MARA 285-10
Research Methods in Records Management and Archival Science
Fall 2010 Greensheet

Nancy Dupre Barnes, PhD, CRM
Office Hours:
(By Appointment Only) I am available for phone-based consultations on Tuesdays from 4PM to 7PM Pacific Time. Please e-mail your request for a private appointment, giving at least 24 hours notice prior to your requested time

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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Students must self-enroll for this course on Angel. You will be required to use a password access code which the instructor will provide using the MySJSU Messaging system.

Course Description

Overview of research methods in the social sciences and their application to research about and within archives and records centers. Research design, human subjects, quantitative and qualitative methods, model studies, methodological critique and evaluation, data analysis and presentation. Not repeatable.

Prerequisites: None

Course Objectives

At the completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. retrieve, critically evaluate, and synthesize scholarly and professional literature
  2. critically assess the different types of research methods (i.e., experimental, qualitative, participatory, etc.) and their applications
  3. conduct a literature search and develop a literature review on a selected research topic using a variety of information soruces
  4. design a research study and write a quality research proposal
  5. utilize popular statistical analysis software for analysis of research data
  6. demonstrate an understanding of the principles of ethical research and the importance of devising strategies to protect human subjects

MARA 285 supports the following MARA Core Competency:

  • Understand research design and research methods and possess the analytical, written, and oral communication skills to synthesize and disseminate research findings.

Course Requirements

Course Assignments
A series of assignments will teach students how to choose an appropriate research method, design a research proposal, evaluate existing research literature, and employ different data analysis techniques.

Details for the assignments will be given at the first class meeting and will be posted under Course Documents on Blackboard.

Students accumulate 100 points to determine the course grade. See grading below for details.

  • Research topic proposal (10 points, due week 2)
  • Research critiques (10 points, due week 5)
  • Literature review (20 points, due week 8)
  • Human subjects review workshop (5 points, due by week 11)
  • Data collection project (15 points, due week 12)
  • Final research proposal (30 points, due week 15)
  • Participation - students will contribute to weekly discussions and other in-class activities, as assigned (10 points)

Course Calendar

  • Week 1: Introduciton to inquiry; human inquiry and science; paradigms; theory; the concept of causation.
  • Week 2: Research design. Topic proposal due.
  • Week 3: Conceptualization, operationalization, measurement.
  • Week 4: Indexes, scales, typologies, sampling.
  • Week 5: Modes of observation - experiments. Research critique due.
  • Week 6: Modes of observation - survey research.
  • Week 7: Modes of observation - qualitative field research; unobtrusive measures.
  • Week 8: Evaluation research. Literature review due.
  • Week 9: Qualitative data analysis.
  • Week 10: Quantifying data.
  • Week 11: Elementary quantitative analyses. Completion of human subjects review workshop due,
  • Week 12: Elaboration Model. Data collection project due.
  • Week 13: Social statistics.
  • Week 14: Ethics and politics of social research; uses of social research.
  • Week 15: Research proposal due.

Textbooks and Readings

Additional Readings
Additional readings, as assigned.

Required Textbook:

  • Babbie, E. R. (2007). The Practice of Social Research. Thomson/Wadsworth. Available through Amazon: 0495093254 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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