LIBR 285-02
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Fall 2013 Greensheet

Dr. Christine Hagar
Office Hours:
Virtually, via e-mail, Blackboard IM drop-in office hours - TBA on the D2L course website, and telephone advising by appointment.

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This course will be available via D2L beginning Wednesday, August 21st 12:00 AM. You will be enrolled into the site automatically.  

Course Description

Covers 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 evaluating, planning, designing, executing, and applying research. In addition to a general research methods class, which examines a variety of research methodologies, SLIS offers a number of applied or specialized sections of LIBR 285 for students to choose from.

This section provides a general introduction to research methods frequently used in library and information science research (e.g. survey, interview, historical research, focus groups). The course takes you through the steps to develop and produce a research proposal on a topic of your choice.

LIBR 285 is required for all students who entered the MLIS program from Spring 2007. Effective for students who enter the program in Fall 2010 LIBR 285 must be taken within the first 24 units.

Waiver of LIBR 285: See Waiver option for those who completed a graduate-level methods course AND completed a thesis or dissertation as part of a previous graduate degree.

Course Requirements


  • Participation and Engagement (Supports SLO #1, SLO #2, SLO #3, SLO #4)
    Students are required to actively participate in class, make thoughtful contributions to class discussions, complete activities as posted on the course website, critique published research papers, and give updates on their research proposal (20 points).
  • IRB Training Requirement (Supports SLO #4
    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 (5 points).
  •  Literature Review (Supports SLO#1, SLO#2)
    Students will write a brief review of the literature related to their chosen research topic. The review will summarize and synthesize previous studies related to the research area (10 points).
  • Data Collection Method (Supports SLO #3)
    Students will select a data collection method e.g. survey, interview, focus group - give examples of how the method is used in LIS, discuss the strengths and limitations of the method, and discuss how the method is appropriate to use in the research proposal (15 points).
  • Data Analysis Quiz (Supports SLO#4)
    Students will choose to answer one set of multiple-choice questions: either a set of questions on qualitative data analysis, or a set of questions on quantitative data analysis (10 points).
  • Research Proposal (Supports SLO #1, SLO#2, SLO#3, SLO#4)
    Students will write a research proposal appropriate for a Master's thesis. The proposal will include: problem statement, background to the topic, research questions, significance of the study, brief literature review, data collection method/s and method/s for data analysis (30 points).
  • Research Proposal Presentation (Supports SLO#1, SLO#2, SLO#3, SLO#4)
    Students will present an overview of their research proposal which will be shared with classmates (10 points).

Further information about the assignments and rubrics are posted on the D2L course website.

Course Calendar - subject to change with fair notice

Date Topic and assignment due dates
Unit 1
Aug 21
Introductions and interests
Introduction to research
Unit 2
Aug 26
Research questions
Literature review
Unit 3
Sept 2
Writing the proposal
Use of theory
Unit 4
Sept 9
Research design
Unit 5
Sept 16
Ethical considerations

IRB Training Requirement Due September 22nd
Unit 6
Sept 23

Literature Review Due September 29th
Unit 7
Sept 30
Data collection methods used most frequently in LIS (1):
Survey research
Unit 8
Oct 7
Data collection  methods used most frequently in LIS (2):
Interviews. Focus groups
Unit 9
Oct 14
Data collection methods used most frequently in LIS  (3):
Observation. Research diaries
Unit 10
Oct 21
Data collection methods used most frequently in LIS  (4):
Comparative and historical research
Evaluation research

Data Collection Method Due October 27th
Unit 11
Oct 28
Qualitative field research paradigms:
Case study
Participatory action research (PAR)
Grounded theory
Unit 12
Nov 4
Qualitative data analysis
Content analysis

Qualitative Data Analysis Quiz Due November 10th
Unit 13
Nov 11
Quantitative data analysis

Quantitative Data Analysis Quiz Due November 17th
Unit 14
Nov 18
Writing week

Research Proposal Due November 24th
Unit 15
Nov 25

Research proposal presentations (asynchronous)

Proposal Presentation Due December 1st
Unit 16
Dec 2
Course reflections

Grading and Assignment Due Dates

Participation and Engagement 20 points TBA on D2L
IRB Requirement 5 points September 22nd
Literature Review 10 points September 29th
Data Collection Method 15 points October 27th
Qualitative Data Analysis Quiz OR

Quantitative Data Analysis Quiz
10 points November 10th

November 17th
Research Proposal 30 points November 24th
Research Proposal Presentation 10 points December 1st

All assignments must be submitted by 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on the day the assignment is due.  Late assignments will be reduced by 20% of point value per day late. Please contact Dr.Hagar if a medical or a family/personal emergency prevents you from submitting an assignment on time.

Course Workload Expectations

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group;contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Prerequisites

LIBR 200, LIBR 202, LIBR 204

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the difference between primary and secondary research.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles and processes of conducting research.
  3. Articulate the research method(s) covered in the course, appropriately apply them, and understand their strengths and liabilities.
  4. Understand appropriate data collection/analysis tools, and ethical concerns related to research.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

LIBR 285 supports the following core competencies:

  1. L Demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods and of the evaluation and synthesis of research literature.


Required Textbooks:

  • Babbie, E. (2012). Social research counts. Wadsworth. Available through Amazon: 1111833893arrow 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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