LIBR 285-14
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Fall 2009 Greensheet

Dr. Michael L Grant
Dr. Penelope A. Grant

Office location: Online - contact instructors anytime through e-mail
Office Hours: Elluminate - live chat sessions can be set up by prior arrangement with the instructors.

Greensheet Links
Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
ANGEL Tutorials
iSchool eBookstore

Angel information: This course will be available on Angel. The access code for the Course site will be sent on August 21, 2009, via the MySJSU messaging system, to those enrolled in the class. If spaces remain, the Angel site will be open for self-enrollment on August 22.

Course Description

Research methods covering fundamental principles, processes, values and roles of research from a postmodern perspective for professional application in information organizations. Students will become critical consumers of the research processes and will learn the basics of planning, designing, executing, reporting, and applying research. In addition to general survey sections, SLIS offers a number of applied or specialized sections of LIBR 285 for students to choose from.

The emphasis in LIBR 285-05/14 will be on learning by doing through the development and execution of a systematic inquiry using a postmodern perspective. LIBR 285-05/14 will be team taught by Dr. Michael Louis (Mike) Grant and Dr. Penelope Anne (Penny) Grant. It will provide an opportunity for students to practice working from a postmodern perspective while engaging in a guided, systematic inquiry suited to scholarly or practitioner settings.

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 demonstrate knowledge of:

  1. postmodern themes relevant to LIS and the student's inquiry in this course.
  2. the impact of ideologies on our thinking and social structures;
  3. a systematic process for research from a postmodern perspective;
  4. different approaches to research from a postmodern perspective and issues related to the application of those approaches to research in LIS;
  5. ethical concerns connected to research involving humans;
  6. information gathering procedures and interpretation strategies appropriate to a research from a postmodern perspective.

Students will demonstrate a capacity to:

  1. assume a postmodern perspective or lens while trying out and reflecting on a inquiry project in the area of LIS;
  2. think critically about ideas gathered from a variety of sources;
  3. identify meaningful issues in the area of LIS, worthy of inquiry;
  4. undertake a systematic inquiry focusing on a meaningful issue in the area of LIS;
  5. address ethical concerns connected to inquiry involving humans in a manner that would satisfy an institutional ethics review;
  6. craft and utilize information gathering strategies appropriate to the student's inquiry in this course;
  7. craft and utilize interpretation strategies appropriate to the student's inquiry in this course.

Students will demonstrate a disposition in this course to:

  1. use a postmodern perspective;
  2. learn by doing;
  3. engage in meaningful conversation/dialogue as a means for supporting everyone's learning;
  4. think critically in the sense of:
    1. seeking and utilizing background knowledge required for thoughtful reflection;
    2. applying criteria for judgment for deciding what is appropriate to think and do;
    3. using vocabulary that can help make useful distinctions;
    4. using thinking strategies to help think through an issue;
    5. being open-minded, fair-minded, independent minded and having an inquiring attitude.
  5. ethical behaviour in all relationships, including in the student inquiry project.

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;
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills for group work, collaborations and professional level presentations;
  • Contribute to the cultural, economic, educational and social well-being of our communities.

Course Requirements

Students are required to:

  1. Read, listen to and reflect on a series of Backgrounders prepared by the instructors.
  2. Read, reflect on and contribute to discussion of a hypothetical, systematic postmodern inquiry project - Inquiry Simulation - prepared by the instructors.
  3. Participate in a critically thoughtful way in weekly discussion forums about the week's topic. Since it is anticipated that much of the actual teaching and learning in LIBR 285-05/14 will take place within the discussion forums as everyone grapples with the ideas under consideration, it is essential that all students make critically thoughtful submissions, read all posts, and actively participate in the dialogue. 
  4. Complete San Jose State University’s Institutional Review Board workshop (see and the National Institute of Health's certification on working with human subjects (see the National Institute of Health's online tutorial: ).
  5. Plan and conduct a small research project, called the LIBR 285-05/14 Student Inquiry Project, using the pieces of a systematic postmodern inquiry as modeled in the Inquiry Simulation. After planning their inquiry, students will conduct, interpret, report, and reflect on their inquiry project. The purpose of doing this inquiry project is to learn about research through experience. The results of this project may NOT be published.
  6. Prepare and present two asynchronous seminars to a small groups of students and the instructors. The first seminar will be presented following the completion of the planning phase. The second seminar will be presented after completion of the inquiry.
  7. Constructively critique a seminar presented by one of the three other students in their seminar group. Active seminar participation means critical thought about the other student's seminar presentation and a meaningful, constructive critique on what you take to be important aspects of the inquiry.
  8. Prepare and submit a final paper which includes:
    1. the two seminar presentations, revised as the student considers appropriate;
    2. steps taken to respond to the feedback you received;
    3. reflections on the process of engaging in the inquiry process;
    4. reflections on what the student feels has been learned about researching from a postmodern perspective. 

