INFO 285-01
Applied Research Methods
Fall 2019 Syllabus

Dr. Scott Walter
Office Location: Chicago, Illinois
Office Hours: Virtual office hours. Telephone advising by appointment. Please note that your instructor is on U.S. Central Time.

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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 21, 2019, 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, the iSchool 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, focus groups). The course takes you through the steps needed to develop and produce a research proposal on a topic of your choice.

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 iSchool Graduate Advisor to waive the INFO 285 requirement. A waiver, if granted, does not reduce the total units required for the MLIS degree.

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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

As a graduate student, you are expected to:

  • Complete and carefully consider all assigned readings.
  • Fully participate in all class activities and discussions.
  • Complete all assignments on time.
  • Inform the instructor if you have an illness or emergency that requires you to be absent from our online learning environment for an extended period of time or to request an extension on an assignment.

Specific assignments include:

Participation and Engagement (Supports CLOs #1 - 4)
Students will actively participate in class, make thoughtful and informed contributions to class discussions, complete activities and assignments as posted and give updates on their own research plan. Participation is guided by, but not limited to, completion of graded discussion posts.

IRB Training Requirement (Supports CLO #4)
Students will complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online workshop titled: "Students Conducting No More Than Minimal Risk Research." Completion of this workshop is required by all San José State University faculty and students intending to do research with human subjects. The course can be located at Citi Program.

Article Summaries and Reviews (Supports CLOs #1 - 2)
Students will write two (2) brief reviews of selected, published research studies that illustrate the use of specific research methods in library and information science, e.g., survey research, focus group research. All students will complete a review of a study employing survey research, and each may choose the topic of the second review from options noted on the Calendar (below). These second reviews are due on the dates coinciding with the class discussion of the selected methods.

Literature Review (Supports CLOs #1 - 2)
Students will write a review of the literature related to their chosen research topic that provides a summary and synthesis of previous studies, identifies gaps in the literature, and indicates how the proposed studies relate to, or extend, existing studies in the field.

Data Collection Method (Supports CLOs #2 - 3)
Students will select a data collection method, e.g., survey, interview, ethnography, and write a review of its use in library and information science, including examples of how the method is employed in LIS research, discussion of the strengths and limitations of the method, and discussion of how this method might be employed in the research proposal.

Research Proposal Presentation (Supports CLOs #1 - 4)
Students will present an overview of their research proposal to be shared with classmates.

Research Proposal (Supports CLOs #1 - 4)
Students will write a research proposal for a study appropriate for a Master's thesis. The proposal will include: problem statement, introduction to the topic, research question(s), significance of the study, literature review, data collection method(s), and plan for data analysis.  

Further information on course assignments is available on the Canvas site.


Assignment Points Due Date(s)
Participation 20 Continuous
IRB Training Requirement 5 September 22nd
Article Summaries/Reviews (2) 10

September 29th (Survey Research)

Choice of 2nd Topic & Date (see Calendar; 2nd review is due the week the topic is discussed in class)

Literature Review 10 October 20th
Data Collection Method 15 November 3rd
Research Proposal Presentation 10 November 17th
Research Proposal 30 December 8th

All assignments are due by 5:00 pm (Pacific) on the dates noted above and should be submitted through the Canvas site. Late submissions may receive a grade penalty of 20% of the total points possible for the assignment. Assignment deadlines may be adjusted by the instructor with appropriate notice. Announcement of any changes to course assignments or other course components will be made on the Canvas site.

Course Calendar
This is an initial calendar of course topics and assignments that may be changed with appropriate notice. Consult the Canvas site for the most recently updated, and complete, course calendar and for announcements of weekly readings, discussion topics, and other assignments.

Week Topic Assignment
Week 1
Aug 21 - 26
Introduction and Overview

Review Canvas site, including assignment descriptions and due dates

Graded discussion post

Week 2
Aug 27 - Sep 2
The Research Process  Graded discussion post
Week 3
Sep 3 - 9
Research Questions  Graded discussion post
Week 4
Sep 10 - 16
Research Design and Measurement  Graded discussion post
Week 5
Sep 17 - 23
Research Ethics 

IRB Training Requirement Due September 22nd

Graded discussion post

Week 6
Sep 24 - 30

Survey Research Article Review I (Survey Research) Due September 29th
Week 7
Oct 1 - 7
Bibliometrics If Selected: Article Review (Bibliometrics) Due October 6th

Week 8
Oct 8 - 14

Content Analysis If Selected: Article Review (Content Analysis) Due October 13th
Week 9
Oct 15 - 21
Interviews and Focus Groups

Literature Review Due October 20th

Graded discussion post

If Selected: Article Review (Interviews or Focus Groups) Due October 20th

Week 10
Oct 22 - 28
Historical Research

If Selected: Article Review (Historical Research) Due October 27th

Week 11
Oct 29 - Nov 4
Ethnographic Research and User Experience (UX) Research

Data Collection Method Due November 3rd

Graded discussion post

If Selected: Article Review (Ethnographic Research or UX Research) Due November 3rd

Note: This is the final week during which a second article review may be submitted.

Week 12
Nov 5 - 11

Action Research


Week 13
Nov 12 - 18

Critical Librarianship

Graded Discussion post

Research Proposal Presentation Due November 17th

Week 14
Nov 19 - 25

Presentation Week

Graded Discussion post

Week 15
Nov 26 - Dec 2
Week 16
Dec 3 - 9
Writing Week Research Proposal Due December 8th

Final grades must be submitted to the University no later than December 20th.

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 200, INFO 202, INFO 204. 

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.


Recommended Textbooks:

  • American Psychological Association (2009). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.) Chicago: 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;
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA or Informatics) — 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.

Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 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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