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  Mark Hepworth Information Literacy Research Bursary

Remembering Mark Hepworth

Mark Hepworth 

Mark was a key part of ILG in the early years and was a committee member and then joined the Journal of Information Literacy Editorial Board. He remained on the Editorial Board until his untimely death in 2016.

He was committed to the idea that empowerment is underpinned by information literacy and being able to learn effectively and independently and use the knowledge, data and information around them is likely to result in people having more choice. Mark argued that when people have choice, they are usually better informed about their situation and can see alternatives in a critical light. This can lead to people having more options when deciding how to participate and interact in any context - social, political or educational. In his view this is what information literacy is all about. His research encompassed many areas and as a researcher he worked with many different populations: students, informal carers, those with multiple sclerosis and communities in Africa and Brazil to investigate how they interact with and use information to enable them to achieve their goals. This led him to understand their information behaviour, needs and the factors that affect their information experience. This naturally led him to focus on people’s information capabilities and information literacy. Mark was a supporter of the Information Literacy Research Bursary programme and made the key suggestion that these should fund research outside the Higher Education domain and spread the message into the mainstream.

About the Research Bursary

Research into the effectiveness of information literacy has been published fairly widely, but there are pockets of IL research that have either not taken place at all or have not reached beyond the academic domain. These areas include research in the third sector, various aspects of the workplace, citizenship, and so on.

The IL Group set up a Research Bursaries scheme to help to fill some of those gaps and, to do so, are seeking imaginative proposals that have the potential for high impact beyond HE and librarianship. Some suggested areas of possible research are available in the Information Literacy Group Research Bursaries notes. The completed and current projects funded by the scheme are listed on the Information Literacy website.

A total of up to £20,000 is available for Research Bursaries each year, and applications are now being taken for the 2018 round. The deadline for bids is 5pm BST, Friday 1st June 2018. The bursary might be used, for example, to pay for staff to be released to work on a research project by funding appropriate cover for unpaid leave (2-3 months). Half the funding would be presented at beginning of project and the other half upon successful completion of measurable objectives. Different modes of research may attract different levels of funding for example, a literature review may attract a lower tier of funding (£2,500) and field work could range from £5,000 to a maximum of £10,000.

It should be noted that the principal investigator (the person who leads the research) must be a member of the CILIP Information Literacy Group.

This funding is not designed to replace / complement existing academic researchers (i.e. those funded to do an MA, MSc or PhD), but rather to help practitioners to gather evidence or conduct action / field research in support of well-framed research questions.

The IL Group will put out a call for project proposals each year and will consider applications to fund both desk research (systematic reviews of the literature) and action/field research.  IL Group committee members and external reviewers (IL researchers and expert critical friends) will review each application, using the criteria listed below, to ensure that funding is awarded appropriately.

The IL Group is particularly seeking to fund projects that:

  • demonstrate collaboration between sectors
  • have tangible, practical benefits (i.e. produce a new process or product with potential application beyond education)
  • address current issues affecting areas outside of librarianship
  • show potential for further large-scale study, dissemination and exploitation

Potential applicants are invited to read the Information Literacy Group Research Bursaries notes for full details. 

The Research Bursaries proforma includes instructions on the application process and the deadlines for this year’s application rounds.

Please also read our supplementary financial information.

If you have further queries about the Research Bursaries process, please contact:

Dr Geoff Walton:

Completed proformas should be submitted by email to:

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