7050 Syllabus (Fall 2011)

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LIS 7050 G01: Research Methods for LIS, Fall 2011

St. Catherine University, Master of Library and Information Science Program

As of 10/7/11

Credit hours: 3
Time: Thursdays, 6:00-9:00pm, CDC Room 18
Instructor: Joyce Yukawa
Office: CDC 50; Hours: before/after class & by appointment
Contact: jyukawa[at]stkate.edu
Course website: Registered students may request access at http://7050f11.pbworks.com/ Site content subject to change.

I. Course Description

A basic research methods course for those with no previous course work or background in research methods. The course covers basic research concepts, measurement, and quantitative/ qualitative data collection methods and analysis techniques, including some statistics. Because this course assumes no background in statistics, the focus is on major statistics concepts that will enable you to understand the research of others and do basic data analysis. Through readings, class workshops, and assignments, you will develop important research skills for evaluating published research and for designing and conducting your own research project. Prerequisite: LIS 7010.

II. Course Texts


  1. Beck, S. E., & Manuel, K. (2007). Practical research methods for librarians and information professionals. Neal Schuman.
  2. Vaughan, L. (2001). Statistical methods for the information professional: A practical, painless approach to understanding, using, and interpreting statistics. Information Today.
  3. Open access: Trochim, W. M. (2006). Research methods knowledge base.

Please read before the first class session:

  1. Beck & Manuel Ch. 1
  2. Trochim Philosophy of Research (all sections).
  3. Sutton, B. (1993). The rationale for qualitative research: A review of principles and theoretical foundations. The Library Quarterly, 63(4), 411-430.

Further Reading

  1. Babbie, E. (2009). The practice of social research (12th ed). Wadsworth. On reserve.
  2. Gorman, G. E., & Clayton, P. (2005). Qualitative research for the information professional. London: Facet. On reserve.
  3. Powell, R. (2004). Basic research methods for librarians (4th ed). Libraries Unlimited. On reserve.
  4. Wildemuth, B.M. (2009). Applications of social research methods to questions in information and library science. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. On reserve.

III. Student Learning Outcomes

Course Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Understand the elements of research design. (Article Reviews, Research Proposal, Class Workshops)
  2. Evaluate the research of others with a critical eye. (Article Reviews, Research Proposal)
  3. Design and select appropriate research methods for exploring your own research inquiries. (Methodology Presentation, Research Proposal, Class Workshops)
  4. Conduct your own research. (Research Proposal, Class Workshops)
  5. Understand the limitations and problems of doing research on human behaviors. (Research Proposal, Class Workshops)
  6. Understand ethical issues involving human subjects. (Research Proposal, Class Workshops)

MLIS Program Student Learning Outcomes

This course helps students meet the following MLIS Program student learning outcomes (SLOs):

  1. Identify and analyze information needs and opportunities of individuals and organizations. (SLO 1)
  2. Demonstrate critical thinking by integrating relevant models, theories, research and practices. (SLO 2)
  3. Communicate knowledge from library and information studies and related disciplines. (SLO 5)
  4. Demonstrate information technology fluency. (SLO 6)
  5. Promote and model the professional values of ethical responsibility, intellectual freedom, and universal access to information. (SLO 8)

MLIS Program Curriculum Threads Addressed

  1. Research
  2. Technology
  3. Ethics

IV. Course Philosophy & Learning Strategies

The approach taken in this class is inquiry and project/problem-based learning, described as:

  1. Student-driven
  2. Focused on exploration, questioning, critical thinking, and reflection
  3. Goes beyond information accumulation in a quest for knowledge that favors depth over breadth
  4. Seeks solutions, not answers
  5. Collaborative learning using diverse expertise to teach each other

Resources we bring to the learning:

  1. Knowledge of and experience with critical thinking, questioning, and research
  2. Teamwork in social and professional settings
  3. Motivation

V. Assignments and Course Requirements

Research Blog

Throughout the semester, you will keep a personal weekly Research Blog to share ideas, questions, and struggles with research methods as you progress through the course. Posts should be at least 200 words, though you are welcome to write more if inspired. The art of blogging is writing succinctly but meaningfully. Writing can be informal, but should demonstrate critical thinking and thoughtful reflection. Two weeks before the end of the course, look back over your blog posts and prepare a one-page summary of what you believe you have accomplished for yourself and submit this by 12/8.

