Conducting research in Librarianship


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presented at the Philippine Librarians Association Inc.-Southern Tagalog Region Librarians Chapter Seminar held at La Vista Pansol, Laguna, Philippines, 9 Oct 2007

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  • Conducting research in Librarianship

    1. 1. Conducting Research in Librarianship: an overview by Fe Angela M. Verzosa
    2. 2. This presentation… <ul><li>Tackles the role of library research in understanding the needs to which libraries should be responsive </li></ul><ul><li>Explores the problems and issues involved in library research </li></ul><ul><li>Assesses the effectiveness of various research approaches </li></ul><ul><li>Discusses research trends </li></ul><ul><li>Recommends a research agenda by which the profession can promote library research and encourage librarians to conduct research </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>It is a responsibility of every professional . </li></ul><ul><li>Every librarian should approach all problem solving activities with methodologies that acknowledge research as appropriate, desirable, and even necessary . </li></ul><ul><li>Librarians can make better decisions about how to achieve library effectiveness if they have a knowledge of the research process, and, as individuals, they can more effectively consume professional research literature. </li></ul><ul><li>Research is central to the continued development of library and information science as a profession or discipline which matures and gains stature through its theory and research, as well as through those who advance its theory and research. </li></ul>Why research?…
    4. 4. Why not?.... <ul><li>Librarians feel ill-equipped to conduct research because they do not have a solid background in methodology? </li></ul><ul><li>Research is discouraged in their workplace. </li></ul><ul><li>They are overburdened with daily tasks that they do not find the time. </li></ul><ul><li>Conducting research is not important to their work . </li></ul><ul><li>It is not significant to advance their career/reputation. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Basic issues --- Competence & Readiness <ul><li>Is reading research literature part of job expectation? </li></ul><ul><li>Is time to read research literature included in working hours? </li></ul><ul><li>To what extent do Librarians read the research literature? </li></ul><ul><li>Is access to library literature readily available? </li></ul><ul><li>Do librarians find research literature applicable to their job functions? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of researches are applicable or relevant to library functions, services, or have impact on the profession? </li></ul><ul><li>Do they apply the results of researches to their practice? </li></ul><ul><li>Are they trained to conduct research? </li></ul>
    6. 6. Basic issues… --- Attitude or Research-mindedness <ul><li>Are they interested in research? </li></ul><ul><li>What are their attitudes toward research? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they assess their research skills? </li></ul><ul><li>What kind of incentives are provided to motivate librarians to conduct research? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Survey results… <ul><li>Librarians who are given time to read on the job read library literature but not research-based literature on a regular basis . </li></ul><ul><li>15% of those who gave reasons for not reading research-based articles checked that they did not have enough expertise in research methods. </li></ul><ul><li>50% indicated that their master’s degree program adequately prepared them to read and understand research-based publications. </li></ul><ul><li>Only 4 out of 10 are given time to do research . Of the 4 given time, only 2 will conduct research. </li></ul><ul><li>Only 50% of the researches conducted were published. </li></ul><ul><li>As to support, about 50% were given time-off ; 25% internal funding, and 15% external. </li></ul><ul><li>As to application of research to practice, only 50% occasionally did, while 25% seldom , and 15% frequently did. </li></ul>
    8. 8. Definition <ul><li>Library Research can be broadly defined as the “systematic study and investigation of some aspect of library and information science in which conclusions are based on the statistical analysis of data collected in accordance with a pre-established research design and methodology .” </li></ul>
    9. 9. Research methodologies… <ul><li>case study </li></ul><ul><li>content analysis </li></ul><ul><li>descriptive survey </li></ul><ul><li>program evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>experimental </li></ul><ul><li>observational </li></ul><ul><li>qualitative </li></ul>
    10. 10. Case study <ul><li>one of the most popular research methods </li></ul><ul><li>describes and analyzes the researcher’s experiences with a process, group, innovation, technology, project, population, program, or organization </li></ul><ul><li>has been widely used to answer questions of how or why events occurred as reported </li></ul><ul><li>criticisms of case studies have centered on the unbalanced reporting styles of researchers who depict an experience in an overly negative or positive light. Even the most laudatory case studies should include negative outcomes as “lessons learned” to lend greater balance to the reporting style </li></ul>
    11. 11. Descriptive survey <ul><li>Surveys can be employed as part of a larger observational or experimental methodology such as a cohort study or a randomized controlled trial. </li></ul><ul><li>A descriptive survey , by contrast, typically seeks to ascertain respondents' perspectives or experiences on a specified subject in a predetermined structured manner. </li></ul><ul><li>Citation analysis represents a variation of the descriptive survey method. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Program evaluation <ul><li>occurs on a daily basis in our profession with varying degrees of rigor </li></ul><ul><li>defined as the “ systematic assessment of the operation and/or the outcomes of a program or policy, compared to explicit or implicit standards, in order to help improve the program or policy ” </li></ul><ul><li>can be conceptualized along a continuum from its formative type to its summative type </li></ul><ul><li>Formative evaluation focuses on the program evaluation as the program evolves. </li></ul><ul><li>Summative evaluation focuses on the outcomes toward the end or at another critical juncture in determining the future direction of a program. </li></ul><ul><li>Some have argued that true program evaluation offers a “way of gathering comparative information so that results from the program being evaluated can be placed within a context for judgment of their size and worth . . . </li></ul><ul><li>helping the evaluator to predict how things might have been had the program not occurred or if some other program had occurred instead </li></ul>
