MARA 285-10
Research Methods in Records Management and Archival Science
Fall 2021 Syllabus

Joshua J. Zimmerman
Office Hours: By appointment. Appointments can be via telephone or online.

Syllabus Links
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Canvas Information: Courses will be available beginning August 19th at 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

Overview of research methods in the social sciences and their application to research about and within archives and records centers. Research design, human subjects, quantitative and qualitative methods, model studies, methodological critique and evaluation, data analysis, and presentation.

Course Requirements

Lectures, discussions, assignments, and rubrics will be posted to the Canvas course management system. Links to additional materials will be provided in Canvas as well.

Total number of points is 100. Here is a brief summary of the assignments and points earned:

  • Student Introduction post to discussion board - 4 points
  • Discussion based on material covered - 3 points each x 7 = 21 points
  • Protecting Human Research Participants Certification Course - 5 points (CLO #4, 6)
  • Survey Questionnaire Group Project - 15 points (CLOs #2, 4, 5)
  • Annotated Bibliography Assignment - 10 points (CLOs #1)
  • Research Proposal: Topic Proposal Assignment - 5 points (CLO #2, 4)
  • Research Proposal: Literature Review Assignment - 15 points (CLOs #1, 2, 3)
  • Research Proposal: Final Research Proposal Assignment - 25 points (CLOs #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Note: For weeks with required discussion board postings, students should provide their initial post by Thursday at 11:59 PM, Pacific Time, to leave ample time for follow-up discussion and to get full credit. Please participate early and actively in the required discussions.

Details for all of the discussions and assignments will be provided in Canvas.

Assignments Due
Unless otherwise noted, each module begins on Monday (12:01 AM, Pacific Time) and ends on the following Sunday (11:59 PM, Pacific Time). Assignments will be due by 11:59 PM, Pacific Time on the due date.

Course Calendar

Modules/Weeks/Days Title (Readings) Assignments
Introductions: August 19 - August 22 Introductions

Lecture Review

Discussion: Student Introductions

Module 1: August 23 - August 29 Investigation (Barnes chapter 1)

Lecture Review


Module 2: August 30 - September 5 Design (Barnes - chapter 2)

Lecture Review

Assignment 1: Annotated Bibliography due September 5.

Monday, September 6: Labor Day - NO CLASS    
Module 3: September 6 - September 12 Measurement (Barnes - chapter 3)

Lecture Review


Module 4: September 13 - September 19 Indexes and Scales (Barnes - chapter 4)

Lecture Review

Assignment 2: Topic Proposal due September 19.

Module 5: September 20 - September 26 Sampling (Barnes - chapter 5)

Lecture Review


Assignment: September 27 - October 3 See Assignments Assignment 3: Completion of Protecting Human Research Participants Certification Course - Upload a copy of the completion certificate to Canvas in order to receive credit. Due October 3.
Module 6: October 4 - October 10 Ethics (Barnes - chapter 6)

Lecture Review


Module 7: October 11 - October 17 Experiments (Barnes - chapter 7) Lecture Review
Module 8: October 18 - October 24 Survey Research (Barnes - chapter 8)

Lecture Review


Module 9: October 25 - October 31 Evaluation Research (Barnes - chapter 9)

Lecture Review

Assignment 4: Literature Review due October 31.

Module 10: November 1 - November 7 Field-Based Research (Barnes - chapter 10)

Lecture Review


Monday, November 8: Veteran's Day (observed): NO CLASS    
Module 11: November 8 - November 14 Other Types of Research (Barnes - chapter 11)

Lecture Review

Assignment 5: Survey Questionnaire Group Project due November 14.

Module 12: November 15 - November 21 Data Analyses: Qualitative and Quantitative (Barnes - chapter 12)

Lecture Review


Thursday, November 25 and Friday, November 26: Thanksgiving - NO CLASS    
Module 13: November 22 - November 24 Research Dissemination Mini-Module

Lecture Review


Module 14: November 29 - December 5 Course Wrap Up

Lecture Review

Discussion due December 5

Assignment 6: Final Research Proposal due December 6.

Please complete the SOTES (Student Opinion of Teaching Effectiveness) by December 6.


**No Class: Monday, Sept. 6, 2021 (Labor Day)

**No Class: Monday, Nov. 8, 2021 (Veterans Day observed)

**No Class: Thursday-Friday, Nov. 25-26, 2021 (Thanksgiving Holiday)


  1. Course grades are determined by the accumulation of 100 possible points, distributed as outlined above in the course calendar.
  2. This class follows the standard iSchool Grading Scale.
  3. Late assignments will not be accepted after 5 days past the due date. Late assignments submitted after the assignment deadline will receive a 10% point reduction for each day up to 5 days based on the total point value of the assignment. For example, a 25 point assignment would have a daily 2.5 point reduction; a 15 point assignment would have a daily 1.5 point reduction; a 5 point assignment would have a daily .5 point reduction. No Points will be awarded after 5 days late. Late assignments must be emailed to the professor directly and not submitted through Canvas.
  4. Discussion board postings will not be accepted for credit after the week's discussion has ended.
  5. All course materials must be completed by the last day of the class.

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

MARA 285 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Retrieve, critically evaluate, and synthesize scholarly and professional literature.
  2. Critically assess the different types of research methods (i.e., experimental, qualitative, participatory, etc.) and their applications.
  3. Conduct a literature search and develop a literature review on a selected research topic using a variety of information soruces.
  4. Design a research study and write a quality research proposal.
  5. Utilize popular statistical analysis software for analysis of research data.
  6. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of ethical research and the importance of devising strategies to protect human subjects.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

MARA 285 supports the following core competencies:

  1. I Demonstrate an understanding of research design and research methods and the analytical, written, and oral communication skills necessary to synthesize and disseminate research findings.


Required Textbooks:

  • Barnes, N.D. (2014). Research methods for the RIM professional. ARMA International. Available directly from publisher in PDF or Print versions.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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