LIBR 285-15
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Topic: Evaluating Programs and Services
Fall 2010 Greensheet

Tom Peters
Office location: Oak Grove, Missouri (Central Time Zone) 
Office Hours: Tuesdays from 5:30 to 6:00 P.M. Pacific Time and by appointment

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Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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Course Format: Angel and Elluminate will be used for this section of this course.  Attendance at the live online Elluminate sessions is NOT mandatory.  Each live online session will be recorded for viewing and reviewing at times convenient for you. 

Course Description

Research methods covering fundamental principles, processes, values and roles of research for professional application in information organizations. Students will become critical consumers of research products and learn the basic skills of planning, designing, executing and reporting research as well as evaluating and applying published research findings. Emphasis will concentrate on developing, planning, and producing a quality research proposal.

This section provides a general introduction to the theory and practice of both creating and consuming research in the field of library and information science.  In this section we will use the goals and processes of evaluating library programs and services as our lens for exploring and practicing LIS research. 

Course Prerequisites: None. However, it is recommended that you take 200, 202, and 204 to gain basic knowledge of library and information science before you take 285, if you have no previous exposure to this field.

285 Waiver Option:
If a student has taken and passed a graduate level-research methods course AND completed a thesis or dissertation as part of a previous graduate degree (as documented by an official transcript), the student can petition the SLIS Graduate Advisor to waive the LIBR 285 requirement. A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree. See Waiver option

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:

  • Understand the difference between primary and secondary research
  • Conduct a systematic and critical literature review of published research
  • Articulate different types of research methods, appropriately apply them, and understand their strengths and limitations
  • Identify and apply ethical concerns connected to primary research
  • Gain exposure to appropriate data compiling tools and procedures
  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles and processes of conducting research
  • Develop, plan, and produce a research proposal that involves a plan to evaluate a library program or service.

LIBR 285 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • Understand the nature of research, research methods and research findings; retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups;
  • Evaluate programs and services on specified criteria;
  • Articulate the ethics, values and foundational principles of library and information professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom.

Course Requirements

Students' work will be evaluated according to the following specific criteria:

  • Identify and articulate a research problem
  • Conduct a critical literature review
  • Collect, analyze, and interpret data
  • Develop a conceptual hypothesis and theory
  • Produce a substantial final written product containing a formalized research proposal

IRB Training Requirement
Complete the National Institute of Health’s online workshop titled: “Protecting Human Research Participants (PHRP).” Completion of this workshop is required by all San José State University faculty and students intending to do research with living human subjects. The course can be located at: link goes to non-SJSU web site

Course Calendar 

  • NOTE:  The live online Elluminate sessions will be on Tuesday evenings from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time.  Attendance at these sessions is encouraged but not mandatory.  We will record and archive these sessions. 
  • August 31, 2010: First live online Elluminate session (not mandatory):  Intro to creating and using LIS research
    • Required reading: Booth, Colomb, and Williams, pp. xi - 25.
    • Overview of course structure, assignments, grading, and other course-related information.
    • Intro to the topic of using LIS research methods to evaluate library programs and services
    • Tips and techniques for reading critically the research literature.
    • Making connections and developing a sense of the state of research and knowledge regarding library programs and services
    • Identifying the gaps and needed new or updated knowledge regarding library programs and services
    • Applying what you read and learn to real, imagined, or planned library programs and services 
  • September 21, 2010:  Second Elluminate session (not mandatory):  Conducting a literature review and reading critically the research literature
    • DUE: Short paper summarizing your critical reading of a research report or article (20 points)
      Required reading: Booth, Colomb, and Williams, pp. 31-101.
    • Overview of conducting research, writing a research report, reading a research report, and applying research findings to evaluate and improve library programs and services.
    • Cultivating and sustaining a current awareness of research activities, issues, and opportunities
  • October 19, 2010:  Third Elluminate session (not mandatory):  Research methods and data sets 
    • DUE: Short literature review on a hot topic in LIS (15 points).
      Required reading:  Booth, Colomb, and Williams, pp. 105 - 170.
    • Types of data sets
    • Methods and techniques for analyzing data
  • November 9, 2010:  Fourth Elluminate Session (not mandatory):  Generating and using findings, conclusions, recommendations, and applications for research processes
    • DUE: Analysis of a sample data set (20 points) 
    • Required reading: Booth, Colomb, and Williams, pp. 173-276.
    • Writing and rewriting your research report
    • Ideas and strategies for reporting out about your research and the research report
    • Connecting and communicating with other librarians and library researchers interested in research regarding library programs and services
  • December 7, 2010:  Fifth Elluminate Session (not mandatory):  Writing the research report and reporting out about a research project
    • DUE: Final written research proposal (30 points)
    • Review the types of research, research projects, and applications of research
    • Trends and future directions in LIS research.
    • Ethics of conducting and using LIS research.  
    • Course wrap-up.   

