Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Key Concepts Blog: Data Analysis Techniques Readings

Connway and Powell (2007)

Chapter 9 Analysis of Data

There are three steps in data analysis:

Step 1  Establish set of categories or values
  • Categories should be exhaustive and mutually exclusive.
  • Example -  Reference questions – directional or non-directional, reference collection size – number of volumes
Step 2  Coding data
  • Coding data is converting responses to numerical codes (if it is not already in numerical form).  It may involve regrouping.
  • Inaccuracy may occur due to poorly worded questionnaire or during assigning to wrong category.

Step 3 Analyzing data
We may use:
  • Descriptive statistics – i.e. frequency distributions, graphs, charts, measures of central tendency (mean, median, mode) or measures of dispersion or variability (mean deviation, standard deviation), correlation coefficiencies (cross-variation or bivariate frequency)
  • Inferential statistics – parametric or non-parametric

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 29 Content Analysis (Quantitative)

Quantitative Content Analysis is the systematic, objective quantitative analysis of message characteristics.  Message travels from source to destination, and may be recorded on paper, digital, analog, audio, video etc… format.

Types of content to be analyzed:
  • Manifest Content – exists unambiguously in a message.  It is countable and easy to observe.  Eg. Occurrence of a word.
  • Latent content – conceptual content.  It cannot be directly observed.  It is difficult (or impossible to count).  It is usually measured with manifest content indicators.
Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 30 Qualitative Content Analysis

Qualitative content analysis is analyzing speeches/texts in their specific contexts.  It goes beyond counting words or extracting objective content.  It allows the researcher to understand social reality in a subjective but scientific manner.  It uses inductive reasoning process, unlike the quantitative content analysis. (Quantitative content analysis is criticized for missing semantic information.)

Steps in Qualitative Content Analysis:
  • Prepare the data (eg. All questions or the main questions, literally or in summary)
  • Define the unit of analysis (usually individual themes are used as unit of analysis rather than physical units like words.)
  • Categories and coding scheme (it allows assigning a unit of text to more than one category.  It doesn’t require mutually exclusive categories.)
  • Test your coding scheme on a sample text
  • Code all the text (coding proceeds while ne themes and concepts emerge which may be added to coding manual)
  • Assess coding consistency
  • Draw conclusions from data
  • Report methods and findings

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 31 Discourse Analysis

Analysis of discourse/communication (discourse is all kinds of spoken interaction, formal and informal, written text. (Eg. Reference interview, professional literature.)  It looks for agreed upon themes as well as differences (within a single text or across texts).  The underlying assumption is people use speech/text to construct versions of their social world.  Different people may have different interpretations and one person may have multiple perspectives.  Its weakness is subjectivity in every step.

Suggested steps:
  • Research question
  • Select sample discourse
  • Collect records and documents
  • Coding the data
    • Identifying themes within categories that emerge and take shape as you examine texts.
    • Develop category scheme – texts may be categorized in more than one category.
  • Analyze data – this involves close reading and reading of texts, search for Patterns, similarities, contradictions, vagueness, consider and reconsider patterns, search for evidence for and against your hypotheses and makes notes.
  • Validate your findings

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 32 Analytic induction

Analytic induction is a form of inductive reasoning.  It is used to analyze data from various case studies, ethnographic observations, participant observations, semi-structured interviews and structured interviews. 

Steps in analytic induction
  • Rough definition of the phenomenon
  • Develop hypothetical explanation
  • Continue by choosing cases and study the cases and see if they are in line with the hypotheses
  • When a negative case occurs, redefine the hypothesis to exclude the negative case or reformulate the hypothesis.
  • Continue to study more cases.
  • Consider known negative cases as well
  • Selecting likely negative cases is requirement and account for negative

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 33 Descriptive Statistics

The role of descriptive statistics is to summarize your results.

