INFO 285-01
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Spring 2016 Greensheet

Dr. Scott Walter
Office location: Chicago, Illinois
Office Hours: Virtual office hours. Telephone advising by appointment. Please note that your instructor is on U.S. Central Time.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 28th, 6 am PT unless you are taking an intensive or a one unit or two unit class that starts on a different day. In that case the class will open on the first day that the class meets.

You will be enrolled into the Canvas 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, the iSchool offers a number of applied or specialized sections of INFO 285 for students to choose from.

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

Waiver of INFO 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 CLOs #1 - 4)
Students are expected to actively participate in class, make thoughtful and informed contributions to class discussions, complete activities and assignments as posted, and give updates on their own research plan.

IRB Training Requirement (Supports CLO #4)
Students will 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

Article Summaries and Reviews (Supports CLOs #1 - 2)
Students will write two (2) brief reviews of selected, published research studies that illustrate the use of specific research methods in library and information science, e.g., survey research, focus group research. All students will complete a review of a study employing survey research, and each may choose the topic of the second review from options noted on the Calendar (below). These reviews will be due on dates coinciding with the class discussion of the selected methods.

Literature Review (Supports CLOs #1 - 2)
Students will write a review of the literature related to their chosen research topic that provides a summary and synthesis of previous studies, identifies gaps in the literature, and indicates how the proposed studies relate to, or extend, existing studies in the field.

Data Collection Method (Supports CLOs #2 - 3)
Students will select a data collection method, e.g., survey, interview, ethnography, and write a review of its use in library and information science, including examples of how the method is employed in LIS research, discussion of the strengths and limitations of the method, and discussion of how this method might be employed in the research proposal.

Research Proposal (Supports CLOs #1 - 4)
Students will write a research proposal for a study appropriate for a Master's thesis. The proposal will include: problem statement, introduction to the topic, research question(s), significance of the study, literature review, data collection method(s), and plan for data analysis.   

Research Proposal Presentation (Supports CLOs #1 - 4)
Students will present an overview of their research proposal to be shared with classmates.

Further information on course assignments is available on the Canvas site.


Assignment Points Due Date(s)
Participation 20 Continuous
IRB Training Requirement 5 February 28th
Article Summaries/Reviews (2) 10

March 6th (Survey Research)

Choice of 2nd Topic & Date (see Calendar)

Literature Review 10 March 27th
Data Collection Method 15 April 17th
Research Proposal 30 May 8th
Research Proposal Presentation 10 May 15th

All assignments are due by 5:00 pm (Pacific) on the dates noted above, and should be submitted through the Canvas site. Late submissions may receive a grade penalty of 20% of the total points possible for the assignment. Assignment deadlines may be adjusted by the instructor with appropriate notice. Announcement of any changes to course assignments or other course components will be made on the Canvas site.

Course Calendar
This is an initial calendar of course topics and assignments, and may be changed with appropriate notice. Consult the Canvas site for the most recently updated, and complete, course calendar and for announcements of weekly readings, discussion topics, and other assignments.

Week Topic Assignment
Week 1
Jan 26 - Feb 1
Introduction and Overview Review Canvas site, including assignment descriptions and due dates
Week 2
Feb 2 - 8
The Research Process  
Week 3
Feb 9 - 15
Research Questions  
Week 4
Feb 16 - 22
Research Design and MeasurementSampling  
Week 5
Feb 23 - 29
Research Ethics  IRB Training Requirement Due February 28th
Week 6
March 1 - 7
Survey Research Article Review (Survey Research) Due March 6th
Week 7
March 8 - 14
Bibliometrics If Selected: Article Review (Bibliometrics) Due March 13th
Week 8
March 15 - 21
Content Analysis If Selected: Article Review (Content Analysis) Due March 20th 
Week 9
March 22 - 28
Interviews and Focus Groups Literature Review Due March 27thIf Selected: Article Review (Interviews or Focus Groups) Due March 27th
Week 10
March 29 - April 4
Spring Break  
Week 11
April 5 - 11
Historical Research If Selected: Article Review (Historical Research) Due April 10th
Week 12
April 12 - 18
Ethnographic Research  Data Collection Method Due April 17thIf Selected: Article Review (Ethnographic Research) Due April 17th
Week 13
April 19 - 25
User Experience (UX) Research If Selected: Article Review (UX) Due April 24th 
Week 14
April 26 - May 2
Action Research If Selected: Article Review (Action Research) Due May 1st
Week 15
May 3 - 9 
Writing Week Research Proposal Due May 8th
Week 16
May 10 - 16
Presentation Week Research Proposal Presentation Due May 15th

Other Relevant Information:
As a graduate student, you are expected to:

  • Complete and carefully consider all assigned readings.
  • Fully participate in all class activities and discussions.
  • Complete all assignments on time.
  • Inform the instructor if you have an illness or emergency that requires you to be absent from our online learning environment for an extended period of time or to request an extension on an assignment.

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

INFO 285 has no prequisite requirements.

Course 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)

INFO 285 supports the following core competencies:

  1. L Demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the ability to design a research project, and the ability to evaluate and synthesize research literature.


Required Textbooks:

  • Beck, S. E., & Manuel, K. (2008). Practical research methods for librarians and information professionals. Neal-Schuman Publishers (ALA). Available through Amazon: 155570591Xarrow 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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