Research. Each graduate of the Master of Library and Information Science program is able to demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the ability to design a research project, and the ability to evaluate and synthesize research literature.
“Virtually every definition of profession indicates that it should have a solid theoretical base of knowledge as its foundation,” the knowledge that is based on solid research, according to Powell (2008, p. 176). Library practice is based on such theoretical knowledge, which is supported by scholarship and research findings in the library and information science (LIS) field and related disciplines. “Current research in the LIS field tends to be more rigorous methodologically and, as a whole, employs a greater variety of research methods, including a number of methods borrowed from other fields,” the author points out (ibid., p. 169). The field maintains its own research publication, Library & Information Science Research—a cross-disciplinary and refereed journal, focusing on the research process in library and information science as well as research findings and their practical applications and significance to the LIS world.
There exist different types of research, including primary and secondary research, basic and applied research, and quantitative and qualitative research.
While conducting research on a particular topic, especially when it deals with new developments in a field of study, one can observe a lack of reports on the topic in the professional literature. Innovations in all fields of inquiry in general, and innovations in library programs and services in particular, often call for primary research initiatives. Rather than looking for answers in the professional literature, the primary research is accomplished through gathering information directly by the researcher from experiments or research subjects. This type of research is carried out through an original research study, employing such data collection methods as interviews, case studies, experiments, observations, surveys, and focus groups. The secondary research, on the other hand, involves the exploration and synthesis of existing research, including reports on both primary and secondary research done in the past. It is accomplished through such data collection methods as literature review, historical research, as well as synthesis and interpretation of other types of existing data (government statistics, non-profit agency reports, etc.).
“Basic research, also referred to as pure, theoretical, and scientific research, is mostly concerned with creating new, generalizable knowledge,” Powell clarifies. “This approach usually involves the following steps: statement of the research problem, identification of relevant theory, development of one or more hypotheses to be tested, methodological design of the study, and collection and analysis of the necessary data” (ibid., p. 169). Whereas basic research normally follows the scientific method of inquiry and tends to be quantitative in nature, applied research deals with specific problems in real situations, such as assessment of library programs or evaluation of library collections, for example, and therefore relies on the qualitative research method. “However, the two approaches are not necessarily dichotomous,” notes Powell. “…the results of basic research can lead to practical applications and applied research can serve as the foundation for more theoretical research” (ibid.).
Finally, the main difference between the quantitative and qualitative research methods lays in the ability to quantify the research findings. “A quantitative study of the performance of reference librarians might, for example, measure the number of reference questions answered correctly while a qualitative examination of that issue might focus on how the reference librarian communicates with the patron,” Powell explains (ibid., p. 171).
To support my skills in this competency, I present the following examples of my work:
- The Annotated Bibliography assignment from LIBR 200 (Information and Society)
- The Scholarly Journal Review assignment from LIBR 200 (Information and Society)
- The research paper from INFO 281 (Seminar in Contemporary Issues – Topic: Metadata), The World Digital Library: Metadata Crosswalks
- The technology topic report from INFO 241-12 (Automated Library Systems – Topic: Emerging Technologies), Mobile Library OPACs in Academic Libraries
LIBR 200 Annotated Bibliography assignment
The first piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency L is an Annotated Bibliography assignment from LIBR 200 (Information and Society). In this assignment, I worked to identify resources relevant to the topic of the research paper I wrote for that class. In the research paper, Intellectual Property in Online Educational Multimedia Resources, I examine how intellectual property—one of the central issues in education, librarianship, and scholarship—plays out at the stages of development and online distribution of educational multimedia.
In the Annotated Bibliography assignment, I provide an introduction to the topic of my research, followed by the list of annotated source citations. Each citation contains an annotation, providing a cogent summary of the significant points in the item cited and a reflection on how the item cited contributes to my research, as well as informing the reader of the authority, relevance, and quality of the source cited. The resources include publications by professional associations (American Library Association, Association of College and Research Libraries, National Council of Teachers of English), universities, federal and nonprofit agency reports, and peer-reviewed journal articles.
This piece of evidence demonstrates my ability to conduct secondary research, to evaluate and synthesize research literature, and to articulate the significance of scholarly resources for use in my own research, with focus on the intellectual property in online distribution of educational multimedia resources.
