LIBR 285-13
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Fall 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Charley Seavey
Office: Virtual
Office Hours: via e-mail. After course gets up and running I will post times for contact via SKYPE.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Students should self-enroll for the ANGEL Course Site.  The PIN will be sent to enrolled students via MySJSU.

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 research products and learn the basic skills of planning, designing, executing and reporting research as well as evaluating and applying published research findings. Emphasis will concentrate on developing, planning, and producing a quality research proposal.

Course Prerequisites: LIBR200, LIBR202, LIBR204, and demonstrated writing proficiency required.

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), the student can petition the SLIS Graduate Advisor to waive the LIBR 285 requirement. A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree. See Waiver option

Course Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:

  • Conduct a systematic and critical literature review of published (secondary) research;
  • Students will be able to understand the nature of different source materials;
  • Articulate different types of research methods, appropriately apply them, and understand their respective liabilities;
  • Identify and apply ethical concerns connected to primary research;
  • Gain exposure to appropriate data compiling tools and procedures;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles and processes of conducting research;

LIBR 285 supports the following MLIS Core Competencies:

  • Understand the nature of research, research methods and research findings; retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups;
  • Articulate the ethics, values and foundational principles of library and information professionals and their role in the promotion of intellectual freedom.
  • to an extent demonstrate proficiency in the use of current information and communication technologies, and other related technologies, as they affect the resources and uses of libraries and other types of information providing entities;

Course Requirements

285, as taught by the Professor is a mixture of more or less mainstream social science research methodology and some exposure to research/evaluation in our field. The idea is not to make researchers out of you, but to make you better consumers of research, in both a theoretical and practical sense. Heavy emphasis will be placed on the student's ability to analyze and critique the subject at hand- in other words, critical thinking is a must. Participation in class discussion sessions is essential.

Complete San Jose State University’s Institutional Review Board required certification on working with human subjects: see the National Cancer Institute’s online tutorial:

Course Calendar
I have things noted in weeks here. Think of this as a once-a-week class that meets at 8 a.m. on Thursday. In fact, that is when the lectures will pop up on Angel. I don't expect you to be sitting at your computer at 8 a.m., but I would think that by Sunday evening you had best have the lecture read. Hence, Week 1 starts Thursday, August 28. Week 2 starts Thursday, September 4. Etc. Etc. I say tentative because I have rarely been able to stick to a syllabus in my life. Who knows what we'll get going on?

When in doubt as to what is going on check the SIRLS calendar at or the SJSU calendar at paying particular attention to such things as drop and add dates.

If any of you happen to be in Flagstaff, AZ, September 10-13, I will be there at a Route 66 event. There will be a class, but if there are any northern Arizonans in the crowd, we can arrange a meeting. Thanksgiving is exactly when it usually is and there will be no class. And nothing due. Enjoy the massive overeating that ensues. The last class will post on Tuesday, December 8, because SJSU has decreed that classes officially end that day.

  • August 27: Week 1: Introduction to Research
  • September 3: Week 2: Research in LIS
  • September 10: Week 3: Paradigms, Hegemony, and the Like
  • September 17: Week 4: Introduction to Statistics: Descriptive Stats.
  • September 24: Week 5: On Probability and Statistical Significance
  • October 1: Week 6: Inferential Statistics
  • October 8: Week 7: Theories and Hypotheses; Evidence and Variables
  • First Stats Exam posts
  • October 15: Week 8: Experimental Design Issues
  • First Stats Exam Due
  • First "Third" exam posts
  • October 22: Week 9: "Compared to What?" Standards
  • First "Third" exam due
  • October 29: Week 10: Evaluating Libraries: Public and Academic
  • November 5: Week 11: Evaluating Collections: Public and Academic
  • November 12: Week 12:Evidence: Numerical and Historical
  • November 19: Week 13:Thinking About History
  • Second "Third" exam posts
  • December 3: Week 14: Guest Page Research
  • Second "Third" exam due
  • December 8: Week 15: Final Considerations
  • Final Posts- due Monday,
  • December 14th by 6 p.m. Tucson time

Hmm.  Looks as if my carefully constructed table did not translate. See the syllabus on the course site when you get there for a more clear picture of the schedule.

Course Grading

Grading Students will be evaluated on the following:

  • Statistics Assignment: 30% taken together
  • The two "thirds" exams: 40%
  • Final Exam: 20%
  • Class Participation: 10%

See the numerical and grade equivalents below. I'm not particularly happy with that scale, but it is what the university dictates.

Numerical scores are not rounded up when computing grades.

A word on grading.
This is graduate school. Simply doing the work on time in a reasonable fashion earns a grade of "B." The grade of "A" is reserved for work that shows evidence of going beyond the mere requirements of completing the assignment. Heavy emphasis will be placed on the student's ability to analyze and critique the subject at hand- in other words, critical thinking is a must. Participation in class discussion sessions is essential.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION : 1. Late material will be graded down at the rate of 10% of the grade per day late. Which means that a paper that would normally grade a 90 is a day late, the grade is 81. If two days late the grade is 72. After that you don't want to think about it. If, and only if, you let me know beforehand that there are going to be problems we can make adjustments. Problems do not include vacation, family reunions, or trips to concerts. I can be flexible, but remember you are a student in graduate school.

2. I expect submitted papers to be written in clear, concise, and grammatically correct English. Material not meeting these standards will be redone until they do so, losing points along the way.

Textbooks and Readings

The texts for the course will be The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, University of Chicago Press. As of early July new paperback copies are on Amazon for $11.56, and used as low as $6.99. The other text will be The Complete Idiot's Guide to Statistics 2nd ed (although I think the 1st ed will do as well) by Robert A. Donnelly. New on Amazon for $12.32, used starting at $7.58. You have to wonder how they come up with those prices... The stats book contains way more than we are going to cover in this class, but it is among the most accessible stats texts I know. Don't panic over the content, we'll only be using parts of it.

Other readings will all be online, either in a database available through the King library at , or simply floating on the web.

Required Textbook:

  • Booth, W., Colomb, G., & Williams, J. (2008). The Craft of Research (3rd ed.). University of Chicago Press. Available through Amazon: 0226065669. arrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Donnelly, Jr., R. A. (2007). The Complete Idiot's Guide to Statistics (2nd ed.). Penguin Group. Available through Amazon: 1592576346. arrow 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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