LIBR 285-02
LIBR 285-11
Research Methods in Library and Information Science
Summer 2009 Greensheet

Mary M. Somerville, MLS, MA, PhD
E-mail
Phone: 253-229-8816 (cell)


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Textbooks and Readings
Course Requirements
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Angel Information
The content for this course is managed through the Angel learning management system. Students must self-enroll on Angel before the class start date. On May 26th,  access enrollment information will be sent through My.SJSU.

Course Description

The course design enables participants to first develop an overview of the topic through reading the required textbook, supplemented by learning activities which further engage students with action research processes and outcomes through application of appropriate frameworks to particular professional and beneficiary situations. In addition, recommended sources are available which students may consult, if relevant to their course outcome aspirations.

Research methods cover fundamental principles, processes, values and roles of research for professional application in information organizations. Students 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. Outcomes concentrate on developing, planning, and producing a quality research proposal or research paper.

The course requirements (described below) intend to develop students’ theoretical understanding and practical readiness. Assignments are completed during a week which begins on a Sunday and concludes on a Saturday. This schedule intends to accommodate students with a variety of work schedules and personal circumstances. In addition, it permits the instructor to provide regular daily attention to participants’ communications throughout her (Monday through Friday) workweek and then, over the weekend, respond more substantively to students’ work.

Toward these ends, the course schedule is as follows:

  • Week 1 – June 1 – June 6
  • Week 2 – June 7 – June 13
  • Week 3 – June 14 – June 20
  • Week 4 – June 21 – June 27
  • Week 5 – June 28 – July 4
  • Week 6 – July 5 – July 11
  • Week 7 – July 12 – July 18
  • Week 8 – July 19 – July 25
  • Week 9 – July 26 – August 1
  • Week 10 – August 2 – August 7

This schedule assumes that all coursework will be completed by midnight (Pacific Standard Time/PST) on a Saturday due date. ‘Late work’ (submitted after midnight on Saturday PST) will result in a reduction of points earned. 20% of possible points available for each assignment will be deducted for every day that an assignment is submitted past the due date. Students will receive no points for incomplete assignments.

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

Course Goals

  • 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 and
  • Compare and contrast the environments and organizational settings in which library, knowledge, and information professionals practice.

Course Objectives
This course examines distinguishing characteristics of action research approaches, which include a wide range of inclusive and collaborative methodologies for conducting social research and promoting situational change. This exploration occurs within the framework of research methods encompassing fundamental principles, processes, values, and roles of participatory research practices occurring within and promoted by knowledge, information, and library professionals. Students will become critical consumers of research outcome reports and, as well, able co-creators of inclusive research planning, implementation, and evaluation initiatives.

The course design, therefore, aims to provide a general introduction to a variety of disciplinary research methodologies, drawing predominantly – but not exclusively - from qualitative social sciences research methodologies. The course’s applied focus intends to prepare students to recognize critical questions – whether professional, community, or organization generated; to involve user constituencies – including action research beneficiaries and stakeholders - in framing and exploring needs, challenges, and opportunities; and to recognize appropriate methods for gathering data and generating insights which transform situational improvements. Ideally, these approaches are replicable and transferable to other situations, even as they improve the circumstances under investigation.

Student Learning Outcomes
At the completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe essential action research principles, processes, relationships, and outcomes;
  • Review and interpret action research literature in library and information science; and
  • Create a compelling action research proposal for a ‘real world’ project OR analyze processes and results of published action research projects.

SLIS Core Competencies

  • Recognize the social, cultural and economic dimensions of information use;
  • Understand the nature of action research, research methods and research findings; and
  • Retrieve, evaluate and synthesize scholarly and professional literature for informed decision-making by specific client groups.

Course Requirements

Students' work will be evaluated according to the following specific criteria:
Identify questions on action research processes, identify relevant secondary (published)  literature,  identify elements of action research, and produce a substantial final written product containing a formalized research proposal or paper.

Course Calendar

  • Week 1 – June 1 – June 6
    Read: Greenwood and Levin, chapters 1, 2, & 3
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 2 – June 7 – June 13
    Read: Greenwood and Levin, chapters 4, 5, & 6
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 3 – June 14 – June 20
    Read: Greenwood and Levin, chapters 7, 8, & 9
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 4 – June 21 – June 27
    Submit draft action research proposal or draft research paper topic, including five ‘credible’ and annotated information sources
  • Week 5 – June 28 – July 4
    Read: Greenwood and Levin, chapters 10 & 11
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 6 – July 5 – July 11
    Read: Greenwood and Levin, chapters 12 & 13
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 7 – July 12 – July 18
    Submit action research proposal or research paper draft, reflecting instructor comments to earlier drafts (due June 27th)
  • Week 8 – July 19 – July 25
    Read: Greenwood and Levin, chapters 14 & 15
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 9 – July 26 – August 1
    Read Greenwood and Levin, chapters 16 & 17
    Submit one question and one supplemental source plus one essential action research element
  • Week 10 – August 2 – August 7
    Submit final action research proposal or final action research paper

