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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Cover image for Basic Research Methods for Librarians

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.

Table of Contents

ContentsPrefaceChapter 1: Research and LibrarianshipResearch 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 Management Reading Research Reports Improved Service to Researcher Personal Benefits The Future of Library Research Chapter 2: Developing the Research StudyPlanning for ResearchThe Scientific Method of Inquiry A General Outline for Research General Criteria for Basic ResearchIdentification 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 Variables Concepts 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 Scales SummaryChapter 3: Selecting the Research Method Applied Research Action Research Evidence-Based Research Evaluative ResearchQualitative ResearchSpecific Research Methods Survey Research Experimental Research Historical Research Operations Research Modeling Systems Analysis Case Study Delphi Study Content Analysis Bibliometrics Task-Based Research Comparative Librarianship Technology-Based Research MethodsEthics of Research General Guidelines Guidelines for LIS Professionals Ethics for Research on the Internet Scientific and Research Misconduct SummaryAdditional Readings Chapter 4: Survey Research and Sampling Survey Research Major Differences between Survey Research and Other MethodsTypes of Survey Studies Exploratory Surveys Analytical and Descriptive Surveys Other Types of Surveys Basic Purposes of Descriptive SurveysBasic 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 Sampling 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 ErrorNonsampling Error Sampling In-Library Use, by Sebastian MundtSummaryChapter 5: Data Collection Techniques The Questionnaire Pre-Questionnaire Planning Advantages of the Questionnaire Disadvantages of the QuestionnaireConstructing 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 LetterDistribution 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 TestingSummaryChapter 6: Experimental Research Causality 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 ExperimentsSummaryChapter 7: Qualitative Research MethodsLynn WestbrookUnderlying Principles of Naturalistic Work Naturalism as a Research Paradigm Naturalism in LIS Research Ethical ConcernsData Gathering Techniques Sampling Observation Interviews 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 SummaryChapter 8: Historical Research Nature and Value of Historical Research Chronology Importance of Historical Research to Librarianship Types of Historical ResearchSources of Historical InformationEvaluation 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 ResearchSummaryChapter 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 SummaryChapter 10: Writing the Research ProposalValue of Research ProposalsOrganization and Content of a Typical Proposal Title Page Abstract Table of Contents Introduction and Statement of the Problem Review of Related Research Research Design Institutional Resources Personnel Budget Anticipated Results Limitations of the Study Back Matter Characteristics of a Good ProposalFeatures That Detract from a Proposal Obtaining Funding for LIS Research SummaryChapter 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 ReportPublishing Research Results SummaryReferencesAuthor IndexSubject Index

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