INFO 285-10
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Topic: Historical Research Methods
Summer 2016 Greensheet

Dr. Anthony Bernier, MLIS, MA, Ph.D. 
Home Office: (510) 339-6880
Office Hours:
by appointment

Syllabus Links
Course Learning Outcomes 
iSchool eBookstore

Mission of the School

The SJSU School of Information Science (SOI) educates professionals and develops leaders who organize, manage and enable the effective use of information and ideas in order to contribute to the well-being of our communities.

Getting Launched

SOI utilizes a content management system called Canvas for class communications: submitting assignments, grades, even e-mail.

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning June 6th, 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.

Our class formally begins on Monday 6 June.  Weekly units end on Saturdays at 11:59PM (Pacific) – and all assignments are due on on Saturdays unless otherwise indicated in the detailed Course Outline.

Course Description

Research methods covering fundamental principles, processes, values and roles of research for professional application in information organizations. Students will become critical consumers of historical research products. Emphasis will concentrate on developing, planning, and producing a quality research proposal.

This section of research methods (Historical Research Methods) will introduce students to the theory and methods of historical research and writing.  It explores the ways in which historians frame research questions, assess current literature on historical topics, locate and critically use primary and secondary sources, and formulate viable and worthwhile research projects.  Emphasis will be placed on the research skills and tools historians use and the role information professionals play in their support and development.

285 Waiver Option
If a student has taken and passed a graduate level-research methods course AND completed a thesis or dissertation as part of a previous graduate degree (as documented by an official transcript), you can petition the SOI Graduate Advisor to waive the INFO 285 requirement. A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree. See Waiver option

Course Requirements

Participate in discussion forums pertaining to historical research and history information sources. 

  • Canvas Discussions. 20 points (10 discussions, 2 points each)
    Complete the National Institute of Health’s online workshop titled:  “Protecting Human Research Participants.”  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:

  • IRB Certification.  (5 points)
    You can complete this workshop at any point during the semester. It requires about two hours.  When you have finished the course, you will receive a certificate, which you should submit to me as proof of completion.

    Prepare an annotated bibliography of 10 reference sources that provide historical background and context for your research topic.

  • Reference Source Annotated Bibliography.  (10 points)
    Locate and review 12-15 scholarly historical studies that treat some aspect of your research topic.  The studies reviewed should be a combination of scholarly writing: monographs and refereed journal articles, but not writing from professional or practitioner media.

  • Historiographic Essay.  (20 points)
    Locate and describe the manuscript and primary sources that you would use in a formally executed research project.

  • Primary Source Survey.  (15 points)
    Provide a short critical review of a classmate’s research proposal draft.

  • Proposal Review.  (5 points)
    Write a formal research proposal.  The proposal will build on earlier assignments and will include an overview of the topic and its significance, a critical literature review, a discussion of methodology and primary sources, and an outline of proposed chapters.

  • Research Proposal.  (25 points)
    All assignments are must be turned at 11:59PM (Pacific) on the day they are due. Late submissions will be reduced by 20% of the total points possible for that assignment.

Course Calendar and Grading

Student Deliverables CLOs Supported Grade Weight Due Dates
Discussions (10) 2, 3, 4 20 points (total) Various
(see Course Outline)
IRB Workshop 3 5 points by 13 August, 11:59PM
(Pacific time)
Reference Source Bibliography 1, 2, 4 10 points 18 June, 11:59PM
(Pacific time)
Historiographic Essay 1, 2 20 points 2 July, 11:59PM
(Pacific time)
Primary Source Survey 2, 4 15 points 16 July, 11:59PM
(Pacific time)
Peer Review Draft Proposal 1, 4 5 points 3 and 6 Aug, 11:59PM
(Pacific time)
Final Research Proposal 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 25 points 13 Aug, 11:59PM
(Pacific time)
    Total: 100  

Optional Collaborate Office Hours: Optional

Topic: Toward the Historiographic Essay Wed 22 June, 6-7PM (Pacific Time)
Topic: Toward Draft of Research Proposal Wed 20, 6-7PM (Pacific 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. 

Holiday Observances
Only University-recognized holidays will be recognized for this class. See the SJSU Academic Calendar on the University’s website for specific details.

Students should avail themselves of the policy for uncompleted coursework on the School’s website under “Registration.” 

Dropping the Course
The last day to drop this course without an entry on your permanent record and to receive a full tuition refund is Monday 6 June, after 9 June no tuition refund is allowed.
Grading and Due Dates

Required Style Manual

Historical research requires you to effectively communicate your research findings and critically evaluate the writings of others.   An important aspect of this scholarly communication is understanding and using the standard citation formats and conventions for historical works.  Because of its continued use of footnotes and the extensive details required in its citation formats, historians and history publications use The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition) for written publications.  This contrasts the LIS convention of APA (American Psychological Association) style.

If you are serious about historical writing and publishing I encourage you to invest in a copy of the MOS and to use it faithfully.  Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (7th edition) is a derivative of Chicago MOS and an acceptable substitute for this class.

Please consider purchasing your text books from the SOI e-Bookstore (a project of Amazon Affiliates program) because it generates revenue exclusively for SOI student scholarships: SOI eBookstore

Other articles and resources will be assigned throughout the term and available either through the King Library’s full text databases, the web, or furnished to you through our class Canvas site.

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:

  • Presnell, J. (2012). The information-literate historian (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. Available through Amazon: 0199926042arrow 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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