Note: To ensure additional exploration of the action research topics raised in the required reading, students are required to generate at least one important question, one additional source, and one essential element through the course. These contributions must be posted in the discussion forum by midnight on Saturday PST. This assignment intends to stimulate broad interest in the field, to generate a list of ‘good sources’ for further information, and to refine students' action research intentions and interests. The resulting action research proposal or action research paper then builds on this shared information sharing. The proposal or paper assignment intends to encourage students’ individual expression of social research and social change interests. Therefore, these assignments are submitted in the digital drop box.

Course Grading
In this course, the following point system will be used to determine the final grade which is based on a total of 100 points:

Weekly question and source
(7 weeks x 5 points)
35 points
Draft action research proposal or research paper and 5 annotated 'credible' sources 15 points
Draft action research proposal or paper, revised per instructor's comments 20 points
Final action research proposal or paper 30 points

Late Assignments
‘Late work’ (submitted after midnight on Saturday PST) will result in a reduction in points earned. 20% of possible points for each assignment will be deducted for every day past the due date. Students will receive no points for incomplete assignments.

Textbooks and Readings

Recommended Readings (if appropriate)

  • Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1991). Participatory action research and action science compared. In W. F. Whyte (ed.), Participatory action research. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California, pp. 85-96.
  • Bødker, K., Kensing, F., & Simonsen, J. (2004). Participatory IT design: Designing for business and workplace realities. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Checkland, P. B., & Poulter, J. (2006). Learning for action. A short definitive account of soft systems methodology and its use for practitioners, teachers and students. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, U.K.
  • Checkland, P.B., & Holwell, S. (1998a). Action research: its nature and validity. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 11(1), 9-21.
  • Dick, B. (2004). Action research literature. Themes and trends. Action Research, 2(4), 425-444.
  • Elden, M., & Levin, M. (1991). Cogenerative learning: Bringing participation into action research. In W. F. Whyte (ed.), Participatory action research. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, California, pp. 127-142.
  • Flood, R. L. (1998). Action research and the management and systems sciences. Systemic Practice and Action Research, 11 (1), 79-101.
  • McIntyre, A. (2008). Participatory action research. Qualitative Research Methods Series 52. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
  • McNiff, J. (2000). Action research in organisations. Routledge, New York, NY.
  • McNiff, J., & Whitehead, J. (2002). Action research: Principles and practices. 2nd ed. Routledge, New York. NY.
  • Mirijamdotter, A. (2009). Auraria Library Report on Communication Systems. Unpublished report. Request PDF from instructor.
  • Mirijamdotter, A., & Somerville, M. M. (2009). Collaborative design: An SSM-enabled organizational learning approach. International Journal of Information Technologies and Systems Approach, 2(1), 48-69. Request PDF from instructor.
  • Somerville, Mary M. (2009). Working together – Collaborative information practices for organizational learning. Chicago, IL: Association of College & Research Libraries. (in press) Request PDF from instructor.
  • Susman, G., & Evered, R. (1978). An assessment of the scientific merits of action research. Administrative Science Quarterly 23 (4), 582-603.
  • Whyte, W. F., Greenwood, D. J., & Lazes, P. (1991). Participatory action research through practice to science in social research. In W. F. Whyte (Ed.), Participatory action research, (pp. 19-55). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Required Textbook:

  • Greenwood, D. J., & Levin, M. (2006). Introduction to Action Resaerch: Social Research for Social Change (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Available through Amazon: 1412925975. 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 http://www.sjsu.edu/senate/docs/S90-5.pdf. More detailed information on a variety of related topics is available in the SJSU catalog at http://info.sjsu.edu/web-dbgen/catalog/departments/LIS.html. 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 http://info.sjsu.edu/static/catalog/policies.html. Add/drop deadlines can be found on the current academic year calendars document on the Academic Calendars webpage at http://www.sjsu.edu/provost/services/academic_calendars/. The Late Drop Policy is available at http://www.sjsu.edu/aars/policies/latedrops/policy/. 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 http://www.sjsu.edu/advising/.

Consent for Recording of Class and Public Sharing of Instructor Material

University Policy S12-7, http://www.sjsu.edu/senate/docs/S12-7.pdf, 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 http://www.sjsu.edu/senate/docs/F15-7.pdf 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 http://www.sjsu.edu/studentconduct/.

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 http://www.sjsu.edu/president/docs/directives/PD_1997-03.pdf requires that students with disabilities requesting accommodations must register with the Accessible Education Center (AEC) at http://www.sjsu.edu/aec to establish a record of their disability.

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