Due date: Weekly
Points: 21 (13% of grade)

Methodology Presentation

In this assignment, you will gain a better understanding of a design approach or data collection method through researching it and presenting it. Select an approach or data collection method from the detailed assignment instructions that will be provided. You may also select a method not on the list, with instructor approval. Background information on methods can be found in the Beck & Manuel textbook and the Further Reading list that will be provided. Individuals or panels will present their method to the class. Also begin considering your article for the assignment, Article Review 1. Most methods have related articles that you can choose from (see the detailed instructions for Article Review 1).

Your Methodology Presentation should include:

  1. A description of the method or research approach
  2. Appropriate use of the method: Optimal conditions, purposes, and/or topics
  3. Strengths and weaknesses of the method
  4. Specific features, procedures, or applications of the method
  5. Problems employing the method
  6. Bibliography of works used to prepare your presentation/other useful resources

Supporting material:

  1. Post a copy of your PowerPoint slides or link to your presentation on the class wiki.
  2. Or create a wiki page handout that summarizes key points of your presentation, including the bibliography.
  3. In addition, submit your supporting materials (slides and/or PDF of your wiki page) to the D2L dropbox.

Selection of method due: Sept. 15
Presentation due: Varies from Oct. 6 - Oct. 27
Points: 20 (12% of grade)

Article Review 

In this assignment, you will develop skills for evaluating published research articles with a critical eye. The article must be a research paper reporting the basic elements of research. For a quantitative research study, the article should report variables, data collection method, data analysis, and conclusions. For a qualitative research study, the article should report the research approach, data collection methods, data analysis, findings, and conclusions. In your article review, you will evaluate the basic elements of the study and provide a summary of the study's major strengths and weaknesses.

Review an article from the list of selected articles, or choose your own. If you choose your own article, select one that reports original research, not one that reviews, analyzes, or summarizes the research of others. The primary audience of the article must be scholars either in library and information science or other social science fields. You may look into research in other areas such as sociology, education, communication, psychology, etc. You should consult with the instructor about your article if you choose one not on the list.

The scholarly articles are found in professional journals. The exemplary journals in LIS include but are not limited to: College & Research Libraries (C&RL), Information Processing and Management (IPM), Information Systems Research (ISR), The Journal of Academic Librarianship (JAL), Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), Library and Information Science Research (LISR), and The Library Quarterly (LQ).

Due: Oct. 20
Points: 39 (24% of grade)

Research Proposal

The research proposal assignment prepares you to conduct your own research through developing your understanding and skills related to research design, methodology, the challenges of doing research on human behaviors, and ethical issues involving human subjects, as well as engaging you in the peer review process.

Your research proposal should include the following elements: statement of the problem (purpose and research questions), literature review of important studies and relevant theory (as applicable) that argue for the need for your study, methodology (design, data collection, data analysis), ethical considerations for the protection of human subjects, and bibliography in APA format. Guidelines and assessment questions for qualitative and quantitative research proposals are provided in the detailed assignment instructions. You can do this assignment individually or in two-person teams. If you work in a team, include with your final proposal a separate document describing the contribution of each team member.

You will write the proposal in stages, with peer and instructor feedback. We will form teams for informal peer review early in the semester.

You will also present your proposal to the class, addressing these points:

  1. Purpose of research
  2. Main research question(s)
  3. Key points from the literature review
  4. Methodology
  5. Limitations of the study
  6. Prepare 2-3 questions for discussion

Supporting material for your presentation:

  1. Create a wiki page handout of the main points of your presentation.
  2. Post a copy of your PowerPoint slides or link to your presentation on your wiki page.
  3. In addition, submit your supporting materials (slides and/or PDF of your wiki page) to the D2L dropbox.

