LIBR 285-08
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Spring 2012 Greensheet

Dr. Timothy J. Dickey
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10am Pacific time, or by appointment. Your email questions about any other course question during the week should be answered within 24 hours.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
D2L Login and Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

D2L Information: This course will be available beginning Jan. 25. You will be enrolled into the site automatically. I will send more information about course access as we approach this date through MySJSU.

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.

Specfically, this course will introduce you to the methods used by researchers in various fields of human history, from the selection and evlatuion of both primary and secondary documents, to the research plan, and through the research project. By means of your central research proposal, you will experience the process of historical research, either for your own library history interests, or to assist historical researchers as a librarian or archivist. The emphasis in both course readings and written assigments will on the practical applications of historical research techniques.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR200, LIBR202, LIBR204, and demonstrated writing proficiency required.

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;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles and processes of conducting research;
  • Articulate the research method(s) covered in the course, appropriately apply them, and understand their strengths and liabilities;
  • Understand appropriate data collection/analysis tools, and ethical concerns related to research.

LIBR 285 supports the following MLIS Core Competency:

  • 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. (Competency L)

Course Requirements

Students' work will be evaluated according to the following specific criteria:
Identify research problem, conduct critical literature review and analysis, collect data, develop a conceptual hypothesis and theory, and produce a formalized research proposal or a research report.

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

WEEKLY READINGS: Please complete any assigned readings each week before viewing the PowerPoint file for the week. Most readings come either from the two required textbooks (available at the SJSU online bookstore), or from supplements provided. 

WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS are due by 5pm Eastern time on the Sunday of the week in which they are due. Please verify that your sources are cited properly and consistently according to the citation format of the Chicago Manual of Style; SJSU uses APA citation format in most courses, but the various historical fields use Chicago much more often.  You may review the different citation format at

PARTICIPATION (10% of final grade): Each student is expected to contribute at least one substantial post to each online discussion board, with substantive comments or critical questions on one or more of the course readings or topics, and/or responses to specific questions that the instructor will raise. Each student is also expected to comment substantively at least once to other threads of discussion. 

RESOURCE REVIEW (10% of final grade): Each student will compose a brief 1-2 page review of a specific historical reference source of their choice. Please choose a major reference source in an area of particular interest to you, and feel free to consult with me about selections. In your review, you should give a sense for the breadth of information present, the types of primary and/or secondary sources to which your resource can point a user, and the most pertinent strengths, weaknesses, and biases within the specific field of study. Due Feb. 12.

LIBRARY HISTORY CRITIQUE (10%): The final weeks of the semester will be devoted to reading published examples of research in the field of library history. You will be writing a brief (1-2 page) evaluation of some library history. Due May 6.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL: The bulk of your work in this course will be a series of assignments taking you through the stages of a complete proposal in historical research:

  • ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY (10%): Select any topic in historical research that is of interest to you – this can be political history, economic history, social history, library history, art history, etc. etc., and clear it with me SOON. For your first stage, you should assemble a bibliography of at least 10 reputable resources on the topic, and create a bibliography containing proper Chicago Manual citations for each, and 2-3 sentences of evaluative annotations on the source. Due Feb. 26.
  • BIBLIOGRAPHIC ESSAY AND PROBLEM STATEMENT (15%): As an expansion of your first stage, please compose a prose discussion of the state of research into your topic, critically evaluating a more complete bibliography, and identifying a more specific topic for your own hypothetical research project. Due March 11.
  • PRESENTATION (10%): For the single real-time meeting of the course, you should prepare a very brief overview of your research topic, 5 minutes MAXIMUM. You may use Powerpoint or Prezzi, or text alone, etc. Consider this presentation a practical exercise in communicating the purpose and importance of your research to peers. COLLABORATE SESSION Tuesday, March 20.
  • COMPLETE RESEARCH PROPOSAL (15% credit for first draft, 20% for final): Your main contribution to the coursework will be a complete proposal for a historical research project in the topic of your choice, including the bibliographic essay, problem statement, definition of both primary and secondary sources to be consulted, tentative timetable for data collection, and projected reporting of results. Draft Proposal due April 15, private conferences with the instructor the week following, Final Proposal due May 13.

Textbooks and Readings

Some general resources for the research process include:

  • Babbie, E.R. (2006). The practice of social research, 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
  • Patten, M.L. (2006). Understanding research methods: An overview of the essentials, 6th ed. Pyrczak Publishing.
  • Powell, R. R., and Connaway, L.S. (2004). Basic research methods for librarians, 4th ed. Westport, CN: Libraries Unlimited.

Required Textbooks:

  • Presnell, J. L. (2006). The Information-Literate Historian. Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0195176510. 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.

icon showing link leads to the PDF file viewer known as Acrobat Reader Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to access PDF files.

More accessibility resources.