Archive for the ‘shameless self-promotion’ Tag

My breakup letter to academia

Can you be a librarian without a library? I am.

Can you be a researcher without an institution? I am.

Can you be a teacher without any students? I am.

I am other I now.

But who?

I started working in academic libraries in 1998. I qualified as a librarian in 2008, and began my first professional post in the same month. In 2018 I became a postdoctoral research fellow in higher education pedagogies. And in 2020 I experienced burnout for the final time and walked away from academia. This chapter both records that journey and is the final step in it.

Download repository version (preprint)

Coonan, E.M. ‘From survival to self-care: performative professionalism and the self in the neoliberal university’. In Lemon, Narelle, ed. Healthy Relationships in Higher Education: Promoting Wellbeing Across Academia. Routledge, 2021.

Image credit: A. J. Booker


Research Skills: a five-year retrospect

Image by Luz Adriana Villa,, CC BY 2.0

It’s Annual Report time again and my savvy colleague Alex suggested: “You’ve been in post five years. Why not make this a five-year report?”

So alongside the figures for this year’s Research Skills Programme, I’ve put together an overview of how the programme has changed in ethos and direction over the last half-decade in response to changes in the wider HE landscape.

It made me a bit sad that the feedback I got on my teaching didn’t make the final cut for the divisional report, which is another reason I wanted to put this document out here * shameless self-promotion klaxon *. But I also think that the work my colleagues have put in to the tour leaders’ Peer Training and Support scheme deserves more attention. This is what I wrote in the report:

The scheme requires commitment on both sides. It is not merely about passing on wisdom in a one-way relationship, but about dialogue and sharing of experience between the partners …. Participants on the scheme have to date responded with zest and enthusiasm, willingly making time for their own and their colleagues’ professional development in an outstandingly positive way.

That bit didn’t make the divisional report final cut either, so I want to shout about it here instead!


Image by Luz Adriana Villa,, CC BY 2.0

Manifesto, part II: the research jigsaw revisited

While I’m in full-on manifesto mode, here’s an updated version of the research jigsaw. The content is very similar to the version I blogged previously, but I’ve tidied up the phrasing a bit and moved a few pieces around …


I use the graphic with course leaders, students and researchers as a way of showing where information-handling behaviours and values fit within the academic learning journey. I’ve found it useful because it illustrates recognisable aspects of the research process alongside some less familiar ones, which may be threshold concepts in themselves, and it helps me situate what I talk about in a way that makes it more relevant to what they’re doing as researchers.

I presented about the jigsaw and how I use it at the ALDinHE conference in March – the slides are available on Slideshare. I’ve also made a downloadable version which includes the blank jigsaw template, so if you want to make a version with alternative pieces you can!

Research Skills Programme: a year in numbers

Highlights of the Research Skills Programme, 2010-11

1178 participants on sessions provided by Cambridge University Library Training

128 taught sessions

57 orientation tours

30 trainers and tour leaders

16 bespoke courses for departments and colleges

15 subject resource courses

9 information skills courses

7 special collections courses

2 conference papers

1 article in press

1 Arcadia project

Are we there yet?

Here’s the abstract for my (as yet unwritten) talk at the ALPSP conference in September, called ‘Are we there yet? Digital discovery routes and e-textbooks’ . All constructive feedback gratefully received!

Unlike the printed book, digital material can effectively reside in many places at once. As Clay Shirky writes, where there is no physical constraint, “there is no shelf … the links alone are enough”. But where should we put the links to maximise the discoverability of e-textbooks by library users? What pathways are our users following, and where do they start?

Recent research on the information needs and behaviour of students and researchers reveals gaps not just between demand and provision, but also between the ways in which libraries present information and the places our users look for it. This talk will look at how libraries are moving to close these gaps and to discover the information routes that our users are taking in the digital age.