All posts filed under “Research Process

Fall leaves Photo by Greg Shield on Unsplash
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Rejection

A quick search for “rejection” on Unsplash.com yields a lot of images of sad, wistful white people. It wasn’t quite the vibe I was going for in this post, hence the photo of the fall leaves I wish I was seeing outside (alas, fall has not come to Houston).

Rejection is tricky. I sent out a lot of rejection emails last week. Joanna Gadsby and I are editing a book on the idea of service in libraries and its impact on the practice/theory of librarianship. We received so many wonderful proposals. SO MANY. We can’t publish them all, so we inevitably ended up with a pool of No’s. We tried to write a kind rejection email. Our decision didn’t really have a lot to do with the quality of the proposals so much as the scope, the number we received, and the kind of book we are trying to build. We know that many of the chapter proposals we said No to will likely find a published home in excellent journals or books. We just weren’t the right fit at the right time.

I know this, yet the same day that I sent out rejection emails, I received one, too. It was for a journal article I co-submitted that I was really excited about. To be honest, it kinda hurt. It was scholarship I stood behind and felt good writing. That said, I completely understand the tough decisions the editors had to make, having just made them myself. Their rejection email was so kind. And yet…YET…it still really stung.

Rejection is hard. Coping with rejection is harder. Getting that rejection email was a good reminder of that reality.  A week to process has taken away the sting, and I can write and discuss the experience without FEELING ALL THE FEELINGS. Rejection is a normal part of academia, and as long as it’s done in a considerate way, it’s probably healthy, and definitely a learning experience. I know that not all rejection is kind, and that sometimes it hits us at a time when we could really have used a win. I wish I had better advice than: sometimes rejection isn’t really about you. Sometimes it’s the greater publishing project, sometimes it’s the pool, sometimes it is about your writing or your research, but those things aren’t YOU. All of those things can change, and in a few weeks or months or years you’ll get a Yes instead of a No.

In the mean time, it’s ok to feel the feelings that rejection inspires. We all experience it and live through it. It might feel personal, but it’s really not. We just feel it–personally. I deal with rejection by

  1. Questioning all of my life choices.
  2. Buying a new dress or nail polish (depending on budget).
  3. Feeling generally ok about things and trying again.

It’s not everyone’s process, but it’s mine. How do you deal with rejection in academic librarianship?

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New ACRLog Post: Supported Vulnerability & Help-Seeking

I have a new post up on ACRLog today that’s sort of the writing of my heart right now. I’m beginning to realize that a lot of my professional malaise is rooted in a lack of connection, and I’m taking such joy from learning about relational cultural theory with a fantastic group of librarians. If you have some spare time this afternoon, check it out:

Supported Vulnerability and Help-Seeking.

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What Does Research Look Like?

I’m participating in the St. Mary’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF, but really, SMURF) this summer as more than just a librarian and EndNote software troubleshooter. Thanks to a series of un/fortunate events, I’m a research mentor for an amazing religious studies major investigating Muslim Americans’ experiences at work through a series of interviews. She is specifically focused on: policies regarding religious practices; Muslim Americans’ relationships with coworkers, supervisors, and employees; and their sense of inclusion in the workplace. My mentee and I have an interesting relationship. She’s without a doubt more knowledgeable about Islam than I am, and I bring a knowledge of qualitative research about work in feminized professions that makes our pairing a really constructive one.

Apart from our weekly meetings, my mentee and I are part of a larger SURF cohort of students and faculty who gather every Wednesday for discussions, activities, and presentations of their research in progress. The group is a bit science-heavy, which is to be expected, but there are students from the humanities, social sciences, and theater/art departments in the mix, too. It’s been fascinating to examine the idea of “research” from a multi-disciplinary perspective and learn more about my faculty colleagues’ personal and professional epistemologies. One of the more challenging discussion questions our SURF cohort unpacked was What does all research, regardless of discipline, have in common? (That’s a rough summary since I can’t remember the exact question–Sorry, Liz!).

Keeping in mind that this question was being discussed by anthropologists, chemists, artists, biologists, filmmakers, and well, librarians, you can understand how there would be disagreement. I had at least one person try to convince me that the scientific method is applicable to ALL research. (Nope. Not here for that.) Where everyone seemed to agree, or at least come to a shared understanding, was about the affect and emotions surrounding research.

Research requires persistence.
You have to be flexible to be a good researcher.
Research is all about creativity.
You have to be curious.
In research, it’s ok to make mistakes. You just need to learn from them.

We could all agree on the dispositions that a good researcher would possess, regardless of discipline, methodology, or project. It was a much more engaging approach to discussing research and creative activity, and it’s one I wish I could better incorporate into my college’s curriculum. I’ve tried to focus on information exploration and curiosity in my own IL classes and workshops, but I only see my students once or twice a semester. My emphasis on process and research dispositions is fleeting, which is why I think it’s important for faculty to reinforce those ideas throughout the semester. It’s what I like best about this SURF program. It’s a deep dive into research as an iterative process–a messy, frustrating, confusing, satisfying, engaging, fascinating process.