INFO 285-13
Applied Research Methods
Topic: Evaluating Programs and Services
Fall 2019 Syllabus

Cheryl Stenström
Office location: Online only
Office Hours: By appointment via Canvas

Syllabus Links
iSchool eBookstore

Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 21st, 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 in 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, iSchool offers a number of applied or specialized sections of INFO 285 for students to choose from. This section focuses on program evaluation.

285 Waiver Option: If a student has taken and passed a graduate-level research methods course within the last 5 years (as documented by an official transcript), the student can petition the Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising to waive the INFO 285 requirement.

Please send an electronic copy of the transcript (scanned as a pdf file) to the Coordinator of Admissions and Academic Advising.

A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree. It simply means that you are not required to take INFO 285 as one of your MLIS classes.

Course Requirements

Students' work will be evaluated according to the following specific criteria:
Identify research problem, conduct critical literature review and analysis, collect data, develop a conceptual hypothesis and theory, and produce a formalized research proposal.

IRB Training Requirement
Complete the CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) module called “Human Subjects Research”. Completion of this workshop is required by all San José State University faculty and students intending to do research with living human subjects. All you need to place in the DropBox is your certificate of completion number. The course is located at CITI (

Course Calendar

Date Topic
Week 1
August 21
Introduction to creating and using LIS research
Week 2
August 28
Becoming a researcher
Week 3
September 5
Planning your project
Week 4
September 12
Conducting a Literature Review and Reading Critically
Week 5
September 19
Critical review - summary analysis of a research report or article due September 25 [15%]
Week 6
September 26
Assembling the research argument
Week 7
October 3
Acknowledgments and responses
Week 8
October 10
Literature Review on a Hot Topic due October 16 [20%]
Week 9
October 17
Week 10
October 24
Week 11
October 31
Data Analysis Assignment due November 6 [10%]
Week 12
November 7
Week 13
November 15
Week 14
November 22
Final Library Program Evaluation Research Proposal due December 2 [30%]
Week 15
December 3
IRB training requirement due December 9 [5%]

Course Grading and assignments

  • IRB training requirement
    Complete the CITI (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative) module called “Human Subjects Research”. Completion of this workshop is required by all San José State University faculty and students intending to do research with living human subjects. All you need to place in the Canvas assignments area is your certificate of completion number. The course is located at CITI  (
    Supports CLO #4
  • Critical review
    Read critically a research report or article (at least 5 pp. long) and write a short paper (3-5 pp. double-spaced) summarizing your understanding and assessment of the research problem, research methods, findings, and recommendations, as well as your assessment of the value of the research and the overall quality of the research report.
    Supports CLO #1
  • Literature review
    Compile a literature review (approximately 20 items) containing a variety of resources, which can include journal and newsletter articles, videos, online programs, virtual world events, recent blog posts, wiki entries, and other rapidly deployed info sources on a hot topic in librarianship that contains a program or service evaluative research opportunity. Briefly describe a research question you might like to pursue based on this literature review.
    Supports CLO #2
  • Data analysis
    Analyze a sample set of data (obtained directly by you or from the instructor), noting the assumptions, definitions, strengths, and limitations of the type of data set you have chosen. Your data analysis need not be exhaustive, but it should be approximately 3-5 pages in length.
    Supports CLO #4
  • Final proposal
    Final written research proposal (10-12 pp. double-spaced) describing a real or fictitious library program or service to be evaluated, the research problem(s) inherent in the program or service, the methodology and data collection strategies to be used, a critical literature review, and a plan of action.
    Supports CLO #3
  • Discussions
    A portion of the overall grade is allocated for class participation. For the purposes of this class, participation includes prompt and thoughtful contribution to online discussions, engagement with class activities, and a demonstration that you are making an effort to master the material covered in this course. During most weeks of the course, there will be a new discussion topic posted related to the course readings. You will be required to participate in a minimum of ten topics.
    Supports CLO #2, #3

More details on the assignments will be provided in Canvas.
Note: Assignments (except the weekly discussion topics) are due by 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the date listed. Grades will be reduced for any late work by 10% percent for any portion of each 24-hour period past the 11:59 pm PT deadline. Please contact the instructor prior to a deadline in the case of illness or emergency.


Assignment % of final grade
IRB training requirement 5%
Critical review 15%
Literature review 20%
Data analysis 10%
Final proposal 30%
Discussions 20% (2% each)

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:

  • 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

Recommended Textbooks:

  • American Psychological Association (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) American Psychological Association. Available through Amazon: 1433805618. 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 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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