5. Research: Students will master the theory, knowledge, and skills necessary for entry-level performance of research responsibilities.
Working as an information specialist, as librarians do, is indicative of the mastery of research skills. It is the responsibility of the researcher to ensure that the search terms, databases used and information pulled is accurate and compiled in a timely manner. Throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies, I have placed particular importance on research and working to aid the professionals I've worked for with the most optimal points of data. I have always considered this aspect of academia to be fun, since finding the right information or historical document can feel like a puzzle needing to be solved. Using the correct terminology to begin preliminary searches requires the researcher to develop a base knowledge of the subject, which has allowed me to learn about topics and events that may have previously been ambiguous to me. This was the case when I was helping a professor look for newspaper articles preserved in microfilm about the renowned African-American attendees of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1943. This search not only produced the sought-after information, but I was immediately immersed in 1940's culture by reading through the Chicago Tribune and other news sources.
5.1. Students will describe the difference between research literature and professional literature.
Both research literature and professional literature can be informative on a single subject in the eyes of a researcher, and their individual value cannot be overlooked. Research literature, traditionally, includes an introduction to the topic, methodology, data and a results section. These works offer the newest data on the point of study, letting a researcher not only gain a new perspective but also gives them the ability to trace the results of similar studies through time - making the advancements in that area very clear. When this information is combined with the professional discourse offered by professional literature, an all-inclusive portrait of a particular subject is observed. Professional literature is composed by a field expert and can include a discussion on an issue, review of career-long observations of the field, policies and so forth. Such documents often do not include empirical research and data.
5.2. Students will describe applications of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in library and information science.
Qualitative research seeks to illuminate certain problems, cases or topics through the study of non-representative groups. This work is not focused on statistical data, as quantitative research is. Qualitative research projects gather information through techniques like interviews or group meetings, which allow the researcher to observe and gather information on the subject in order to continue their investigation. Later on, these topics could be developed and supplemented by quantitative search, which would provide statistical evidence either disproving or proving a hypothesis through the study of large, representative samples. Ensuring that the sample groups are representative is integral to the study, as sweeping conclusions cannot be created from data that is not illustrative of the group that is being studied. In library and information science, each type of research is beneficial to garner insight into a topic. Many of the studies I have helped LIS professors with blended both types into a mixed methods research study, allowing the researchers to use their qualitative and quantitative data to support their theories.
5.3. Students will evaluate research literature on the critical factors of reliability, validity, scholarly authority, and relevance to issues in library and information science.
As both a researcher and educator, I find it imperative to work with research literature that is academically sound. It is a common phenomenon that people find information on the internet and look at a few factors, such as how nice the website looks or if the author declared themselves a leading Doctor, before accepting that information is factual. This is the way misinformation spreads, and academic research must strive to avoid falling into these traps and instead inform populations about the importance of validity, reliability, and the authority of the author. At minimum, these standards must be met prior to further analysis of the information. Researching the author, their professional network and reputation, which journals they are publishing in (and the validity of those journals), and comparing the information in these articles to others in the field are imperative to establishing reliability and validity in your own research, so these steps cannot be forgone. In library and information science, as with all other fields of study, ensuring that the data used is reliable is the foundation of research that is usable and helpful in furthering the data and discourse available on a subject.
5.4. Students will identify opportunities for research and develop plans for research in applied settings in library and information science.
I have, fortunately, been able to produce research as a part of my studies for the past four years. Starting in 2012, I was introduced to the methods of gathering, reviewing and presenting articles and data. Working with Dr. Fleckenstine and Dr. Moore offered me the opportunity to spend time researching various topics in literature and developing an understanding in areas that were outside my philosophy in literature and 18th + 19th century literature specialties. I became familiar with researching through microfilm, reaching out to professionals in the field and using various databases to compile credible sources. Similarly, my work as a graduate assistant at the USF Library and Information Sciences department has afforded me to develop my skills in citation review, copy-editing and literature review in order to ensure that each study is presenting information correctly and clearly through the employment of academically sound resources.