Component 1: Statement of Competency
When we think about research we think of the study of materials, articles, data, charts, images, survey responses etc. to help establish a conclusion of a previous unknown fact or to solve some sort of problem. Research is systematic, meaning there is a method of conducting research with an organized plan. This basics of this plan is to start with the development of a question or a problem followed by conducting primary research and secondary research of quantitative and/or qualitative data and analysis of this data. Research methodology in libraries takes this systematic approach.
Once the problem or topic has been settled upon by the researcher the next step is to decide the type method the research (primary and/or secondary) will take. Of course, research rarely uses just one method but rather a combination; common research methods are basic research, applied research, evaluative research, quantitative research and qualitative research.
I want to first discuss the difference between primary and secondary research. Primary research is where the researcher collects original primary data through surveys, experiments, focus groups, etc. instead of using data sets already developed. Secondary research is the synthesis of existing research rather than primary research. Secondary research is conducted by gathering material on the topic at hand through databases and literature. Secondary research can also involve surveys and experiments but this data was not collected directly by the researcher. It is important to understand that primary and secondary research is the process in which the information is gathered for basic or applied research methods.
Now I want to discuss the different research methods that one can approach a problem or topic of interest with. Basic research often aims to answer questions based on curiosity and for the sake of gaining more knowledge; “Basic research is used to explore the fundamental bases of behavior, without regard to how those bases are manifested in the real world. Basic research aims to explain, predict, and describe” (Price & Oswald, 2006). Basic research tends to follow the scientific method approach of research.
Applied research, unlike basic research, is more concerned with solving real world problems and practical applications. This form of research is very common in libraries today as programs and services are evaluated, collections are maintained and funding is obtained. Applied research can take the form of evaluative research where surveys are conducted and data is gathered for evaluation, “it is increasingly common and important for librarians and other information professionals to assess the quality and effectiveness of their organization’s resources and services” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2007, p170).
Each of these forms of research, basic and applied, takes on a quantitative and/or qualitative approach to gathering information. A quantitative approach will deal primarily with numerical data or data that can be quantified. If a quantitative approach is taken specifically in a library setting, the researcher will work heavily with departments that gather statistical data such as access services and collection maintenance. This approach is well suited for creating generalized results. A qualitative approach focuses on observation of actual events, such as behaviors of users in their environment, engagement in activities and less on numbers. This approach aims to understand the how rather than the what.
Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:
My first piece of evidence I have included to show my understanding and master of this competency is a [Data Analysis] I did for Libr285. I selected this work because research is about gathering information, whether through primary or secondary research and analyzing this information. In this assignment I selected a data set that was published by The U.S. Department of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, Academic Libraries Survey. I chose this piece of evidence to show my understanding of analyzing quantitative research and developing conclusions based on the findings.
My second piece of evidence is a literature review I wrote on [Environtmental Scanning] for a strategic plan for Libr204. I chose this piece of evidence to show my understanding of conducting research and analyzing secondary resources in a basic research method. The literature review includes a summary of what current literature says on environmental scanning and includes information on the goals, principles, considerations and barriers of an environmental scan.
My final piece of evidence I have chosen to include is an [Annotated bibliography] I put together for an assignment in Libr204. I selected this work to show my ability to conduct professional research, gathering a list of resources for a specific topic. I chose to include an annotated bibliography because it shows my ability to evaluate sources and summarize their pertinence to the topic at hand.
Research is vital to the growth of our profession; without primary research we would not be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of our programs and services. Studying what our colleagues have learned, experience and published helps us grow and expand our knowledge of current professional topics; “We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills” (ALA, 2008). Secondary research would not exist if we do not participate and conduct primary research. It is important to understand the methodology of the research we conduct allowing us to improve to the development of ourselves, colleagues and the library as a whole.
American Library Association, (2008). Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics.cfm
Haycock, K. and Sheldon, B. (2008). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.
Price, Dr. & Oswald, Dr. (2006) Basic vs Applied Research. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved from: http://psych.csufresno.edu/psy144/Content/Design/Types/appliedvsbasic.html