The final paper will be an appropriate submission for LIBR 209 (e-Portfolio) or preparation for undertaking LIBR 299 (Graduate Thesis)

Students' learning will be evaluated based on evidence provided in:

  1. Weekly discussion forums;
  2. Completion of certification on working with human subjects;
  3. Seminar 1: report on inquiry design;
  4. Seminar 2: report on inquiry completion;
  5. Two critiques of seminars presented by a member of your seminar group;
  6. Final paper

Evidence of students' learning will be evaluated in terms of the following criteria:

  1. There is critical thought about engaging in a systematic inquiry on a meaningful issue in the area of LIS from a postmodern perspective where:
    • critical thought is characterized by:
      1. use of appropriate background knowledge;
      2. use of criteria for judgment in deciding what to think and do;
      3. use of appropriate vocabulary to help make useful distinctions;
      4. open-mindedness, fair-mindedness, independent mindedness and an inquiring attitude.
    • a systematic inquiry is characterized by:
      1. identification of various research approaches that can be taken;
      2. articulation of reasons for selecting a particular research approach;
      3. identification and application of accepted ethical standards;
      4. identification and critique of a variety of sources of information about the issue under inquiry;
      5. development and use of an appropriate information gathering strategy;
      6. identification and use of an appropriate interpretation strategy;
    • a meaningful issue in LIS is characterized by:
      1. potential for contribution to the well-being of the community;
      2. practicality of exploration in the time available with the resources available.
    • a postmodern perspective is characterized by postmodern views of :
      1. truth, knowledge, power, causality, grand theories, language, thought, culture, the knowing subject, information as a commodity, organization of knowledge, original thought, inter-textuality, role of professionals, role of author, and pragmatic solutions.
  2. There is engagement in active learning and dialogue to support everyone's learning where:
    • active learning is characterized by:
      1. engagement in the activities prepared to support learning;
      2. willingness to contribute, where appropriate, suggestions on how activities can be adapted to further support learning;
      3. careful time management that will balance personal and work demands with course requirements.
    • dialogue that supports learning is characterized by:
      1. communication that is clear, respectful, and professional;
      2. engagement in the topic under discussion;
      3. willingness to reconsider positions in light of the dialogue.

Course Calendar 
(subject to change with fair notice from the instructors)

  • Week 1: Aug. 24 - Aug. 30: Introductions and get acquainted;
  • Week 2: Aug. 31 - Sept. 6: Inquiry Simulation Part One;
  • Week 3: Sept. 7 - Sept. 13: Inquiry Simulation Part Two;
  • Week 4: Sept. 14 - Sept. 20: Inquiry Simulation Part Three;
  • Week 5: Sept. 21 - Sept. 27: Inquiry Simulation Part Four;
  • Week 6: Sept. 28 - Oct. 4: Planning Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part One;
  • Week 7: Oct. 5 - Oct. 11: Planning Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part Two;
  • Week 8: Oct. 12 - Oct. 18: Planning Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part Three;
  • Week 9: Oct. 19 - Oct. 25: Planning Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part Four;
  • Week 10: Oct. 26 - Nov. 1: Seminar 1 - Report on LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Planning and critique a colleague's seminar;
  • Week 11: Nov. 2 - Nov. 8: Conducting Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part One;
  • Week 12: Nov. 9 - Nov. 15: Conducting Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part Two;
  • Week 13: Nov. 16 - Nov. 22: Conducting Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part Three;
  • Week 14: Nov. 23 - Nov. 29: Conducting Your LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Part Four;
  • Week 15: Nov. 30 - Dec. 6: Seminar 2 - Report on LIBR 285 Inquiry Project Completion and critique a colleague's seminar;
  • Week 16: Dec. 7 - Dec. 13: Final Paper

Student Assignment Submission Due Dates: (subject to change with fair notice from the instructors)

  1. Sundays (Weeks 1-8 and weeks 10-13) 11:59PM: contribute to online weekly discussion forum;
  2. Sunday, Sept. 27 11:59PM: complete San Jose State University's Institutional Review Board Workshop and the National Institutes of Health Certification on working with human subjects and provide instructors with verification of certification;
  3. Wednesday, Oct. 28 11:59PM: post your asynchronous Seminar 1: Report on Inquiry Planning Presentation;
  4. Sunday, Nov. 1 11:59PM: complete and post your Seminar 1 critique of one of your seminar group member's Seminar 1: Report on Inquiry Planning;
  5. Wednesday, Dec. 2 11:59PM: post your asynchronous Seminar 2: Report on Inquiry Completion Presentation;
  6. Sunday, Dec. 6 11:59PM: complete and post your Seminar 2 critique of one of your seminar group member's Seminar 2: Report on Inquiry Completion;
  7. Sunday, Dec. 13 11:59PM: Submit Final Paper.

Student assignments will not be accepted for evaluation after the submission due date unless, under extra-ordinary circumstances, prior permission has been received from the instructors. Missed assignments will be rated at zero for the purposes of the final grade calculation.

Student Assignment Weighting for Final Grade:

  1. Final Paper: 45% of final grade
  2. Weekly Discussion Forums: 15% of final grade;
  3. Seminar 1 Presentation: 10% of final grade;
  4. Seminar 1 Critique: 10% of final grade;
  5. Seminar 2 Presentation: 10% of final grade;
  6. Seminar 2 Critique: 10% of final grade.

Textbooks and Readings

The readings for LIBR 285-05/14 will be available through the King Library, the internet, and/or on the course site.

No Textbooks For This Course

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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