Basic Research Methods for Librarians, 5th Edition

by Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Ronald R. Powell


Fifty-nine percent of the respondents to a 2000 survey reported that their master's programs had not adequately prepared them to conduct research, something that has not changed much in the ensuing decade. Yet, many library and information services (LIS) practitioners are routinely called upon to conducted job-related research. Where can they turn for the guidance they need?

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September 2010

Libraries Unlimited

Pages 370
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Grade College
Topics Research Methods, Statistics, and Data/Research Methods
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Thoroughly updated, this book introduces the major issues involved in designing and conducting original research relevant to the fields of library and information science.

Addressed to practicing librarians and other information professionals, as well as master's and doctoral students in LIS programs, Basic Research Methods for Librarians, Fifth Edition specifically covers the research methodologies likely to be used by librarians, providing guidance on designing and conducting research and publishing research results.

Like its predecessors, this fifth edition is exceptionally comprehensive. Content has been thoroughly updated and sections have been added on social networking and other web-based research methods and techniques. The book emphasizes quantitative research, including survey and experimental studies. It also gives attention to qualitative research, including historical research. A chapter is devoted to the statistical analysis of research results. Evaluation, writing, and publishing of research reports are considered as well. Coauthored by distinguished researchers in library and information science, the book also includes contributions from experts on qualitative research, domain assumptions of research, and sampling.


  • Library and information science examples to explain research methodologies and techniques
  • Explanations and examples of sampling procedures
  • A table for determining sample sizes and a random number table
  • Notes at the end of each chapter, plus a list of more than 400 research-related references at the end of the book


  • Addresses the role of research in librarianship with supporting examples and discussions of studies within the library and information science field
  • Outlines the major steps in the development of a research study
  • Provides a broad spectrum of research methodologies, such as survey, experimental, qualitative, and historical
  • Includes detailed explanations of the guidelines for writing research proposals and research reports for publication and oral presentation
Author Info

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, PhD, is senior research scientist at OCLC Research. Her research has been funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and JISC in the United Kingdom. She has published numerous papers in various library and information science journals. Dr. Connaway was awarded the Gold Chalk Award for graduate teaching from the Graduate Professional Council at the University of Missouri-Columbia and named a teaching assistant fellow for graduate education from the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ronald R. Powell, PhD, is professor emeritus of the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University, Detroit, MI. His published works include Libraries Unlimited's The Next Library Leadership: Attributes of Academic and Public Library Directors and Convergence and Collaboration of Campus Information Services. His awards include the 2001 Scholarly Research Award from Wayne State University.

Topic Centers



Chapter 1: Research and Librarianship
Research Record
Definition of Research
Types of Previous Library Research
Limitations of Previous Library Research
Rationale for Basic Research in Library and Information Science
Growth of the Profession
Reading Research Reports
Improved Service to Researcher
Personal Benefits
The Future of Library Research

Chapter 2: Developing the Research Study
Planning for Research
The Scientific Method of Inquiry
A General Outline for Research
General Criteria for Basic Research
Identification of the Problem
Domain Assumptions of Research, by Jack D. Glazier
Characteristics of a Problem Suitable for Basic Research
Statement of the Problem
Identifying Subproblems
The Role of Theory in the Design of Research
Definition of Theory
The Formation of Theories
Testing the Theory
Formulating Hypotheses
Definitions of Hypotheses
Sources of Hypotheses
Developing the Hypothesis
Desirable Characteristics of Hypotheses
Testing the Hypothesis
Validity and Reliability
Validity of Research Design
Validity in Measurement
Logical Validity
Empirical Validity
Construct Validity
Reliability of Research Design
Reliability in Measurement

Chapter 3: Selecting the Research Method
Applied Research
Action Research
Evidence-Based Research
Evaluative Research
Qualitative Research
Specific Research Methods
Survey Research
Experimental Research
Historical Research
Operations Research
Systems Analysis
Case Study
Delphi Study
Content Analysis
Task-Based Research
Comparative Librarianship
Technology-Based Research Methods
Ethics of Research
General Guidelines
Guidelines for LIS Professionals
Ethics for Research on the Internet
Scientific and Research Misconduct
Additional Readings

