Conceptualisation and Practice of Research Support: A Proposed Model for Effective Research Support in Zimbabwean University Libraries

Keywords: Conceptualisation, Congruence, Incongruence, Practice, Research Support, Theory of Action, Zimbabwean University Libraries


This paper reports the findings of a study that was carried out to establish the relationship between conceptualisation and practice of research support in Zimbabwean university libraries. Librarians in Zimbabwean university libraries were seemly invisible in the research orbit. Their ineffectiveness in practice was thought to be intrinsic to the understanding of research support since there has been a call to reconceptualise the concept. To understand the relationship, the study used the Theory of Action as its theoretical lens. Eight university libraries were examined and a meta-analysis of findings using the constant comparison method was conducted. Meta-claims were contrived from the eight group studies and this facilitated the juxtaposition of the two variables. Major congruence and incongruence were found from the constant comparison of meta-claims. It was concluded that incongruence in areas such as services, staff deployment, collaboration, and training contributed to the ineffectiveness of librarians in support of researchers. And these incongruences were caused by, inter alia, poor funding, lack of infrastructure, shortage of staff, lack of management support and an enabling policy. Resultantly, a model for effective research support for academic libraries in Zimbabwe was developed.

Author Biographies

Notice Pasipamire, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Notice Pasipamire holds a Ph.D. from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is currently a lecturer in the Department of Library and Information Science at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Zimbabwe. He is currently lecturing Research Methods at both masters and undergraduate levels, Communication Theory at the masters level and Project Management at the undergraduate level. His research interests include research methods, Library research support, Library and information science (LIS) education, and application of information technologies (IT) in the LIS profession.
Ruth Hoskins, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Ruth Hoskins is a full professor in Library and Information Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She holds a PhD in Information Studies and supervises at the Masters and PhD levels. She is currently the Dean of Teaching and Learning in the College of Humanities.


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