Variables and levels of measurement
  • Nominal variables (categorical) -  They have no true numerical value and no calculations can be done on them.
  • Ordinal variables – rank ordered variables. Eg. Level of education
  • Interval variables – this are also ordered, but have uniform distance between possible values.  We can perform some basic calculations on them.
  • Ratio level intervals - these are also ordered equal intervals.  They have true zero point.  Ratios can be calculated on these.
Measures of central tendency
The purpose is to find one value that best describes the values – eg. Mean, median, mode.
  • For nominal data, we can only use mode.  
  • Mean is most stable and it can be applied for more calculations.  But it may be skewed if there are some outliers (high values or low values).
  • Mode is an actual value from the data.  It is not affected by outliers.
Measures of dispersion
Shows how far scores spread out around the central point.
Eg. Range, interquartile range (range of the middle 50%), variance, standard deviation, confidence intervals.

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 34 Frequencies, Cross-tabulation and the Chi-Square Statistic
Cross-tabulation tables (contingency table/bivariate table) – shows categories of one variable shown as rows and the categories of the second variable shown as columns.  It reports the number of cases that belong in that cell (cases that fit in that particular category of each of the two variables.)

Pie charts are used to understand how a particular variable is distributed/to show proportions.
Don’t use pie charts:
  • When respondents may have selected more than 1 choice
  • When there are too many variables (don't use for more than 6 variables.)

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 35 Sequential event analysis

Markov model approach
It examines sequences step by step.  It breaks up each step to examine their sequence.  It assumes that the conditional probability of the occurrence of a certain event depends only on the event immediate proceeding it.  Types of Markov model:
  • Zero-order model – shows only frequency of occurrence of each event.
  • 1st order Markov model (state transition matrix) – shows probability of corresponding row sate to the column state in percentage.
  • 2nd order Markov model – considers 2 steps.

Optimal matching approach - compares similarities and dissimilarities of two complete sequences.

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 36 Correlation

Correlation is used to examine the relationship between two variables.  It measures proportion of the variability in one variable that is explained by the variability in the other variable.  Scatter diagram may be used.

Types of Correlation
  • When perfectly correlated, all the variability in one variable is explained by variability in the other.  But when there is no correlation, none of the variability in one is explained by the other.
  • Positive correlation shows that when one variable increases the other increases as well.  But Negative correlation means when one variable increases, the other decreases.

Widemuth (2009)
Chapter 37 Comparing means
T-tests are used to compare results from two groups (two samples).  It compares mean scores from the two groups.  The t-score shows the difference between the mean of the two samples.  The p-score shows the probability that the result was due to chance.

Analysis of variance (ANOVA) – compares means like t-tests, but in more than two groups.  Variance between groups is treated as “signal” and the variance within each group as “noise”. When there is a lot of signal, but not much noise, it means that there is a meaningful difference among the means.  But if there is low signal but high noise, there is not much difference.


Connaway, L. S. & Powell, R.R. (2007). Chapter 9. In Basic Research Methods or Librarians (5th ed.). California.
Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). Chapter 29-37. In Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science. Connecticut.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Key Concepts Blog: Data Collection Techniques Readings

Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 18 Transaction Logs

Transaction Log Analysis (TLA)
TLA is used to study user system interaction (like browse behaviors) and system-mediated interpersonal interaction (like reference and support chat services).  There are server side and client side TLA.  Server side TLA is cheaper and unobtrusive, but has ethical concern.  Client side TLA is expensive and needs contact with participants.

Advantages and Disadvantages of TLA
Advantages are Accurate because data is captured as they occur, draws on large volume of data, and it is appropriate for both experimental and field study Types.
Disadvantages are it does not record context of users like motives, difficulty to distinguish between individual users and very large amount of data.

Wildemuth (2009) 
Chapter 19 Think-Aloud Protocols

Think-aloud Protocols
Subjects speak aloud what they are thinking while performing tasks during an experiment.  It is used to understand subject’s cognitive processes.  It is used in LIS to study search tactics, processes and strategies.  Some kinds of think-aloud protocols are concurrent versus retrospective and individual versus collaborative.

Advantages and Disadvantages
·       Relatively easy to collect data.
·       Makes it possible to investigate reactions, feelings and problems of subjects – difficult to do this with other methods.
·       Shows sequential steps of subject’s cognitive process over a period of time rather than obtaining a general description at the end of the process (detailed data)
·       Slower task performance speed during experiment because they have to speak.
·       May influence the thinking process on the task (may disrupt or improve task).

