh College; Francesca Pontini, Academic Library Liaison, Edinburgh College

Tamsyn Sloan is part of the Academic Library Liaison team at Edinburgh College. She is a chartered member of CILIP holding a postgraduate Masters in Information and Library Studies. Included in her professional interests are finding new ways to engage with students and developing information and digital literacy skills and, indeed, developing libraries to meet users’ evolving needs.

Francesca Pontini is an Academic Library Liaison at Edinburgh College. She holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Cultural Heritage and a Masters’ degree in Library Science. Among her interests and practice are research skills for students, cataloguing methods and theories and library services for educational institutions. 



Day ticket - CILIP Member

Full day ticket including lunch

£40.00 (incl. VAT)

Day ticket - CILIP Student Member

Full day ticket including lunch

£20.00 (incl. VAT)

Day ticket - Non-member

Full day ticket including lunch

£50.00 (incl. VAT)



Horizon Suite
Edinburgh Napier University
Sighthill Campus
EH11 4BN

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