My supervisor assigned me a closing project that would essentially constitute my “graduation” from Grupo FARO. As the Research Director and a senior member of the organization, Andrea is connected to the research arms of several of our donors. That is, certain donors are more than just funding entities, but they’re also support bodies and social networks of sorts. They seek to support and strengthen research and connect researchers from around the world.
This is the case of two of our donors, IDRC (International Development Research Centre) and GDNET (Global Development Network). IDRC is the organization that put on the Think Tank Initiative and that I’ve mentioned in previous posts. GDNET, whose motto is “Connect South”, aims to link researchers throughout the global South. Both donors provide Grupo FARO with access to academic databases, including the EBSCOHost platform and its subsidiary databases, JSTOR, and Project MUSE. It’s a goldmine of information and any researcher’s dream.
Unfortunately, very few of Grupo FARO’s researchers regularly use this rich resource. They do use a plethora of statistical databases and create their own studies. However, the databases provided by IDRC and GDNET could be incredibly useful for literature reviews and looking for theoretical documents that form the basis of any paper or report.
I conducted a short survey using the handy online tool SurveyMonkey to find who uses the databases and if not, what obstacles are preventing them from effectively using them. I found that only three of the sixteen respondents did use them, and those that didn’t had little knowledge of what the databases contained or even what login information they needed to access them. Some weren’t even aware we had access to such databases. The survey was essential in identifying what I would need to cover in my presentation.
And so from there I began exploring the databases, their interfaces, their content, their search options, until I felt confident enough to explain to my colleagues how to navigate them. I was reminded of how much I love researching and finding that perfect source. From there I built a presentation with Prezi, which is always a blast to use. Finally, I practiced going through the presentation and wrote down some guiding sentences of what I might say. I was a little nervous as I would be speaking in Spanish to a handful of my coworkers, who are all older, more experienced researchers, and native Spanish speakers. What’s more, I realized that the presentation needed to be good. I wasn’t in a class of my peers anymore giving a presentation for a grade. I was in a professional setting giving a presentation to capacitate real researchers.
The big day came and it was sort of a dejá vu moment: I remembered all the presentations I had watched in the library on how to use Dickinson’s databases and other research tools. Except this time, I was on the other side, I was the one standing by the screen talking and pointing here and there. At three o’clock the faristas congregated in main room, where I had set up my presentation and lined up chairs. There was a bit of excitement at the chocolates I had brought. Nothing like starting off a show with some sweets, I say!
From there it’s a bit of a blur. I was on fire. You know when you’re unsure of something, but when you start, it just rolls? That’s what happened for me. I think my preparation paid off. I was still a bit nervous, so I talked fast at times and tripped over my words at others, but it got better as I continued. I tried to make the presentation as interactive as possible and so encouraged my audience to try to do their own searches as I was demonstrating. The second part of my presentation involved introducing them to some tools that could help with citation. And when I finished talking, people asked questions! Andrea helped me answer some of the more logistical ones, but it was nice to see everybody kind of jump in with comments or jokes and it became an enjoyable sort of collective brainstorm on how to use certain functions or find a specific source.
Also, as I’ve been an informal photographer of all things Faro for my time here, the end of the meeting devolved into a quick slideshow at the demand of the viewers. It was a nice way to end the reunion, and I feel that everybody left with a little more useful knowledge and a smile. I only wish I had thought to record the presentation in order to see what I could have improved. I also plan to apply the same work ethic I had towards this project to similar ones in my last year at Dickinson. I really couldn’t think of any better way to end my time at Faro. There’s nothing quite like being successful at something after working so hard, even something small like a presentation.