LIBR 285-10
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Fall 2014 Greensheet

Dr. Geoffrey Z. Liu
Other contact information: telephone: (408) 924-2467
Office location: Clark Hall 418L, SJSU Campus
Office Hours: Email, Blackboard IM, and in-person by appointment

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Course Calendar

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This class will be taught in the Canvas and Blackboard Collaborate systems. Students will be automatically added to the Canvas class site according to class registration in MySJSU. The Canvas calass site will be available one week prior to the start of semester.

Course Description

The course 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, iSchool 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 (case study, historical study, qualitative research, survey, and experimental study). Emphasis will be on critical evaluation of published studies and development of research proposal.

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. Effective Fall 2011, LIBR 285 is repeatable with different content up to 6 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

IRB Training Requirement
Complete the University of Miami's online workship (part of its collaborative institutional training initiative), titled "Social and Behavioral Research - Basic/Refresher". Completion of this online 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 goes to non-SJSU web site

Students' performance will be evaluated on the basis of the following assignments:

  • One written report of research critique (10%) -- SLO #1, SLO #3
  • Completion of IRB training (NIH online workshop, see above) (10%) -- SLO #4
  • Term paper of research proposal (50%) -- SLO #2, SLO #4
  • Presentation of research idea (10%)-- SLO #2, SLO #4
  • Online discussion
    • Self introduction (2%)
    • Leading group discussion of research critique (5%)  -- SLO #1, SLO #3
    • Leading group discussion of proposal idea (5%) -- SLO #2, SLO #4
    • Participation by responding (8%)

To facilitate effective class interaction, students will be assigned into groups (of optimal size of five) to conduct online discussion. The group discussion will be of two parts: critiquing chosen empirical research, and providing feedback on proposal idea.

For the first part (research critique), each member in a group will choose one published empirical study (of different research design/method), post the article (bibliographic reference and PDF) with brief comments and at least one question on its research design/method, and lead/moderate follow-up discussion afterwards. The group discussion of research critique (on different design/method) will be synchronized with weekly learning activities as outlined in the course calendar. In other words, members in the same group will take turn to lead the research critique discussion in different time frames. By the end of each session of research critique discussion, the leading member will prepare and submit a written report of research critique, based on his/her own analysis and group discussion.

For the second part (proposal idea), each member in a group will post at different points of time: (1) brief statement of general research direction of interest and potential problems/issues to explore, (2) refined research problem and questions, (3) summary of consideration of possible research design/method to investigate the identified research problem, with analytical justification (pros and cons). Other members in the same group will contribute constructive criticism and suggestions as feedback, to help improve the proposed research plan. This discussion will be on-going throughout the semester, and each member's leading positing of these pieces will be made by corresponding deadlines specified in the course calendar. 

All written work (research critique report and term paper/proposal) should be word processed and free of grammatical and spelling errors. The APA editorial guidelines are to be followed consistently in terms of formatting, references, and citation. Tutorial, assistance, and resources for improving academic writing skills are available at the Writing Resources Center.

It is students' responsibility to submit and maintain the electronic version of their work until the final grade is issued.

Course Calendar
(The brief version below is tentative. A final and extensive version will be provided in the D2L class site.)

# Topic Assignment/Tasks
0 Orientation Blackbaord Collaborate
8/30 1:00-3:00pm PST
Introduction Posting of self introduction
Research Process, Methods & Design .
Exploratory Research Group Discussion: case study
Measuring a factor/concept  TP - Initial research idea/direction 
Research Population & Sampling Techniques  CS written critique DUE 
Survey Research  Group Discussion: survey study 
Basics of Quantitative Data Analysis  Download & install SPSS
TP - research problem/questions 
Historical/Archival Studies  SR written critique DUE
Group Discussion: historical study 
Preparation/Encoding of Quantitative Data  
Grounded Theory & Content Analysis 

HS written critique DUE
Group Discussion: qualitative research

Statistical Analysis for Hypothesis Testing TP - Research design/method 
Experimental studies QR written critique DUE
Group Discussion: experimental study
Ethics, Findings, and Report
(Completion of NIH tutorial)

NIH Certificate DUE

(Research and Writing)

ES written critique DUE

Presentation of Proposal Ideas

Blackboard Collaborate
(Sign up in groups. Attendance optional)

Term Paper Research Proposal DUE 

Participation in online group discussion will be graded based on normalized counts of postings as tracked by the Canvas system, with necessary adjustment for quality of contribution. Leading/moderating of group decision on research critique and proposal idea/design/method will be graded simply as Credit/No Credit, by completion of the tasks. 

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

  • Basic content as required (70%);
  • Originality and creativity (20%);
  • Quality of writing (10%);

Letter grades will be assigned to all assignments. The Standard SJSU iSchool Grading Scale will be used to translate letter grades to points and vice versa. No extra credit is offered for additional work.

Late submission will not be accepted unless appropriate documentation of legitimate cause for the delay is provided timely. Request for deadline extension will be handled the same way as of Incomplete, in accordance to the University/School policy.

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:

  • Neuman, W. L. (2009). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th ed.). Allyn & Bacon. Available through Amazon: 0205615961 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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