LIS 504 (2001 Fall - Section 001) - General information


Research Methods and Statistics.

Time and place

Thursday evenings, 6:30-9:20, MC 15a.


Tim Craven, MC 272, tel. 661-2111 ext. 88497.


  1. To introduce students to the range of research methods, both quantitative and qualitative, that are used to investigate questions in library and information science in order to give students the conceptual tools to evaluate examples of LIS research in terms of reliability, validity and significance;
  2. To help students understand the process of undertaking research from finding a researchable question to choosing an appropriate method to investigate the problem, satisfying ethical concerns related to research, gathering data, analysing the data, and communicating the results;
  3. To illustrate the research process with selected examples of LIS research, including examples of applied research used in professional settings, such as needs assessment and program evaluation;
  4. To introduce students to some basic concepts and techniques in the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data, including descriptive statistics and coding, measures of central tendency, measures of variability, frequency distributions, and correlation as well as the concept of significance testing in inferential statistics and approaches to coding qualitative data.


A mixture of discussion under direction of the professor, short lectures and demonstrations to introduce new topics, a couple of quizzes, a lab session, and guest speakers.

Normally attendance at all classes, except for reasons of family emergency, serious illness, or religious obligation, is required. However, on September 20 and 27 and October 11, 18, and 25, attendance will be optional during the second half of the class, which will involve going over basic research concepts as covered in the course Web pages.

Course documentation

Where appropriate (as with this general information handout) documentation will be provided in preprinted form. For other documentation, consult the course Web pages [ or, on the Intranet,].


date and time requirement % of final mark
Sept. 19, 4:30 pm Examination of a research report I 6%
Sep. 26, 4:30 pm Examination of a research report II 6%
Oct. 4 (in class) Short quiz on concepts covered to date 7%
Oct. 10, 4:30 pm Example of a questionnaire 2%
Oct. 17, 4:30 pm Comment on Tri-Council ethics guidelines 6%
Oct. 24, 4:30 pm Two charts and your comments 6%
Nov. 1 (in class) Mid-term quiz on basic research concepts 14%
Nov. 7, 4:30 pm Evaluation of research report 6%
Nov. 15, 8:30 am Question for guest speaker 2%
Nov. 29, 8:30 am Question for guest speaker 2%
Dec. 6, 8:30 am Question for guest speaker 2%
Dec. 13, 8:30 am Question for guest speaker 2%
Dec. 13, 6:30 pm (at start of class) Research proposal 21%
Class participation* 18%
Total 100%

*Class participation marks may be lowered for students who repeatedly arrive late or return late from class breaks, even if they otherwise attend all classes.

Letter grades will be assigned to each of the major components of course work (separate letter grades will not be assigned to the components worth 2%). An appropriately weighted average of these will be computed, assuming an equal-interval scale for the C- to A+ range. The result will then be translated into a numeric mark to meet the requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Short reports

Short reports (due September 19 and 26, October 17 and 24, and November 7) will follow up on points dealt with in one class, lay the ground for further discussion in the following class, and provide a selective sample of your work for evaluation and feedback purposes. What is actually expected is indicated in the "Assignments" file [504ass.htm].

The assignment will form the basis for evaluating each report. Criteria used in evaluating all reports will be correctness, clarity of thought and presentation, and coverage of all parts of the assignment. Weight be given to the number of significant points made within the length indicated. You are reminded that intentional duplication of another student's work constitutes a violation of the policy on plagiarism.

In addition to letter grades, more specific comments (usually suggestions for improvement) may be added to reports where appropriate. Codes indicating certain good (, *) and bad (-, >, ) points will also appear, but these are basically mnemonics to assist in the marking process.

All short reports should be received by the professor or slipped under the door of MC 272 by 4:30 pm on the Wednesday before the class. Do not place reports in the FIMS drop box, since delivery is usually delayed. If e-mailing, allow enough time for delivery and check the e-mail in your "Sent" folder to make sure that you transmitted the correct attachment.


Professor to students: Marked short reports will be handed back before the seminar. Discussion in seminars will provide considerable general feedback. Additional individual feedback (for example, on class participation) is available on request.

Students to professor: See the professor directly, or use the feedback session.

Recommended readings

Copies of the following have been ordered for the Bookstore: This book is recommended for those who would like a printed textbook, but is not required.

You may also wish to use the online textbook

A number of books on research methods have been placed on reserve.

A selected list of links to relevant Web sites can be found in the file 504bib.htm.


# Class date Topics Suggested readings
1 Sep. 13 Introduction to the course.
What is research? Kinds of research. Steps in research.
Palys ch. 1-2
2 Sep. 20 Reviewing the literature. Role of theory. Researchable questions.
Operational definitions. Validity and reliability.
Levels of measurement.
Palys ch. 3-4 and p. 320-324.
3 Sep. 27 Sampling. Generalizability.
Measures of central tendency and dispersion.
Palys ch. 7 and p. 324-335.
4 Oct. 4 Short quiz.
Introductory lab on Microsoft Excel.
5 Oct. 11 Data gathering: surveys and questionnaires.
The normal curve. Hypothesis testing.
Palys ch. 8 and p. 335-358.
6 Oct. 18 Ethics. Communicating results.
Chi square and t test. Correlation.
Palys ch. 6
7 Oct. 25 Visual display of results: charts, graphs, and tables.
8 Nov. 1 Mid-term quiz.
Review of research fundamentals.
9 Nov. 8 Evaluation of published research reports.
Palys ch. 11-12.
10 Nov. 15 Guest speaker, Cathy Maskell, "The effects of consortia activity on the professional roles of academic librarians".
Problem solving and invention.
11 Nov. 22 Unobtrusive measures: content analysis and coding. Palys ch. 10.
12 Nov. 29 Guest speaker: Carole Farber, "Methodologies for research on cybercommunications".
Interviews and focus groups.
Questions on research proposal assignment.
(Palys ch. 8.)
13 Dec. 6 Guest speaker, Gaile McGregor, "Unemployment protection for older workers: a case study of systematic bias in a statutory regime".
Case study.
Questions on research proposal assignment.
Palys ch. 13.
14 Dec. 13 Guest speaker, Lynne McKechnie, "Patricia Spereman and the beginning of Canadian public library work with children".


Last updated October 19, 2001.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only):
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7