LIBR 200 Scholarly Journal Review assignment
The second piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency L is a Scholarly Journal Review assignment from LIBR 200 (Information and Society). Here, I present a broad outline of the topics covered in Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), a scholarly journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, formerly known as the American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). The topic review covers the items published in the journal within a three-year time frame (2010-2013) and identifies major themes and key issues in the field of information science and technology. The paper examines the journal publications through the focus on the intersection of libraries, information, and society, and explores how they apply to my professional interest in digital librarianship.
Through my work on this assignment, I learned to locate, evaluate, and use scholarly and professional literature, to synthesize the body of research published in a scholarly journal within a given time frame, and to present my findings in writing. As a result, I gained skills in identifying various information stakeholders and conducting research on issues involved in creating and disseminating information in society.
INFO 281 research paper, The World Digital Library: Metadata Crosswalks
The third piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency L is a research paper I wrote for the INFO 281 (Seminar in Contemporary Issues – Topic: Metadata) class, The World Digital Library: Metadata Crosswalks. An international digital library partnership initiative, the World Digital Library (WDL) is a cooperative project of the Library of Congress, the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and libraries, archives, and educational and cultural institutions from the United States and around the world.
This paper offers critical evaluation of the World Digital Library (WDL) centralized content delivery system which is grounded in the WDL Descriptive Metadata Element Set and the WDL Metadata Crosswalks.
The analysis of the WDL content delivery system is centered around the following research questions:
- What are the advantages and the challenges in the WDL content delivery system?
- Which controlled vocabulary schemes are used in the WDL Descriptive Metadata Element Set to facilitate metadata consistency and subject access?
- To what extent do the WDL Metadata Crosswalks foster interoperability between the WDL contributors’ digital collections?
Following a review of literature on metadata crosswalks in digital libraries, this study concentrates on the qualitative analysis of the WDL Descriptive Metadata Element Set in relation to the WDL contributors’ original metadata schemes, with particular focus on Dublin Core and MARC. In the latter, the WDL records are compared to the original records in their native repositories, the WDL partners’ online catalogs. The quality of the WDL’s content delivery system is assessed against the metadata principles established by NISO:
Metadata Principle 1. Good metadata conforms to community standards in a way that is appropriate to the materials in the collection, users of the collection, and current and potential future uses of the collection.
Metadata Principle 2. Good metadata supports interoperability.
Metadata Principle 3. Good metadata uses authority control and content standards to describe objects and collocate related objects.
Metadata Principle 5. Good metadata supports the long-term curation and preservation of objects in collections.
Metadata Principle 6. Good metadata records are objects themselves and therefore should have the qualities of good objects, including authority, authenticity, archivability, persistence, and unique identification (National Information Standards Organization, 2007, pp. 61-62).
This piece of evidence showcases my ability to conduct a research study in the field of library and information science, in which I combine the primary and secondary research types, while using a qualitative research method.
INFO 241-12 technology topic report, Mobile Library OPACs in Academic Libraries
The fourth piece of evidence to demonstrate my mastery of competency L is a technology topic report from INFO 241-12 (Automated Library Systems – Topic: Emerging Technologies), Mobile Library OPACs in Academic Libraries. In the context of growing access to library catalogs via mobile devices, especially among younger and higher educated library users, it has become an imperative that academic libraries develop mobile-friendly online public access catalogs. This paper provides a comprehensive review of professional literature on the mobile library OPACs in academia, addressing their current state, examining the best practices in the field, and expressing some thoughts about areas for further development and research.
During my work on this assignment, I not only enhanced my knowledge of the mobile library OPACs in academia, I also learned to produce a comprehensive literature review of a major topic in emerging library technology, addressing the state of the technology and its application to information professionals, the most current advances and research regarding the technology, a critical evaluation of the professional literature on the topic, and recommendations for further development and research.
It is through scholarship and research that libraries and information organizations find ways to improve their organizational environments, and, most importantly, their programs and services, aimed at better information content, better information discovery, and better information delivery. Throughout my coursework in the MLIS program, I learned to distinguish between various types and methods of research, evaluate and synthesize research literature, and apply appropriate research methods in a specific work environment, including intellectual property, technical services, and library automation—among others. The knowledge of research methods and the research skills I have gained through the MLIS program will continue serving me well as I carry on in my future career in librarianship.
National Information Standards Organization. (2007). A Framework of Guidance for Building Good Digital Collections, 3rd edition. Retrieved from http://www.niso.org/publications/rp/framework3.pdf
Powell, R. (2008). Research. In K. Haycock, & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 168-178). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.