Research and Assessment
Today, libraries, archives, museums and the IT sector seek creative information professionals who can develop innovative ways of meeting user expectations for engagement and interaction with people and information while supporting change and innovation within their organization. Research and assessment are at the heart of this process and when placed in a creative framework, empower one to identify problems, explore solutions and choose the best course of action to develop user-centered information services.
If you like to challenge the status quo and wonder how things can be improved, you have already entered the path of research and innovation. Research and assessment courses at Pratt SILS will equip you with the skills needed to embark on a comprehensive, dynamic, and ongoing journey of innovation, beginning with an effort to design, develop, and implement new ways to serve and connect with information users. Students taking in the Research and Assessment Core are prepared with the knowledge and skills to meet these challenges.
|Kerri O’Connell, Amanda Foster, Aimee Slater, Victoria Ludas-Orlofsky, Fatoma Rad, Leanora Lange, Anna White present “Investigating Higher Education Reading Preferences”, a panel based on LIS608 and LIS630 project, SILS Showcase ’13|
A solid understanding of the research process is valuable in many professional activities, including data management, academic and medical librarianship, leadership, grant writing, scholarly communication, research, and usability. Involvement in research enables an individual to be an effective professional and leader, and strengthens an organization’s status within the larger professional community. Ability to conduct research and assessment projects and disseminate the findings with the broader community through publications is often required for promotion and tenure. Research is an essential element of the doctoral study and subsequent entry into research careers within the field of Information and Library Science (LIS).
Research is one of the ALA’s eight Core Competences of Librarianship (2009). The benefits of mastering research and assessment skills include the ability to:
- read and think critically
- evaluate and understand existing research reports
- conduct original user-centered research and assessment work
- produce effective insights into professional issues
- improve professional decision-making
- provide more meaningful services to patrons (Auckland, 2012).
By involving students in real projects, the SILS research courses introduce them to the theories, research designs, data analysis methods, and publication practices used in LIS. Students who take research courses will be able to:
- Demonstrate knowledge of LIS theories
- Understand the main social science research methods used in the LIS field
- Gain first-hand experience in developing and conducting a research project
- Learn to apply appropriate data collection and data analysis methods
- Create publishable-quality research papers to effectively communicate research findings to the professional community
- Become familiar with the process of submitting work for publication
You can learn more about SILS student research and publications at: http://research.prattsils.org/
Recommended Core Research Courses
Three courses introduce students to the core elements of the research process: theory and practice (LIS608), research methods and practice (LIS630), data analysis and publication (LIS697-11). All students should consider taking at least one of these core research courses:
LIS 608 Human Information Behavior
This course examines the concepts of information, information needs, and the process of seeking information. Models of information behavior and major theories, paradigms, and perspectives related to information seeking are addressed. Characteristics of information seeking behavior are explored as they relate to individuals and groups in various social roles, demographic areas and occupations as well as issues related to user-centered service and system design.
LIS 630 Information Science Research [to be re-named Research Design and Methods]
An introduction to research design and methods in information and library science. The course is intended for students with no previous coursework or background in research methods. The objective is to equip students with critical skills for understanding quantitative and qualitative research methods, designing their own studies, using research methods to collect original data, and critiquing published research. Topics include research question development; research design concepts, such as causal inference, sampling, and reliability; research methods, such as surveys, interviews, ethnographies, for original data collection; and critical evaluation of research.
LIS 697-11 Data Analysis and Publication
This course introduces quantitative and qualitative data analysis methods used in basic and applied information and library science research and guides students through the development of the core components for a social science publication. The course focuses on the topics related to preparation of data for analysis; content analysis methods; statistical methods; data representation, modeling and visualization; research (grant) proposal writing; preparation of research publication and presentation. The topics related to the research design are also discussed.
Recommended Complementary Courses
The following SILS courses introduce students to the concepts and skills that complement the core research expertise in the following areas:
LIS 605 Digital Resources and User Interaction: the course introduces students to a wide range of digital collections and prepares to conduct a literature review
LIS 611 Information policy: the research seminar style course that covers a range of information policy issues
LIS 643 Information Architecture & Interaction Design: the course is about user-centered design, which involves using specific types of research to derive insights about potential users
LIS 644 Usability Theory & Practice: the research course on usability methods
LIS 658 Information Visualization: the course covers the techniques for processing and manipulating information for the purpose of visualization
For students who are thinking about pursuing a PhD after graduation, the research core becomes essential to achieving that goal.
ALA's Core Competences of Librarianship (2009). Retrieved from: http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/sites/ala.org.educationcareers/files/content/careers/corecomp/corecompetences/finalcorecompstat09.pdf
Auckland, M. (2012). Re-Skilling for Research. London: Research Libraries UK. Retrieved from: http://www.rluk.ac.uk/files/RLUK%20Re-skilling.pdf