INFO 285 Research Methods– A Required Course with a Wealth of Opportunities

iStudent Blog

Published: February 24, 2016

The iSchool only requires a handful of courses to complete your MLIS degree, leaving the rest of your 43 units up to you. You know about your core courses—Info 200 Information Communities, Info 202 Information Retrieval System Design and Info 204 Information Professions.

The other course that is required by the iSchool – beyond the thesis or eportfolio – frequently slips through the cracks.  Info 285 Research Methods is an important class not only for the completion of your degree but also for navigating your way through many of your other courses. In fact, I recommend you take this course early to provide yourself the essential foundation of identifying, evaluating and applying research that will become significantly useful throughout your MLIS program.

Learn from my mistakes. I charged ahead, eager to take materials courses, learn about online reference resources and try my hand at computer programming (no dice). If I had taken Research Methods early, I might have struggled less with writing my papers, understood how to read all that jargon and the charts in professional research articles and had a deeper comprehension of how and why library and information systems run. 

It wasn’t until I listened to a presentation on Info 285 Research Methods by iSchool associate professor Dr. Lili Luo that I was encouraged and excited to enroll in this course, even if I didn’t do it when I should have.

The presentation, sponsored by the iSchool’s ASIS&T student chapter on March 19, 2015, covered all the reasons why LIBR 285 is so important, what the student learning outcomes are and the variety of subjects that are offered in the iSchool MLIS curriculum. The course teaches problem solving skills, and the importance of understanding research literature in a variety of fields, not just LIS, so that you can evaluate and apply the findings to your own research and programs. Info 285 also stresses the importance of being able to identify issues in your field, critically evaluate research findings and then properly apply them to solve the issue.

As you’re looking towards your final eportfolio class and linking the core competencies to your classes (which, by the way, you should always be doing), be aware that Info 285, regardless of section and subject, covers Core Competency L. In order for this competency to be fulfilled, a student must demonstrate an understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods and the evaluation and synthesis of research literature.

The sections you can choose from include a variety of subjects and Luo explains each one in her presentation, including the different instructors for each. Topics are as follows: 

  • General
  • Youth Services
  • Evaluating Programs and Services—a very practical class since so many libraries use a variety of assessment tools. 
  • Action Research—looks at process research and problem-solving; good for public services and programs.
  • Survey Research—taught by Dr. Luo herself.
  • Historical Research and Writing
  • Ethnography—this class focuses on the research process that studies people and cultures from the point of view of the subjects.  The class is highly collaborative in nature. 
  • Assessment of Information Literacy Instruction—this topic is great for those who want to work in an academic library setting or those who want to teach.
  • Grant Writing—focuses on research principles in identifying local library needs, gathering data and preparing grant applications. 
  • Records Management & Archival Science—teacher is Jason Kaltenbacher who teaches MARA courses as well.

Luo’s final advice mirrors my suggestion at the beginning—take Info 285 as early as possible. She suggests reviewing syllabi of previous sections and then check the rotation schedule for the ones that interest you. She also encourages students to talk to classmates, instructors, and their advisor about the different LIBR 285 topics offered to identify the one that best fits them.

Take a look at Luo’s presentation, too, and go forward (early!) and get Info 285 Research Methods under your belt.

Related Content:
Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Leadership and Management
Core Competencies at the iSchool Build the Foundation for a Successful Career
Links to Your Best Resources as You Start the SJSU iSchool

image courtesy of renjith krishnan


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