    13. 13. Unobtrusive Observation <ul><li>recognizes the possibility that people will behave differently when they know they are part of a research study or under the direct observation of a physically present researcher </li></ul><ul><li>attempts to study human actions and preferences without the act of studying subjects causing them to change or misreport those actions or preferences </li></ul><ul><li>entire research tradition involving unobtrusive observation related to the accuracy and quality of reference services </li></ul><ul><li>Some of these studies also have raised ethical concerns </li></ul>
    14. 14. Effectiveness of research approaches <ul><li>Librarians need to explore which types of research approaches best answer their problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research such as observational studies might be the best choice for a particular research question. For example, rather than having control and experimental groups to compare use of two different types of reference service in a university setting, an observational study to examine the effect of each reference service would be more practical. </li></ul><ul><li>The research methodology for problems which will likely involve users of a library's service, will probably be quite different from Collections or Management types of problems, which do not necessarily involve users in the study design. </li></ul><ul><li>Librarianship, which has grown out of the social sciences, relies more heavily on qualitative than quantitative studies. </li></ul>
    15. 15. Evidence-based Librarianship (EBL) <ul><li>is a means to improve the profession of librarianship by asking questions as well as finding, critically appraising and incorporating research evidence from library science (and other disciplines) into daily practice. </li></ul><ul><li>It also involves encouraging librarians to conduct high quality qualitative and quantitative research. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Research trends… <ul><li>A small but growing number of researchers are regularly contributing to the literature. </li></ul><ul><li>The quantity of published research has increased since 1980. </li></ul><ul><li>The general quality of research has improved since 1980. </li></ul><ul><li>Within the library and information profession, awareness and perceived importance of research has improved. </li></ul>
    17. 17. Research trends… <ul><li>Theses and Dissertations are the predominant form of research. </li></ul><ul><li>Most research is survey-based and descriptive. </li></ul><ul><li>Even though there are examples of different methodologies being used (citation analysis, content analysis, observation, etc), over 90 percent of the studies employ some methodology other than experimental. </li></ul><ul><li>Existing research does not build on previous research in the field. </li></ul>
    18. 18. Research trends… <ul><li>Most researches relied upon data-gathering method and questionnaires were the predominant methodology. </li></ul><ul><li>Seldom used were content analysis , which is the examination of records, literature, or other materials, experimental designs , and interviews as a single method for gathering data. </li></ul><ul><li>There has been no attempt to label studies as quantitative or qualitative , but the application of multiple methods in data gathering clearly suggests a shift toward use of qualitative methods. </li></ul><ul><li>The array of topics studied appears to be diverse. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Research trends… <ul><li>In the international journal literature, information storage and retrieval was the most popular topic, as well as the subtopic on classification and indexing. </li></ul><ul><li>Library and information services was the second most popular, with collections, administration and automation as the popular subtopic. </li></ul><ul><li>Information seeking was the third most popular topic, with use of library and information services as popular subtopic. </li></ul><ul><li>Other popular topics were unique to China: principles of library and information science , and the information industry . </li></ul><ul><li>Library history accounted for 43% of the research topic articles in the early period, but did not feature as a popular topic. </li></ul>
    20. 20. <ul><li>More research on technology is needed, especially studies that analyze client-use patterns and preferences, using multiple methods for gathering data. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: studies of online and CD-ROM systems, computer-assisted instruction, client perception of web-based tutorials, and technology applications in different library services </li></ul>Research Agenda…
    21. 21. <ul><li>Studies on the information needs of clientele should be focused by groups, e.g., teachers by subject area, or students by age group . </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: Bases of user satisfaction in academic libraries among freshmen or graduate students </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative studies of users' perspectives and preferences for various information resources are needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: collection development based on assessed needs, organization and storage of information sources to facilitate retrieval and use, effective repackaging of information, and dissemination issues. </li></ul>Research Agenda…
    22. 22. <ul><li>Call for research that investigates information professionals who model the roles of library specialists should be heeded. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex.: investigative studies of leadership, roles of such specialists as the research librarian, the media specialist, etc. </li></ul>Research Agenda…
    23. 23. Case studies for the management and evaluation of effective library programs. Ex.: Evaluation of curriculum-integrated programs through assessment of student learning, management issues such as planning, policy development and implementation, and program evaluation, etc. Research Agenda…
    24. 24. Conclusion While not many have expressed an optimism for research, we share the view that optimism for research in librarianship is well-founded. The research climate is improving. More researchers are asking questions beyond what is being done and how. We hope to see this trend continue.
    25. 25. Many thanks for coming to this seminar!