INF 397C - Introduction to Research in Information StudiesSchool of Information - The University of Texas at Austin
Spring, 2011

Course Description

This course explores the nature of social science research and its role in the field of Information Studies. Students learn about research in the field through critical evaluation of published research, experience in developing problem statements and research questions, and writing a complete research proposal. The course examines a range of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis techniques, including descriptive and inferential statistics.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, students should accomplish the following course objectives:

Required Texts

There is one required text for this course:

Babbie, E. (2009). The Practice of Social Research (12th Edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing. [ISBN: 0495598411] [On 3-day reserve in PCL: H 62 B2 2010]

Recommended and Supplementary Texts

The Babbie text is not specific to library and information science. If you can find them, you might find the following books useful for their library and information science orientation and examples:

Powell, R. R. and Connaway, L. S. (2004). Basic Research Methods for Librarians (4th edition). Greenwich, CT: Ablex Publishing Corporation. [ISBN: 1591581125]

Vaughn, L. (2001). Statistical Methods for the Information Professional: A Practically Painless Approach to Understanding, Using, and Interpreting Statistics. Medford, NJ: Published for the American Society for Information Science and Technology by Information Today. [ISBN: 1573871109]

You might also find helpful other texts commonly required or recommended for a course such as this, such as:

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (3rd edition). Los Angeles, CA: Sage. [ISBN: 9781412965576]

Katzer, J., Cook, K. H., & Crouch, W. W. (1998). Evaluating information: A guide for users of social science research (4th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Trochim, W. M. K. (2006). The Research Methods Knowledge Base (3rd Edition). Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog Publishing. [ISBN: 1592602916]

There are also required supplementary readings and relevant Web resources listed on the Resources page.

Course Expectations

Students are expected to attend all class sessions. You do not have to tell me if you must miss a class but be aware that the required assignments will be much easier to complete if you attend each class session. In addition, a significant part of your final course grade is based on class preparation and participation. The course will provide many opportunities for participation through discussion of required readings and in-class activities. To be fully engaged in this course and to get the most out of it, it is important that you keep up with the readings each week and come to class prepared to discuss your thoughts and ideas about the readings.

Assignments and Grading

There are three assignments in this course, designed to provide you with the opportunity to apply the concepts covered in class. Each assignment is worth a specific number of points, as noted in the assignment details. Your cumulative score on all assignments will help determine your final grade for the course, with each assignment weighted like so:

Assignment 1 - Critical analysis of published research 35%
Assignment 2 - Questionnaire design 15%
Assignment 3 - Research study proposal 35%

Thus, the three assignments total 85% of your final grade. The remaining 15% of your final grade is based on class preparation, participation, and other indicators of level of effort. Class preparation and participation is particularly important in this course.

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late assignments will only be accepted if the instructor grants permission, at least 24 hours before the due date, for the student to turn the assignment in late, on an agreed-upon date. Except in extreme circumstances, late assignments will be docked several points for each day they are late.

As will be discussed later in the semester, Assignment 3 is a small group assignment.

Disability Accommodations

Any student with a documented disability (physical or cognitive) who requires academic accommodations should contact the Services for Students with Disabilities area of the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259 (voice) or 471-4641 (TTY for users who are deaf or hard of hearing) as soon as possible to request an official letter outlining authorized accommodations.

Course Schedule

See the Schedule page for a detailed list of the topics that will be covered each week during the course, as well as any readings or assignments that should be done.

©Gary Geisler
Last revised February 18, 2011