Course Grading

  • 30 points:  Final written research proposal (5 to 7 pp.) describing a real or fictitious library program or service to be evaluated, the research problem(s) inherent in the program or service, the methodology and data collection strategies to be used, a critical literature review, and a plan of action.
  • 20 points:  Read critically a research report or article (at least 5 pp. long) and write a short paper (2 to 3 pp.) summarizing your understanding and assessment of the research problem, research methods, findings, and recommendations, as well as your assessment of the value of the research and the overall quality of the research report.  
  • 20 points:  Analyze a sample set of data (obtained directly by you or from the instructor), noting the assumptions, definitions, strengths, and limitations of the type of data set you have chosen.  
  • 15 points:  Compile a quick, short literature review (20-25 items) containing recent blog posts, wiki entries, journal and newsletter articles, Tweets, videos, online programs, virtual world events, and other rapidly deployed info sources on a hot topic in librarianship that contains a program or service evaluative research opportunity.  Briefly describe a research question you might like to pursue based on this quick, short lit review. 
  • 10 points:  Post at least one comment or question about each of the weekly discussion topics that will be conducted via Angel. 
  • 5 points:  Complete the mandatory IRB training requirement. 
  • Penalty for late work:  Beginning 48 hours after an assignment is due, for each subsequent day an assignment is past due, 5 percent of the total available points will be automatically subtracted from the grade, in fairness to students who submit their work on time.   

Textbooks and Readings

Required Textbook:

  • Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (2008). The Craft of Research (3rd ed.). University of Chicago Press. Available through Amazon: 0226065669. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100 A
94 to 96 A minus
91 to 93 B plus
88 to 90 B
85 to 87 B minus
82 to 84 C plus
79 to 81 C
76 to 78 C minus
73 to 75 D plus
70 to 72 D
67 to 69 D minus
Below 67 F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation.  You must repeat the class the following semester. If -on the second attempt- you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

General Expectations, Rights and Responsibilities of the Student

As members of the academic community, students accept both the rights and responsibilities incumbent upon all members of the institution. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with SJSU's policies and practices pertaining to the procedures to follow if and when questions or concerns about a class arises. See University Policy S90-5 at More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at In general, it is recommended that students begin by seeking clarification or discussing concerns with their instructor. If such conversation is not possible, or if it does not serve to address the issue, it is recommended that the student contact the Department Chair as a next step.

Dropping and Adding

Students are responsible for understanding the policies and procedures about add/drop, grade forgiveness, etc. Refer to the current semester's Catalog Policies section at Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at The Late Drop Policy is available at Students should be aware of the current deadlines and penalties for dropping classes.

Information about the latest changes and news is available at the Advising Hub at

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7,, requires students to obtain instructor's permission to record the course and the following items to be included in the syllabus:

  • "Common courtesy and professional behavior dictate that you notify someone when you are recording him/her. You must obtain the instructor's permission to make audio or video recordings in this class. Such permission allows the recordings to be used for your private, study purposes only. The recordings are the intellectual property of the instructor; you have not been given any rights to reproduce or distribute the material."
    • It is suggested that the syllabus include the instructor's process for granting permission, whether in writing or orally and whether for the whole semester or on a class by class basis.
    • In classes where active participation of students or guests may be on the recording, permission of those students or guests should be obtained as well.
  • "Course material developed by the instructor is the intellectual property of the instructor and cannot be shared publicly without his/her approval. You may not publicly share or upload instructor generated material for this course such as exam questions, lecture notes, or homework solutions without instructor consent."

Academic integrity

Your commitment, as a student, to learning is evidenced by your enrollment at San Jose State University. The University Academic Integrity Policy F15-7 at requires you to be honest in all your academic course work. Faculty members are required to report all infractions to the office of Student Conduct and Ethical Development. The Student Conduct and Ethical Development website is available at

Campus Policy in Compliance with the American Disabilities Act

If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, or if you need to make special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible, or see me during office hours. Presidential Directive 97-03 at requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at to establish a record of their disability.

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