Research as a process from problem definition and formulation of questions to design, data collection, analysis, and reporting. Students recognize research opportunities, translate them into researchable frameworks, design research projects, and implement results in libraries and other information agencies.
The research methods class required students to choose a topic for investigation and work in groups to conduct a literature review, then develop a research design that would answer questions raised by that investigation. Two fellow students joined me in a project based on my paper for LIS 510 Information Behavior proposing a theoretical model explaining selective information seeking within goal-directed work teams. We first formulated a clear statement of research purpose, then we reviewed existing literature addressing that intention. Beginning with the four citations in my paper, we identified other papers that had cited the same sources, especially the Savolainen paper, generating a long list for our review. In addition, we addressed the search fresh, compiling resources addressing information seeking by groups or teams within organization environments. Most sources we found addressed individual behavior in relation to teams of which they are part, and discussions of group dynamics were few.
This product demonstrates a preference for intellectual rigor and an appreciation of innovative interpretation of theory and observation to understand context and generate insightful theory that effectively explains results. It also shows a commitment to thorough, wide-ranging search for relevant information and comprehensive analysis to evaluate implications for current and future work.
Complete paper (.doc, 118k) – Category: Methods – All Coursework
Building on the literature, each team member individually developed a research design to analyze at aspect of the research questions stated in our shared purpose. We all reviewed one another’s approaches and offered feedback and commentary to each other, but we ultimately submitted separate products. That process began with restatement of the group purpose for our individual intentions. My ambitious research design addressed the questions of primary interest to me through a combination of methods, primarily qualitative case study with implications validated, where possible, by nonparticipant observation and historical research. I proposed a sequenced case study that first would look for the IB styles predicted by Savolainen and then evaluate their real-world interactions. Observation and historical analysis of documentary evidence would serve as a check against participants’ memories and representations of their behavior, so interpretations need not be limited by fallible interview reports. The combination would place real-life selection decisions and possible satisficing behavior in relatively clear contrast with theoretically ideal information seeking.
The product shows an understanding and appreciation of rigorous qualitative method, along with a concern for self-reported behavior versus actual actions, as documented in historical records. It demonstrated a commitment to validation of theoretical expectations against all available evidence, providing multiple perspectives on the same phenomena to paint a rich picture.
Complete paper (.doc, 148k) – Category: Methods – All Coursework