Content analysis of LIS journal articles: What kinds of research are LIS practitioners engaged in


Published: October 8, 2013 by Dr. Lili Luo

Over the years of teaching LIBR 285, Research Methods in Library and Information Science, I have always wanted to do one thing – to look at the journal publications of practitioner researchers and see what kinds of research they are producing, and how their research is informing the decisions they make in their practice. This will help my students better understand and appreciate the value of the research methods course, and therefore embrace it more willingly and enthusiastically. So I developed a grant proposal based on this idea and submitted it to the SJSU Research Scholarship and Creative Activity (RSCA) Program, and luckily it got funded, which means I will spend my next summer working on this project.

I plan to conduct a critical content analysis of the articles published in the core practitioner-oriented LIS research journals in the past decade, identifying the topics, trends, methods, strengths, and weaknesses of practitioner research. The content analysis will (1) determine the topics studied by practitioners; (2) provide a historical view of LIS research; (3) identify what methodological designs have been used and whether they have been used appropriately; and (4) ascertain exemplary areas of practitioner research as well as areas in need of improvement. Hopefully, findings from this study will yield insights for enhancing both research methods education for LIS students and research training for practitioners.

Speaking of content analysis, a book that has helped me a lot with this methodology is “Content Analysis: An Introduction to Its Methodology”, by Klaus Krippendorff. Especially the chapters on evaluative techniques offer some good ideas on addressing issues related to reliability and validity. Maybe it’s time to revisit the book before I start this project of analyzing journal articles.


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