Research has been gaining more and more emphasis in library and information settings and research ability is seen as an attribute to MLIS graduates.
The purpose of doing research in the library and information profession is to obtain a better understanding of specific phenomenon in libraries by collecting, processing and analyzing data drawn through various research methods. It usually originates with a problem or question, starts with manageable sub-problems and a clear articulation of goals and objectives, developed with collection and interpretation of data and ends with a distinctive conclusion. Research in library profession is an evidence-based practice. It thereby helps to guard against the dangers of inaccurate and selective observation, overgeneralization, unilateral information, unbiased reasoning, incomplete understanding, rush closing of inquiry, etc. Its ultimate goal is to improve the librarianship profession by identifying and presenting real problems and attempting at finding practical and realistic solutions. Research in library and information profession usually has library system performance and users as focuses, representing a priority of services to users in library setting.
Qualitative and quantitative paradigms are two research methods frequently used for the purpose of collecting necessary data. The previous method is a human-centred inductive way to pull out information from individual experience. It is usually carried out in the form of semi-structured or unstructured interview, observation, focus group, case study, etc. The latter one is a deductive natural science model, and is usually carried out in the form of structured interview, questionnaire, surveys, etc. For a research using quantitative method, the criteria for quality research are validity, generalizability, reliability and objectivity, while for qualitative method the criteria are credibility, transferability, dependability and confirmability. The other research method is textual research, which collects data from existing literature and bases research conclusion on the analysis of textual data. The choice of research method depends on the characteristics of the research problem, and different formats of the research data serve different research purposes. The way to analyze the data would largely depend on the epistemology and theoretical perspective applied by researchers.
The LIS 505 Research Methodology course gives a systematic instruction on the whole process of writing a research proposal, leading us from coming up with research problem, doing literature review, choosing the suitable research method for our research question, designing questionnaire, details on carrying out interview and sending out survey, sampling, analyzing data by using suitable epistemology, to planning for publishing and disseminating research results, budgeting and making timeline.
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