Book Reviews

Rewired: Research-Writing Partnerships within the Frameworks. Randall McClure, ed., for the Association of College and Research Libraries. Chicago: American Library Association, 2016. 303p. Softcover, $68.00 (ISBN 978-0-8389-8904-3).

Book cover for Rewired: Research-Writing Partnerships within the Frameworks

Attending the “Creating Knowledge VIII” 2016 conference (Reykjavik, Iceland) I was delighted to find conference sessions addressing the integration of writing and research for students. One session was titled “We have to talk about collaboration”: a presentation on a partnership between the University Library and the Writing Centre at Umea University, Sweden.

Rewired: Research-Writing Partnerships within the Frameworks, edited by Randall McClure, extends this conversation to development of, partnerships with, and assessment of information literacy and writing as collaborative and integral foundations of academic research.

The edited volume offers three key sections that document the value of reducing if not eliminating the current separation of writing and research within our higher education institutions. With thirty educators providing stories, practices, insights, perspectives, and arguments, the volume’s content is a solid introduction to and reinforcement of the editor’s commitment to a “reunion” of writing and information literacy. Rewired is a book defining and advocating “research-writing” as a critical partnership.

Contributors were asked to frame individual chapter content using two relevant documents: the Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing (2011) and ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education (adopted 2016). The contributors have successfully merged two discipline-based documents to offer a broader understanding of and perspective on the relationship between researching and writing.

The book’s authors ask for feedback and engage in analysis and reflection to explore the topic of research-writing. It is a book with which a librarian/instructor can explore how information literacy/writing/research is being presented and taught and, most important, how its academic positioning impacts students as developing researchers. The chapters give the reader an opportunity to look at root causes and interdependencies that must be addressed to face the strategic challenge of instructional separateness of research and writing.

Section I gives the reader four chapters that present research and writing perspectives as engaging conversation. An analysis of the fields of librarianship and writing instruction by Refaei and Wahman reveal and confirm the shared common ground of theory and practice. This thread of educational commonality is highlighted throughout the edited book. Acknowledging commonalities and differences, Refaei and Wahman emphasize the value to students of a holistic instructional approach to research-writing. Similarly, chapters 2 and 3 argue for the integration of writing with research as critical to communicating disciplinary research and the development of the student/researcher voice. Chapters 3 and 4 offer the reader practical approaches and applications ranging from first-year to professional discipline classrooms. In the last chapter of section I, the authors provide assignments scaffolded to address and advance the ACRL Frameworks in writing courses. The pedagogical discussion offers best practices for any instructor(s) wanting to adopt the theoretical framework of research-writing.

Moving on, Rewired continues with seven chapters addressing the critical importance of partnerships between librarians and faculty/instructors to achieve holistic student learning outcomes. The content in Section II offers best practices using the Frameworks as guidance and assessment. Assignments, curriculum, and teaching and learning strategies focusing on research-writing offer the reader practices, models, and guidance for instruction. While the specific audience of the authors’ theory and practice is undergraduates, the foundational pedagogy can be extended to address others, such as at-risk students.

In the fast-changing research environment, students are evolving in a way that requires addressing the often separated competencies such as research and writing within the disciplines. The authors offer the rationale and strategies to reach across the fields of librarianship and writing instruction to leverage distinctions and build on commonalities. Rewired’s chapter authors have developed and applied methods and practices for partnering in constructive relationships that can advance research-writing as an effective and sustainable solution to information literacy challenges.

The chapters emphasize the value and impact of the library-faculty partnerships on student learning, retention, engagement, and competency development. The authors put forth their research findings with concrete examples and logical rationale based on experience and research.

The concluding chapters in Section III ask us to be responsible for assessment. Beyond the mere need for feedback, the assessment process required to confirm the Framework’s guiding principles has a purpose for providing multiple perspectives on research-writing. Effective researchers are those who can articulate knowledge and write to generate new insights and best practices. The book provides us with strategic and innovative assessment practice. Essential to sustaining this approach is a commitment to assess learning outcomes and to engage in data- driven decision making regarding pedagogy with research and writing instruction. The chapter discussions address different facets of assessment from concrete challenges of student work feedback to more complex questions as to how much students are learning.

Within the assessment section, Duffy, Scott, and Schnabel’s chapter addresses the oft-overlooked development of researcher identity. Researchers are writers and producers of knowledge. The authors reiterate the importance of student/researcher competencies with the process of research-writing as conversation, as voice, and as contributing to societal knowledge. Rewired offers perspectives on a problem described as a separation of research and writing. Using two frameworks from writing and information literacy, the authors have developed sound solutions and offered corrective practices. The chapters identify key issues and relationships relevant to achieving a “reunion” of research and writing. The reunion is based on knowledge, experience, fact, constraints, and higher education values. The processes of research and writing are meant to be integrated foundational keys to academic achievement.

Individual chapter notes and bibliography add to the resource value of the book.—Deborah Garson, Harvard University

Copyright Deborah Garson

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