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In the fall of 2021, I was able to attend the ASIS&T 84th Annual Meeting thanks to the generous Conference Support Award from the Northeast Chapter of the Association for Information Science and Technology (NEASIS&T).

Throughout the week, I participated in a long list of virtual sessions on a variety of topics, from information injustice to data discovery and reuse. With my Simmons University MLIS graduation on the horizon in May 2022, I was particularly interested in panels related to careers in research, taxonomy, and knowledge management. In this recap post, I’ll highlight two of the sessions that were particularly helpful to me as I plan for what’s next in my MLIS career.

Applying Research in Industry: Methods, Theories, Approaches and How They Shape Practice

Coming from a research background myself, I looked forward to this discussion on how to apply research skills and experiences in the private sector. Panelists included Sam Ladner, Ph.D. (Principal Researcher, Strategy at Workday); Laurentia Romaniuk, (Trends Expert & Senior Product Manager, Catalog at Instacart); and Christine Anderson (VP UX/UI at TheTradeDesk). I walked away from this session with three practical pieces of advice.

Panelist Laurentia Romaniuk of Instacart speaks during the Applying Research in Industry session at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting.

1. Get to know your team, their process, and their language.

Dr. Ladner noted that since user researchers are often embedded in design teams, it is crucial to learn the process and language of design. Researchers familiar with design culture are better equipped to understand research requests, articulate research findings, and participate in meaningful conversations with colleagues.  

2. Brush up on the industry and organizational priorities.

Romaniuk spoke of the importance of knowing your industry. With an MLIS background, she didn’t come to Instacart as an expert in the grocery space, but by taking the time to read up on the industry, she was able to do her job more effectively. At the company level, she familiarized herself with the organization’s mission, values, and goals. With an understanding of these key business priorities, Romaniuk is able to ground her work in what matters to the company.

3. Bring creativity to your research work.

Finally, Anderson emphasized the value of creativity in the research space. Acknowledging that creativity isn’t typically a word that’s positively associated with research, she spoke of the value of approaching research problems from new perspectives — from the questions we ask to the way we apply research methods.

Career Development in Knowledge Management

Through coursework and internships, I’ve developed a deep curiosity around knowledge management (KM), so I was eager to hear this panel presented by members of the ASIS&T SIG-KM officer team. The session was moderated by Jeff Allen (University of North Texas) and panelists included Darra Hofman (San Jose State University), Lu An (Wuhan University), and Heather Pfeiffer (New Mexico State University). The discussion ranged from KM career paths to future trends in organizational knowledge sharing. I identified three key takeaways from the session.

Panelist Darra Hofman of San Jose State University speaks during the Career Development in Knowledge Management session at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting.

1. Know that not everyone will be a KM expert.

As Lu An noted, it’s important for knowledge management practitioners to remember that “most people are not KM experts, nor are they going to be experts, but everyone is a part-time KM practitioner.” When you acknowledge that not everyone in the organization comes to KM with the same level of enthusiasm or expertise, you’re able to build a more sustainable knowledge-sharing strategy.

2. Convince leadership of KM’s value.

The conversation also turned to the significance of leadership buy-in. As Heather Pfeiffer noted, it’s crucial to get leaders involved early and “convince them that managing knowledge, even if non-revenue based, is going to save them money later.” With the C-suite on board, you’ll have a better chance of not only getting the budget you need but also of convincing others in the organization that KM is a leadership-endorsed priority.

3. Keep an eye on emerging trends.

When it comes to the future of the knowledge management space, several themes arose, particularly around technology. Darra Hofman spoke of several of these trends, including “social media like Quora, as well as semantic web technologies, especially as integrated with AI and machine learning.”

I came away from the ASIS&T 2021 Annual Meeting with a long list of practical career advice, as well as new ideas and curiosities to explore around user research, knowledge management, and research data management. Thank you so much to NEASIS&T for the opportunity to attend the conference!