A first timer’s reflections on becoming a published author

Academic librarians are surrounded by research, it is part of the fabric of our organisations, and topics on which to conduct research abound. So although publishing is not at the moment our ‘bread and butter’ more and more academic librarians in Ireland are becoming published authors. Terry O’Brien’s recent article discusses the research output of his librarian colleagues in Irish higher ed in a recent New Review of Academic Librarianship article.

publishedAt the University of Limerick, research is central to the institution’s mission. All staff can participate in research avtivities in a supportive environment where your findings can enhance the university’s research output and profile, no matter what the topic.

The idea for our research came from analysis of many years of LibQual data; the objective of the study was to measure the impact on library users of noise management interventions implemented at the Glucksman Library (UL) from 2007 to 2014 through retrospective analysis of LibQUAL+® survey data.
The full article is here https://ulir.ul.ie/handle/10344/5279 (Open Access repository at the University of Limerick). 

I had delivered several conference papers, many presentations and written for blogs and industry magazines but writing for a peer reviewed publication was a new challenge for me. Believing that I had something valuable to contribute to the literature was the first mindshift that I had to grapple with.  The literature review and the collection and analysis of the data was made easier by having a clear research question and by being an experienced liaison librarian who had guided many students through the same process. Having a mentor and experienced co-author in Ciara McCaffrey eased my passage in to publishing; together we teased out a topic dear to many librarian’s hearts; the intractable ‘noise’ problem.

Choosing to pursue writing as part of an already busy job is a very personal decision. Devoting evenings and weekends to searching, reading, underlining, writing, re-writing, re-reading and always questioning the validity of your work is a significant undertaking.


Nervously submitting the work to a prominent journal felt, ironically, like a release, a stage in the work completed. Having your work scrutinised by peers brings a degree of fear; journal editors in this case were extremely human, 100% honest and always encouraging with their suggestions. With the feedback taken on board, the article improved, felt polished and felt like something we could be proud of. Finally seeing it in print this month brought a pride, the sort of pride that you feel at graduation, or at other significant life events for which you have worked hard.

So if you have yet to go down the road of writing for peer reviewed journals I can definitely recommend it as a learning experience, and a rewarding thing to do. Putting a new publication, a ‘real’ one now, on your LinkedIn, ResearchGate or ORCID profile isn’t something you get to do very often when you’re not a full time researcher, but it feels nice to do it.

As we benefited from the work of those we reference in the paper, we now have a duty to share and promote the research so that the next author can learn from what we did, and improve on it. To this end we are becoming keen students of scholarly communication, research impact on social media and finding new ways to communicate our research, all topics that will be discussed at a librarian’s seminar in Maynooth University this week.

With one peer reviewed publication ‘in the bag’ I suspect that I may have caught the bug and if my co-author will have me, I would go after the thrill of getting published again.


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