Wildemuth (2009) 
Chapter 20  Direct Observation

Direct observation is watching actions or behaviors of participants in a particular setting and making field notes and/or times, counting or rating behaviors or events.  There are two types – participant and nonparticipant observation.  May be combined other methods like interview.

Advantages and Disadvantages
Advantages - Better accuracy than asking questions
·       Problem of observing behaviors that occur infrequently and at unpredictable times.
·       Obtrusive (people may change their behavior when observed)
·       Ethical issues – privacy and confidentiality of participants.
·       Gaining access to the setting
·       Gaining consent of individuals to be observed
·       Plan a sample (eg. Particular time intervals.)
·       Decide which people to observe.
·       Collect data using observation schedule or checklist.
·       Sometimes, video and audio recordings are used (may be more obtrusive)
·       Pre-analysis of data
·       Analysis of data – qualitative or interpretive approaches may be used.
·       Leaving the field.

Wildemuth (2009) 
Chapter 21 Participant observation

What is Participant Observation
·       Observer is participant in the setting
·       Such participation leads to better understanding of topic of study
·       This understanding can lead to better theories about social processes.
Usually uses interpretive research paradigm – reality is socially constructed.  Usually researcher needs permission from gatekeepers of the culture to be in the setting.

Types of Participant Observation
Passive participation (being physically present in the setting)
Complete participation (full membership or active participant - true member of the culture)

Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 22 Research Diaries

Research Diaries
Research diaries are usually solicited diaries.  Types - unstructured, semi structured, or structured (eg. logs).  The advantages of Research diaries are they captures ordinary events that might be neglected by other methods and information recorded at or close to the time of the event.  However, they impose significant burden on participants and researcher. 

  • ·       Amount of structured on diary entries
  • ·       Record making triggers.
  • ·       How long should the diary be kept?
  • ·       Frequencies and intervals (between an event and recording)
  • ·       Technologies for capturing diaries (eg. Audio visual, web-based)
  • ·       Using with interview method.
Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 23 Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured Interviews
Also called informal conversational interview, in-depth interview or non-standardized interview or ethnographic interview.  Question and answer categories are not predetermined.  It is usually part of participant observation.  Ideally, the researcher follows the respondent’s narration and generates questions based on his/her reflection of the narration.  Aide-memoire may be used – agenda/broad guide to topics/issues that might be covered – open ended and flexible.

How to conduct unstructured interview:
  • ·       Accessing the setting.
  • ·       Understanding the language and culture of the interviewees.
  • ·       Presenting oneself (researcher is learner in the conversation trying to understand the interviewee’s experiences from the interviewee’s point of view).
  • ·       Gaining trust
  • ·       Capturing the data – note taking, audio recording, memory techniques
Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 24 Semistructured Interviews

Semistructured Interviews
·       Has predetermined questions (interview guide)
·       The order of questions can be modified, wording can be changed, a question might be omitted or added as necessary.
In contrast, structured interview is like survey except it is conducted personally.

Interview guide for semi-structured interview
It may have four types of questions - essential questions, extra questions, throw-away questions and probing questions (asking elaborations to elicit more information).
Questions to avoid are affectively worded questions, double-barreled questions (two issues in one question) and complex questions (instead use brief, concise and to-the-point  questions).

Wildemuth (2009) 
Chapter 25 Focus Group

Focus Group interview is a group of individuals selected and assembled by researchers to discuss and comment on the research topic based on their personal experience.  Members are encouraged to talk to each other as well as the researcher and data collected includes their discussion with each other as well.  Researcher should pay attention to the consensus as well as opposing views.

  • ·       Decide the objectives of the research and issues of discussion in advance.
  • ·       Select moderator – keeps the discussion on track.
  • ·       Identifying and recruiting appropriate participants – decide the characteristics of the people you want to participate in advance.
  • ·       During the session – select a site that is quite, comfortable, private enough and has minimum interruptions.
  • ·       Let participants to get comfortable with other before the session starts.
  • ·       Understanding your results – since this will be qualitative data, it needs transcriptions/detailed notes and coding data based on themes.
Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 26 Survey Research
Survey Research is a popular method, but needs extensive planning.  You have to carefully consider your objectives when choosing participants, design and administer survey and data analysis methods.

