Vignettes on the Value of Failure
Burt, Holly Ann
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Publisher:Association of Research Libraries
Citation:Gerald Beasley, Marwin Britto, Holly Ann Burt, Samuel “Scott” Hall, Amanda Rinehart, Lorelei Rutledge, Lis Pankl, and Catherine Soehner. “Vignettes on the Value of Failure.” Research Library Issues, no. 292 (2017): 10–15, https://doi.org/10.29242/rli.292.3
As a data management services librarian, one of my staple workshops focuses on writing a data management plan for a grant proposal. A regular criticism of this workshop is that it is not specific enough and some researchers feel that the discussion session is dominated by our medical researchers. Therefore, I decided to customize this workshop for three sub-groups: STEM and agricultural researchers, the social sciences and humanities, and biomedical researchers. This would allow me to dive more deeply into discipline-specific data services and allow a greater breadth of voices to be heard. However, attendees did not select the workshop specific to their area. Only 44% of the biomedical workshop registrants were from that area. The best composition was the social science and humanities workshop, where 80% of attendees were from target areas. Additionally, overall registration and attendance was remarkably low for all three workshops, ranging from 5 to 11 attendees. Not only did my customized educational material not resonate for the majority of attendees, but fewer attendees meant sparse questions and awkward discussion sessions. In fact, during one workshop, an attendee noticed my search methods when answering a data security question. I explained domain searching with Google and this became the highlight of the workshop, despite not being related to research data management at all. So what went wrong? Did attendees not identify with the discipline areas? Was it too confusing to choose? Simple bad timing? There are so many variables that it is hard to know. The lesson I learned is that researchers may think they want a particular type of educational experience, but experimentation is the only way to know if they are correct. I went back to the general data management plan workshop and our most recent one had 41 attendees that engaged in lively discussion.
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