Draft proposals due: Nov. 17
Proposal presentations due: Dec. 1, 8 & 15
Final proposal due: Dec. 15
Total points: 62 (39% of grade)

Class Participation

Active class participation is essential to the atmosphere of this class because we learn from each other and participation acts as a model of future team work. Please make every effort to attend class. If you know you will be missing a class session, please make alternate arrangements well in advance. If you are unable to attend at the last moment, please contact the instructor as soon as possible. Full points (19 points) will be given if all the following criteria are met: Completing all assignments on time, perfect attendance, regularly contributing to class discussions, regularly contributing in small group exercises, encouraging others to participate in asking questions and making relevant comments during class discussions and lectures. The scale goes down to one (1) point for the following: two or more absences, incomplete assignments, no contributions to class discussions, and little contribution to small group work.

Points: 19 (9.5% of grade)

Format for Assignments

Preferred media for submission is electronic file (RTF or PDF files) rather than print. Name your file with your last name and short form of assignment name, e.g. 'yukawa-methodology.pdf'.

  1. Your name, date submitted, and assignment title (e.g., Article Review 1)
  2. Page numbers
  3. An original title for the assignment, if any
  4. 1” margins
  5. 12 point Times New Roman or a similarly readable font style
  6. Subheadings within the document (your final paper)
  7. APA citations of works cited if applicable

VI. Assessment

Table 1. Grading Scale

A A- B+ B B- C+  C-
94-100  90-93  86-89  82-85  78-81  74-77  70-73  65-69  0-64 

Table 2. Assignments and Grading

Assignment Grading
Learning Blog (weekly) 21 points (13%)
Methodology Presentation 20 points (12%)
Article Review  39 (24%)
Research Proposal & Presentation 62 points (39%)
Class Participation 19 points (12%)
Total 161 points (100%)


VII. Other Course Requirements & Information

Assignment Due Dates

All assignments will be due at the beginning of the class period. Late assignments will be accepted for up to 3 days after they are due, with a 5% reduction in grade per day late. The time restriction on the D2L dropbox is 6pm on the date the assignment is due. If you submit your assignment late, please contact the instructor to extend the time limit for your submission.

Sometimes emergency or other understandable circumstances prevent students from turning in assignments on time. In these cases, assignments more than 3 days late may be accepted on prior consultation with the instructor.

SCU Attendance Policy

St. Catherine University has instituted an attendance policy for its graduate classes. Of note is the policy that those who do not attend the first class session may be dropped by the Registrar.

Professionalism and Academic integrity

Regular attendance is very important. It is very difficult to keep up without attending every class. If you will miss class, you should notify the instructor in advance.

You are responsible for checking your St. Kate's email account for messages from the instructor. Please check your email at least once a day.

St. Catherine University expects each of its students to uphold the Student Code of Conduct, which includes civility, respect for differences, and academic integrity and honesty. Appropriate credit must be given to original creators of all works used. Major violations are cheating and plagiarism. Cheating includes copying others' works, collaborating without authorization, and accessing others' computer files without authorization. Plagiarism includes intentionally or unintentionally using someone else's words, works, thoughts, or expression of ideas without giving proper credit. Please see the St. Catherine University Academic Integrity Policy.

Special Needs

Special needs can include, but are not limited to, factors influencing the learning process in and out of the classroom, such as mobility, physical, learning, and cognitive challenges. Students with special needs are invited to contact the Disability Services office so that accommodations can be provided. Please also inform me if you have special needs.

Emergency Situations

St. Kate's has an Emergency Preparedness page. We hope no one will be infected, but if you are, we will make every effort to allow you to complete the course without physically attending class.

Since St. Catherine University is committed to the healthy wellbeing of our community, we support The Centers for Disease Control's following recommendation: students, faculty, or staff with influenza like illnesses (temperature of 100.0 or greater, plus a cough or sore throat) are directed to self isolate (or stay home) for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. In the event that students are unable to attend classes due to this self isolation recommendation, they should notify their professors of their absence. Faculty will provide opportunities for these students to participate in alternative delivery of class material due to illness.