  • ·       Design the survey instruments – prepare set of questions. 
o   The questions have influence on the number of responses and validity of responses..
o   May be closed ended questions or open ended questions (for exploratory research)
o   Organize questions appropriately.
o   Consider physical appearance.
  • ·       Pretesting (by experts) and pilot testing (by a small subset of the sample)
  • ·       Administering the survey – by mail, e-mail, website, online chat, phone …
  • ·       To increase response rate
o   Contact individuals multiple times, thank you notes and reminders and collaborating with organizations, incentives for participating.
  • ·       Analyzing responses.
o   For descriptive and comparative purposes.
o   Open ended questions needs categorizing responses.

Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 27 Measuring Cognitive and Affective Variables

Measuring cognitive and affective variables
These are variables like attitudes, beliefs, feelings, interests etc.  These variables need to be operationalized.

  • ·       Identifying appropriate inventory (standards of measurement) from previous researches – checking from other researches how they measured that variable.
  • ·       Assessing reliability and validity of an inventory.  It has to be consistent
Wildemuth (2009)
Chapter 28 Developing new measures

Cognitive and affective variables cannot be directly observed.  The objective is to quantify the amount or level of such variables
Likert Scales and other similar scales use a five point scale like from strongly agree to strongly disagree.
4-point scale – does not allow a neutral response.
We have to be careful not to use ambiguous wording.

Connway and Powell (2007)
 Chapter 5

Advantages and disadvantages of Questionnaire
  • ·       Encourages frank answers
  • ·       Eliminates interviewer bias due to verbal presentation of questions.
  • ·       Eliminates variation in the questioning process.
  • ·       Can be completed at the convenience of respondents (esp. mail questionnaire) which gives time to respondents and thus more accurate answers.
  • ·       Suited for quantitative data collection.
  • ·       Enables to collect large amount of data in a short time.
  • ·       Relatively inexpensive.
  • ·       Persons who are highly motivated about the topic are likely to return.
  • ·       Difficult for uneducated people, which results in a biased return.
  • ·       High non-response rates.
  • ·       Electronic questionnaire can reach only those who have access to the technology.
Observational study is done by watching attentively in a systematic manner.  Data is collected not by asking but by observing.  Observation can be considered as research method or data collection method to be used in another research method.  As data collection technique, it may be us
Connaway, L. S. & Powell, R.R. (2007). Chapter 5. In Basic Research Methods or Librarians (5th ed.). California.
Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). Chapter 18-28. In Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science. Connecticut.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Article Review #2

Meskerem Goshime
October 5, 2011
Article Review 2

 Clark, C. and Hawkins, L. (2011). Public Libraries and Literacy. Retrieved October 4, 2011, from           

This paper reported the results of one part of a large survey regarding young people’s reading and writing.  This report particularly addressed the part of the survey regarding public library use of young people.
The research followed quantitative approach.  It is analytical descriptive survey that showed correlations between several variables.  Even though it cannot prove its existence, it suggests the possibility of casual relationships.
This research is of interest to me because I also plan to use the same methodology to address my research problem, although I also plan to incorporate some exploratory and qualitative methods.  Moreover, the topic of reading among children, which is addressed in this research, is related to my topic of interest.
Problem Statement
The research questions addressed by this report were young people’s use of public libraries with age and background demographics, factors influencing why they use or do not use public libraries with age and background demographics, the link between public library use and their reading behavior, and the link between public library use and their school attainment.
Literature Review
This report did not include literature review on the subject.  However, it certainly is a huge contribution of knowledge on the topic of young people’s reading behavior as it used a very large sample size and assessed a large number of variables.
The sample of this study was 17,089 students aged 8 to 16 from 112 schools in Britain.  The research also considered socio economic background, ethnic background and gender when collecting and analyzing the data.  There was an almost equal gender split in the sample, although there was difference in the number of participants with age group and ethnic background in the sample.
The research used online survey consisting of 32 questions regarding young people’s background, reading and writing behavior, perceived ability and attitudes.  This report especially addressed the questions regarding public library use
It is not clear to me from the report how the schools were chosen.  However, it seems that the research involved all students in those schools.  The difference in number of participants with ethnic background seems to reflect the proportion in the population.  However, it is not clear to me why there was a large difference in the number of participants by age group, with majority of participants between ages 11 and 12.  One can imagine that if the sample had an even percentage of participants from all age groups, the total percentage of students who use public libraries might be different.  This especially has significance because the research reported that “public library use declined drastically and significantly with age” and “47.8% of young people surveyed said they do not use the public library at all (Clark, 2011, p. 8).”
Apart from the finding regarding total percentage of children using public libraries, all the other findings in the research appears to be very reliable and I think this research has a huge contribution to knowledge on the topic.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Key Concepts Blog: Methods/Ethics/ Theory Readings

