LIBR 285-02
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Fall 2014 Greensheet

Dr. Frank Cervone
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Canvas Information: This course will be available through the Canvas learning environment. You will be enrolled into the site automatically.

Course Description

This course covers the fundamental principles, processes, values and roles of research for professional application in libraries and 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 focuses on evaluating and assessing library programs and services.

We will be looking at evaluating and assessing services from two different perspectives. The readings from "Assessing Service Quality" will focus on the skills you need to effectively create and manage an evaluation or assessment project. The readings from "Naked Statistics" (which are rather entertaining) are designed to help you become a more informed consumer of statistical information through examples of statistical analysis in a variety of contexts. The goal is not to make you a statistician but rather someone who can critically evaluate the methods and techniques within a research project that uses statistics.

LIBR 285 is required for all students who entered the MLIS program from Spring 2007.

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

Course Grading and assignments

  • Weekly discussion threads
    Each week you will participate in discussion threads. These threads will be based on the "Assessing Service Quality" and the "Naked Statistics" readings. The purpose of these discussions is to both demonstrate and enhance your knowledge related to methods and techniques that are useful in evaluating programs and services. Supports SLO #1, #2, #3, #4
  • IRB training requirement
    To fulfill this requirement, you must complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online workshop titled: "Students conducting no more than minimal risk research." While completion of this workshop is required by all San José State University students doing research with living human subjects. However, this IRB training requirement is mandatory in LIBR 285 whether or not you intend to do research with human subjects. The course can be located at: (you must register to access the course). To demonstrate completion, you will need to upload your certificate of completion. 
    Supports SLO #4
  • Literature review
    The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience reviewing and critiquing research that will contribute to a study of your own, You will compile a literature review of no less than 10 items on a topic related to evaluation and assessment that is of interest to you, related to libraries or information organizations, and can form the basis of the research for your final project. You may include journal and newsletter articles, videos, online programs, recent blog posts, wiki entries, and other rapidly deployed info sources as part of the review but you must include no fewer than 5 scholarly, peer-reviewed sources. The paper should be approximately 4 to 6 pages long, not including the title page and bibliography. All citations must be in APA format.
    Supports SLO #2
  • Data and methods critique
    The purpose of this assignment is to familiarize you with analyzing and critiquing research work.You will analyze an evaluation or assessment study in a library or information organization noting the assumptions, definitions, strengths, and limitations of the research methodology and type of data collected in the study. While the analysis need not be exhaustive, it should be approximately 4-6 pages in length, not including title page or bibliography. All references must be in APA format.
    Supports SLO #4
  • Final proposal
    The final written research proposal is a document that describes a program or service in a library or information organization that is to be evaluated and assessed. Your paper will document
    • the research problem(s) inherent in the program or service,
    • the methodology and data collection strategies to be used,
    • a critical literature review relevant to the topic, and
    • a plan of action for the implementation of the proposal.
    Your main paper should be 10 to 12 pages long not including the title page or bibliography. All references must be in APA format.
    SLO #3

Additional details on the assignments will be provided in the course website.
Note: Assignments (except the weekly discussion topics) are due by midnight Pacific Time on the date listed. Deductions of 10% per day will be assessed for late submissions.

Assignment Summary

Assignment % of final grade
IRB training requirement 5%
Literature review 10%
Data and methods critique 15%
Final proposal 30%
Discussions 40% (2% each)

Course Calendar
The topics for each week are indicated below along with the required readings from both "Assessing Service Quality" (ASQ) and "Naked Statistics" (NS). The calendar of topics is subject to change with fair notice. However, in no case, will the due date of an assignment be moved up.

Date Topic
Week 1 Course introductions

Introduction to evaluation and assessment of library services - ASQ Chapters 1 and 2
Introduction to statistics - NS Chapter 1

Week 2 Introduction to evaluation and assessment of library services - ASQ Chapter 12
Introduction to statistics - NS Chapter 2
Week 3 Understanding the context of assessment - ASQ Chapters 3
Description and Correlation - NS Chapters 3, 4
Week 4 Understanding the context of assessment - ASQ Chapters 4
Week 5 Evaluating numeric measures - ASQ Chapter 5
Basic probability - NS Chapters 5, 5 ½
Week 6 Managing inputs - ASQ Chapter 6
Problems with probability - NS Chapter 6
Week 7 Literature review
Week 8 Surveys - ASQ Chapter 7
The importance of data and polling - NS Chapter 7, 10
Week 9 Focus Groups - ASQ Chapter 8
Central Limit Theorem - NS Chapter 8
Week 10 Data and Methods Critique
Week 11 Customer-related indicators and requirements - ASQ Chapter 9
Inference - NS Chapter 9
Week 12 Satisfaction and Service Quality - ASQ Chapter 10
Regression Analysis and Common Mistakes - NS Chapters 11, 12
Week 13 Interpreting findings to improve service - ASQ Chapter 11
Program Evaluation - NS Chapter 13
Week 14 IRB training requirement
Week 15 Final Library Program Evaluation Research Proposal

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:

  • Hernon, P., & Altman, E. (2010). Assessing service quality: Satisfying the expectations of library customers (2nd ed.). ALA. Available through Amazon: 0838910211 arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Wheelan, C. (2013). Naked statistics: Stripping the dread from the data. W.W. Norton. Available through Amazon: 039334777Xarrow 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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