Reflections on the Inaugural Midwest Chapter Research Retreat

In December 2018, Margaret Hoogland had the idea to make an affordable but beneficial opportunity for Midwest Chapter members to gain experience with research design and research methods. Margaret was inspired by her participation in the Inaugural Medical Library Association-Research Training Institute. 

Margaret recognized that colleagues may have ideas for research projects, but they are not sure how to proceed. Other colleagues may present a poster or a paper at a conference, but then put the project on the back burner while moving onto new things. Keeping these barriers to completing a research project in mind, she organized a Research Retreat that was held during the Midwest Chapter/MLA meeting, where participants could have dedicated time for their research projects. 

Participants had the opportunity to sign up for the Research Retreat when they registered for the 2019 Midwest Chapter/MLA Annual Conference. Before the Research Retreat, participants were asked to complete a survey, which provided facilitators with information about their experience in presenting at conferences and conducting research. Additionally, participants identified up to three goals that they hoped to accomplish during the Research Retreat.

Four facilitators: Julie Esparza, Emily Ginier, Merle Rosenzweig, and Liz Suelzer; assisted in the inaugural Research Retreat. The facilitators had experience with research and could potentially guide participants away from obstacles or dead-ends they encountered while doing research. Each facilitator led round table discussions in one or more of the following areas:

  • Think Tank: Participants had ideas for research project(s), but they sought direction and pointers to take the next step.
  • Literature Searches and Reviews: Participants had issues with locating literature to support their proposed project or they wanted to try a new type of review.
  • Lessons Learned: Facilitators used examples of what worked and what caused problems in areas such as designing a study or writing an Institutional Review Board proposal. By talking through these examples, facilitators hoped participants could avoid the same or similar mistakes.

After the conference, comments were collected from Research Retreat participants. Participants benefited from chatting with other colleagues, who shared a mutual interest in research, and got ideas from facilitators on how to move forward with an existing project or to begin a new project. 

From the feedback received, modifications will be made for next year’s retreat: the morning session will be a bit more structured and the afternoon session will remain as time for self-directed learning. Handouts and contact information for all the facilitators will be available for both sessions.

We hope to make this a regular part of the Midwest Chapter/MLA Annual Meeting and Conference. 

Sign up today to be a facilitator for the 2020 Midwest Chapter/MLA Research Retreat. In January or February and in mid-August 2020, we will meet online to discuss the Research Retreat schedule. 

Many Thanks,

Submitted by Margaret Hoogland

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