INFO 285-10
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Topic - General Research Methods
Spring 2016 Greensheet

Dr. H. Frank Cervone

Other contact information:You can contact me quickest through e-mail. If you send a message through Canvas, please realize that the message may not be delivered for several hours. 
Office location:
Chicago, Online
Office Hours: By appointment, send me an e-mail to schedule a discussion

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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.

This is a general research course and focuses on the most commonly used research methods in applied library and information science research.

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 Grading and assignments

Specific details related to the assignments will be provided in the course website.

  • Weekly discussions
    Most weeks you will participate in discussion threads related to that week’s topics. Participation is demonstrated through prompt and thoughtful contribution to the discussions. Your individual contributions to the discussion topics and your responses to your colleagues’ postings are both important. As part of the graduate research education experience is to help you learn how to present information from a fact-based perspective, it is a basic expectation that responses will include evidence to support for your statements. Supports CLO #2, #3

  • Learning mastery activities
    These activities provide you with opportunities to demonstrate your learning of key course topics. Activities, such as a quiz or short reflective writing, will be used to help assess your learning of key components from the week’s course material. Supports CLO #1, #2, #3, #4

  • IRB training requirement
    Understanding the nature of research and the protection of research subjects is a fundamental concept all researchers must understand. 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 INFO 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 CLO #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 12 items on a topic related to evaluation and assessment of programs or services within the realm of libraries or information organizations. You may include journal and newsletter articles, videos, blog posts, wiki entries, and other information sources as part of the review but you must include no fewer than 8 scholarly, peer-reviewed sources. The paper will be 6 to 8 pages long, not including the title page and bibliography. All citations must be in APA format. Supports CLO #2

  • Research methods critique
    In this assignment, you will become familiar with analyzing and critiquing research work. You will analyze an evaluation or assessment study in a library or information organization noting the type of data collected in addition to the assumptions, definitions, strengths, and limitations of the research methodology. Your analysis will be approximately 6-8 pages in length, not including title page or bibliography. All references must be in APA format. Supports CLO #4

  • Final Project Proposal
    The final written research proposal is a document that demonstrates your knowledge of the course content. This document describes a research project in library or information science that you wish to perform. Your paper will document

  • the research problem(s),
  • the methodology and data collection strategies to be used,
  • a critical literature review relevant to the topic, and
  • a plan of action and timeline for the implementation of the research proposal.
Your main paper will be 10 to 12 pages long not including the title page or bibliography. All references must be in APA format. Supports CLO #3

Policies on assignment submissions

  1. This is not a self-paced course. All participants are expected to move through the course as a group. Advance submission of work is not generally encouraged and is not permitted for discussions.
  2. Major assignments (except the weekly discussion topics) are due by midnight Pacific Time on the date listed in the course site. Deductions of 10% per day will be assessed for late submissions.
  3. All discussion contributions (both initial posts and follow ups) are due no later than the stated due date and time for each component in the course. Late discussion contributions are only accepted with advance permission that has been arranged at least a day before the due date. If prior arrangements have not been made and approved, late discussion submissions will receive no credit.

Assignment Summary


% of final grade

IRB training requirement


Literature review


Data and methods critique


Final proposal




Learning mastery activities


Course Calendar

The topics for each week, along with the deadlines for the major work products, are indicated below along with the required readings from "Practical Research Methods for Librarians and Information Professionals" (PRM), “Social Science Research” (SSR), 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.



Week 1

Course introductions

The benefits of research – PRM Chapter 1

Week 2

The research process - PRM Chapter 2
Introduction to statistics - NS Chapters 1 and 2

Week 3

Content analysis – PRM Chapter 3
Description - NS Chapter 3

Week 4

Interviews and focus groups – PRM Chapter 4

Correlation – NS Chapter 4

Week 5

Observation and usability – PRM Chapter 5
Basic probability - NS Chapters 5, 5 ½

Week 6

Literature review

Week 7

Bibliometrics – PRM Chapter 7
Problems with probability - NS Chapter 6

Week 8

Sampling and survey research – SSR Chapters 8 and 9
The importance of data and polling - NS Chapter 7, 10

Week 9

Action research – PRM Chapter 8
Central Limit Theorem - NS Chapter 8

Week 10

Research Methods Critique

Week 11

Classroom Research – PRM Chapter 9
Inference - NS Chapter 9

Week 12

Experimental Research – PRM Chapter 6
Regression Analysis and Common Mistakes - NS Chapters 11, 12

Week 13

Avoiding common pitfalls in research – PRM Chapter 10
Program Evaluation - NS Chapter 13

Week 14

Review of proposal writing

IRB training requirement

Week 15

Final 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

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
  • Wheelan, C. (2013). Naked statistics: Stripping the dread from the data. W.W. Norton. Available through Amazon: 039334777Xarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Recommended Textbooks:

  • Bhattacherjee, A. (2012). Social science research: Principles, methods, and practices. University of South Florida Scholar Commons. Available through Amazon: 1475146124arrow 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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