Quantitative and Qualitative methods in Library Research

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Quantitative and Qualitative methods in Library Research. Amy Catalano, Ed.D ., MLS, MALS Associate Professor of Library Services, Hofstra University. Library Research. Library research tends to be rather poor. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Quantitative and Qualitative methods in Library ResearchAmy Catalano, Ed.D., MLS, MALSAssociate Professor of Library Services, Hofstra UniversityLibrary ResearchLibrary research tends to be rather poor.Generally, studies are related to immediate practices and situations and are not generalizable.Non-cumulativeMany academic librarians have not been trained to do empirical researchWhich methods to choose?Many new researchers make the mistake of choosing a method before they have a research question.

The research question will define the method

But, can you do the study well with the resources that you have?Choosing a topicHow I done it goodSolving a problem you or your colleagues have hadExplore a theory (e.g., of information-seeking behavior)Test the efficacy of an interventionExploring use of a library serviceExplore use of a purchased resource (e.g., a database)Look at reports published by ACRL which identifies areas of needed research. For example: The Value of Academic Libraries by Megan Oakleaf Read through TOC/abstracts of recent issues of journals.

http://www.ala.org/acrl/sites/ala.org.acrl/files/content/issues/value/val_report.pdfDesigning a research questionA research question should be focused enough to be answerable in an article, for example.

What are the information seeking behaviors of college students? May be too broad.

What are in the information seeking behaviors of History graduate students writing a capstone paper? is more focused.Scientific MethodIdentify a problemGather dataDevelop a hypothesisEmpirically test that hypothesis by analyzing dataImplications for your StudyDoes your study have implications for others in your field? If not, you should do some rethinking.You study should:-be replicable-universally be able to be researched by others-control: have parameters and identify factors that will affect your results (e.g., SES)

Research design basics: Participants And SamplingPopulation: The larger group from which you will draw your sample (e.g., 250 undergraduate students registered with the Students with Disabilities Office)Sample: Should be random, and therefore generalizable to the chosen populationHowever, convenience sampling is often the norm.When doing a teaching intervention, for example, entire classes can be randomly assigned to conditions. This is cluster sampling. Sample SizeQualitative: between 1 and 70 (or even more). Although more than 20 is rare. More is not always better or useful in qualitative research. It is better to ask is the sample representative of what you are investigating?

Quantitative: Varies by method: 30 for each group in experimental research. For surveys 10-20% of the population, although this depdents of the size of the population.

The more the merrier!The larger the population, the smaller the sample size you need. Beyond 5000 Ns is irrelevant and 400 is adequate. For a samll population (100), no point in sampling. Populaiton of 500, 50% should be sampled.9Research Design Basic: InstrumentsIf you are going to use a survey, interview protocol or test, you should ensure its reliability and validity. (pp. 61-66, Seligpani)

Reliability: How well an instrument consistently measures whatever it is measuring.

Validity: How well the instrument measures what it is supposed to measure. Several types of validity (e.g., content)Qualitative RQResearch Questions:How does, Why does, (Process questions: the answer is not a number, more exploratory).Methods:Interviews, observations, discourse analysisSome results can be quantified

Qualitative RQWhat are the perceptions of history students on the availability of primary sources electronically?

This question can be answered through different methods:A surveyInterviewFocus groupA case studyQualitative methodsInterviewsNot meant to be generalizable, so a small sample is acceptableDiverse views are helpfulStructure or unstructured (or semi-structured)Listen more, talk less. Ask open ended questions.It is best to record an interview, which will allow you to take notes.ObservationsWatching participants to examine a phenomenon.E.g., Observing students navigating a database without instruction to determine how they instinctively search.Participant or non-participantTaking notes and having a rubricIt is better to have more than one observer and to calibrate training and check on consistency of observationsFocus Groups Like interviews, but includes several individuals to allow for a collected understanding

All participants must get their say

Recording and transcribing a good practice as the researcher will need to mediate the focus group

A follow-up interview is a good practice.Examining RecordsArchival documentsData-mining: e.g., catalog use, use of services, via Millenium Can also be quantified Analyzing qualitative dataCoding: with transcripts of interviews, you may want to code particular words or phrases (with a number, for example) to determine whether a pattern emerges

Grounding results in the current literature

Triangulation and cross-checking: using multiple methods , data collection strategies, and sources to get a clear picture of what is being studied.

Quantitative RQTo what extent did the distance education group perform better on the post-test than the face-to-face instruction group?

The question calls for a number as an answer.Experimental researchMost rigorousTreatment/control groupManipulation of an independent variableRandom AssignmentRemoval of the influence of any other variable (can do this with some stats tests)All factors, except for the independent variable, should be the sameUse of pre-post test (often, but not always)

Ex. Do students who receive instruction via social media perform better on a digital literacy test than students who do not?Quantitative methods: SurveysWhen selecting an instrument search the literature first for one you can use or adaptCheck the reliability and validityAdministration in paper/person gives you a higher return. Online distribution is easier, but there is a lower rate of return (usually 10%) and responses tend to be biased.Some survey types: tests of information literacy, service satisfaction and use, user-perceptionsQuestion phrasing is important to validity!Sampling: convenience, random, snowball

Quantitative methods: BibliometricsCitation analysis: An examination of patterns or frequency of citations, authors, topics, methods etc. May be used to link scholarly works to other authorsMay be used to indicate the impact of a journal

Meta-AnalysisNot many opportunities in librarianshipStatistical compilation of the results of many studies on one topic. The results are generally the effect of an intervention.

Systematic Review/Meta-SynthesisThis is a systematic literature reviewOften some systematic evaluation of existing studies is a part of the review Appealing to librarians because it draws on their data miningA common method in the health sciences an among health sciences librariansResearch Design basics: Data AnalysisNominal: number stands in for a word, e.g., 1=female, 2=male

Ordinal: order 1st, 2nd, 3rd

Continuous: numbers from 0-?

Inferential StatisticsAllows the researcher to generalize to a population

SPSS, SAS, or Excel allows a researcher to perform inferential statistics.

Inferential Statistic TestsChi-Square: Nominal Data, tests a hypothesisANOVA/T-test: compares groups on an independent variableRegression: Determines the weight of a predictor variable. Also determines which of several variables predicts an outcomeMixed MethodsYou can combine quant with qual to get a better picture of your inquiry. For example, you can interview a selection of participants from those you have surveyed to determine why they answered in a particular manner.MethodsOnce you select a method, be sure to read further on best practices.

Other methods:Case studyEthnographyCausal/ComparativeInstitutional Review BoardIf you are going to be interacting with human beings in some way, you generally need to send a proposal to the IRB.These humans include: students/faculty/staff at your institution, people at another institution (and you will need to work with the IRB at the institution as well), or anyone you plan to interact with via the telephone, survey, or test, for example.

IRBYou should be familiar with the Belmont report and basic Human Research principles.A tutorial, quiz and certificate are available here:http://phrp.nihtraining.com/users/login.php

ResourcesConnaway, L. S. (2010). Basic research methods for librarians (5th ed.). Santa Barbara, Calif: Libraries Unlimited.Academic library research: perspectives and current trends. (2008). Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries.SPSS for Psychologists

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