INFO 285-02
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Spring 2017 Syllabus

Dr. Christine Hagar
Office Hours:
Virtually, via e-mail, Blackboard IM drop-in office hours - TBA on the Canvas course site, and advising by phone by appointment.

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning January 26th, 6 am PDT 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 School of Information offers a number of applied or specialized sections of INFO 285 for students to choose from.

This section provides a general introduction to research methods frequently used in library and information science research (e.g. survey, interview, historical research, focus groups). The course takes you through the steps to develop and produce a research proposal on a topic of your choice.

INFO 285 is required for all students who entered the MLIS program from Spring 2007. Effective for students who enter the program in Fall 2010 INFO 285 must be taken within the first 24 units.

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 CLO #1, CLO #2, CLO #3, CLO #4)
    Students are required to actively participate in class, make thoughtful contributions to class discussions, complete activities as posted on the course website, critique published research papers, and give updates on their research proposal (20 points).
  • IRB Training Requirement (Supports CLO #4
    Complete the National Institute of Health’s online workshop titled: “Protecting Human Research Participants (PHRP)"  (5 points).
  • Literature Review (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2)
    Students will write a brief review of the literature related to their chosen research topic. The review will summarize and synthesize previous studies related to the research area (10 points).
  • Data Collection Method (Supports CLO #3)
    Students will select a data collection method e.g. survey, interview, focus group - give examples of how the method is used in LIS, discuss the strengths and limitations of the method, and discuss how the method is appropriate to use in the research proposal (15 points).
  • Data Analysis Quiz (Supports CLO #4)
    Students will choose to answer one set of multiple-choice questions: either a set of questions on qualitative data analysis, or a set of questions on quantitative data analysis (10 points).
  • Research Proposal (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2, CLO #3, CLO #4)
    Students will write a research proposal appropriate for a Master's thesis. The proposal will include: problem statement, background to the topic, research questions, significance of the study, brief literature review, data collection method/s and method/s for data analysis (30 points).
  • Research Proposal Presentation (Supports CLO #1, CLO #2, CLO #3, CLO #4)
    Students will present an overview of their research proposal to be shared with classmates (10 points).

Further information about the assignments and rubrics are posted on the D2L course website.

Course Calendar - subject to change with fair notice

Date Topic and assignment due dates
Unit 1
Jan 26 - Feb.5

Introductions and interests

Introduction to research

Unit 2
February 6

Research questions

Literature review

Unit 3
February 13
Writing the proposal

Use of theory
Unit 4
February 20
Research design
Unit 5
February 27

Ethical considerations

IRB Training Requirement Due March 5

Unit 6
March 6


Literature Review Due March 12

Unit 7
March 13

Data collection methods used most frequently in LIS (1):

Survey research

Unit 8
March 20

Data collection methods used most frequently in LIS (2):

Focus groups.
Research Diaries

March 27


Unit 9
April 3

Data collection methods used most frequently in LIS  (3):

Comparative and historical research 
Evaluation research

Data Collection Method Due April 9

Unit 10
April 10

Qualitative field research paradigms

Unit 11
April 17

Qualitative data analysis

Qualitative Data Analysis Quiz Due April 23

Unit 12
April 24
Quantitative data analysis

Quantitative Data Analysis Quiz Due April 30
Unit 13
May 1

Research Proposal Due May 7

Unit 14
May 8

Research Proposal Presentation Due May 14

Grading and Assignment Due Dates

Participation and Engagement 20 points TBA on Canvas
IRB Requirement 5 points March 5
Literature Review 10 points March 12
Data Collection Method 15 points April 9
Qualitative Data Analysis Quiz OR

Quantitative Data Analysis Quiz
10 points April 23

April 30
Research Proposal 30 points May 7
Research Proposal Presentation 10 points May 14

All assignments must be submitted by 11:59 PM (Pacific Time) on the day the assignment is due. Late assignments will be reduced by 20% of point value per day late. Please contact Dr. Hagar if a medical or a family/personal emergency prevents you from submitting an assignment on 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.

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:

  • Babbie, E. (2012). Social research counts. Wadsworth. Available through Amazon: 1111833893arrow 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 or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — 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 if you wish to stay in the program. 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.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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