Chapter 4: Survey Research and Sampling
Survey Research
Major Differences between Survey Research and Other Methods
Types of Survey Studies
Exploratory Surveys
Analytical and Descriptive Surveys
Other Types of Surveys
Basic Purposes of Descriptive Surveys
Basic Steps of Survey Research: An Overview
Formulating Objectives
Selecting Data Collection Techniques
Selecting the Sample
Collecting the Data
Analyzing and Interpreting the Results
Survey Research Designs
Survey Research Costs
Basic Terms and Concepts
Types of Sampling Methods
Nonprobability Sampling
Probability Sampling
Determining the Sample Size
Use of Formulas
Sampling Error
Other Causes of Sampling Error
Nonsampling Error
Sampling In-Library Use, by Sebastian Mundt

Chapter 5: Data Collection Techniques
The Questionnaire
Pre-Questionnaire Planning
Advantages of the Questionnaire
Disadvantages of the Questionnaire
Constructing the Questionnaire
Type of Question According to Information Needed
Type of Question According to Form
Scaled Responses
Question Content and Selection
Question Wording
Sequencing of Questionnaire Items
Sources of Error
Preparing the First Draft
Evaluating the Questionnaire
The Pretest
Final Editing
Cover Letter
Distribution of the Questionnaire
Mail Questionnaire
Electronic Questionnaire
The Interview
Developing the Interview
Conducting the Personal Interview
Disadvantages of the Interview
Advantages of the Interview
Focus Group Interviews
Analysis and Reporting of the Focus Group Data
Other Advantages and Disadvantages of the Focus
Group Interview
Telephone Interviews
Observation and Usability Testing
Advantages of Observational Research
Limitations of Observational Research
Unstructured Observation
Structured Observation
Usability Testing

Chapter 6: Experimental Research
The Conditions for Causality
Bases for Inferring Causal Relationships
Controlling the Variables
Random Assignment
Internal Validity
Threats to Internal Validity
External Validity
Threats to External Validity
Experimental Designs
True Experimental Designs
True Experiments and Correlational Studies
Difficulties to be Avoided
Evaluating the Experiment
Preexperimental Designs
Quasi-Experimental Designs
Ex Post Facto Designs
Web-Based Experiments

Chapter 7: Qualitative Research Methods
Lynn Westbrook
Underlying Principles of Naturalistic Work
Naturalism as a Research Paradigm
Naturalism in LIS Research
Ethical Concerns
Data Gathering Techniques
Documents: Questionnaires, Diaries, Journals, Papers, and More
Data Analysis Tools and Methods
Discourse Analysis
Content Analysis Basics
Content Analysis Terms
The Constant Comparative Method of Content Analysis
Coding Data
Coding Techniques
Moving from Codes to Theory
Insuring Coding Integrity
Developing Grounded Theory
Ensuring Integrity
Primary Techniques
Additional Techniques
Presentation of Findings

Chapter 8: Historical Research
Nature and Value of Historical Research
Importance of Historical Research to Librarianship
Types of Historical Research
Sources of Historical Information
Evaluation of Historical Sources
External Criticism
Internal Criticism
Basic Steps of Historical Research
The Hypothesis in Historical Research
Collecting the Data
The Presentation of Findings
Library History
Bibliographical Research
Systematic Bibliography
Descriptive Bibliography
Problems in Historical Research

Chapter 9: Analysis of Data
Role of Statistics
Cautions in Using Statistics
Steps Involved in Statistical Analysis
The Establishment of Categories
Coding the Data
Analyzing the Data—Descriptive Statistics
Analyzing the Data—Inferential Statistics
Parametric Statistics
Nonparametric Statistics
Selecting the Appropriate Statistical Test
Cautions in Testing the Hypothesis
Statistical Analysis Software
Analysis of Nonquantified Data

Chapter 10: Writing the Research Proposal
Value of Research Proposals
Organization and Content of a Typical Proposal
Title Page
Table of Contents
Introduction and Statement of the Problem
Review of Related Research
Research Design
Institutional Resources
Anticipated Results
Limitations of the Study
Back Matter
Characteristics of a Good Proposal
Features That Detract from a Proposal
Obtaining Funding for LIS Research

Chapter 11: Writing the Research Report
General Objectives of the Research Report
General Outline of the Research Report
The Preliminaries/Front Matter
The Text
Back Matter
Guidelines for Organizing and Presenting the Research Report
Organization of the Report
Footnotes and Documentation
Prose Style of the Report
Text Preparation
Graphic Presentation of Data
Oral Presentations of the Report
Evaluating the Research Report
Suggested Criteria for Judging a Research Report
Publishing Research Results

Author Index
Subject Index

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