ILS 680 Evaluation and Research
Prof. Chang Suk Kim
Principles and methods of evaluation and research are systematically reviewed. Major research undertakings are considered, as well as landmark studies.
This course fulfills a core requirement of the MLS program at SCSU.
Learning Goals and Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Define research problems and scientific research procedures in general;
- Understand the philosophical concepts and methodologies involved in library and information studies;
- Develop an understanding of the role of research in library and information services;
- Become familiar with a variety of research methods and approaches;
- Gain practical experience with research design;
- Conduct a systematic study undertaking a research project in an area that the student has defined.
Highlights of the Course and Samples of Work
The focus of this class is on the design, implementation, and documentation of a major research project. Each student identifies a question that interests him or her, develops a set of hypotheses that address the question, selects a research methodology, designs procedures that will test the hypotheses, executes the procedure, analyses the results, and develops some conclusions based on those results. The student also researches and documents related literature and research, and proposes areas for further research and study. During class discussions, the projects, plans, methodologies, and analyses of each student are discussed and critiqued. One-on-one consultations with the professor are conducted at the proposal, planning, and analysis stages of the project. The final products are the research paper and a brief oral presentation to the class.
The biggest hurdle in this course is probably the first stage, selecting the topic of the research project. In my short three years in the public library field, I have identified many questions that puzzle, concern, or frustrate me, and choosing just one was difficult. It had to be interesting enough to hold my attention for a semester, but not so interesting that the study itself could not be completed in just one semester. Taking into account the possible delay introduced by the requirement to obtain IRB (Internal Review Board) approval for any project involving human subjects, I chose to pursue a question that could be addressed using only existing statistics and an examination of existing public library websites.
Two additional statistics that I would have liked to have included in this study were missing from the State Library's annual statistics. So a couple of months after the semseter was over, I conducted a brief survey of the members of Conntech, a listserv for Connecticut's technology librarians, asking them if they collected and reported database usage statistics and website usage statistics. These are perhaps still too new to be considered "traditional" library services, but I found that the real hurdles to reporting them are the lack of a consistent standard that every library can use for collecting and reporting the data. This "study" lacks the rigor of the semester-long project, but nevertheless produced some interesting and unexpected, to me, results, and seems like a good starting point for further research into the problem of inconsistent database and website usage statistics.Tracking Online Usage Statistics