Connaway and Powell (2007)
Chapter 3 Selecting the Research Method

Action Research – is a type of applied research.  It has direct application to immediate workplace.  It is usually done by external researcher who works with organizational members to solve a problem.  Applied research may have broader purpose to contribute to the profession.  But action research is for direct application.

Historical Research – is reconstructing the past systematically and objectively by collecting, evaluating, verifying and synthesizing evidence.  It is usually done in relation to hypothesis concerning causes, effects and trends of past events.

Connaway and Powell (2007) 
Chapter 4 Survey Research and Sampling

Survey research is studying a small number selected from a large group and make inferences about the large group.  It is used to gather contemporary data (unlike historical), to study large number of cases and for exploratory analysis of relationships.  It does not manipulate the independent variable like experimental research.

Purposes of descriptive survey:
-        Describes the characteristics of the population.
-        Estimates proportions in the population.
-        Make specific predictions.
-        Test associational relationships.
Descriptive survey cannot test casual relationship.  However it can show correlation between variables.

Wildemuth (2009) 
Chapter 6 Questions Related to Theory

Theory according to Mintzberg (2005)
-        It is not true.  Instead, it is simplification of complicated realities.
-        Theory development is neither objective nor deductive.
-        Developing theory is inductive, but testing theory is deductive.

Theory according to Kuhn (1996)
-        Theories are essentially, if not actually, true.
-        They describe a phenomenon well.
-        A theory works only until a “critical mass of anomalies and exceptions to it are found” – then it has to be replaced.


Connaway, L. S. & Powell, R.R. (2007). Chapter 3 & 4. In Basic Research Methods or Librarians (5th ed.). California.
Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). Chapter 6. In Applications of Social Research Methods to Questions in Information and Library Science. Connecticut.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Key Concepts Blog: Literature Review Readings

University of Toronto
Definition of Literature Review
Literature review is an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers.
Writing the Literature Review
The literature review should be organized into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory.  It should not be a listing of summary of literature one after the other.  Include overall introduction and conclusion stating scope and formulating question, problem or concept.  Organize materials into sections.  Include critical assessment of the materials.

University of California, Santa Cruz
Literature Review
Literature Review has 4 stages like a primary research
  • Problem formulation – field, topic and component issues
  • Literature search – finding relevant materials
  • Data evaluation – evaluating the materials
  • Analysis and interpretation – discussing findings and conclusions of the literature
Considerations during literature review
  • Provenance – credibility of author and the research
  • Objectivity
  • Persuasiveness
  • Value/significance
Widener University
Important aspects of Literature Review
  • How do studies fit together - similar findings and contradictory findings
  • Important variables, concepts, ideas and issues across all the literature examined
  • Connections between these concepts
  • Summarizing comments regarding general patterns in the literature
Some Typical ways of organizing a literature review
  • Thematic organization
  • Arguments in the field
  • Conceptual analysis
  • Critical review of methodology


 D'Onofiro, A. (2001). Reviews of Literatre for ed 510. Retrieved September 20, 2011, from Widener University:

Taylor, D. (n.d.). The Literature Review. Retrieved September 20, 2011, from University of Toronto:

University of California Santa Cruz, University Library. (n.d.). Write a LIterature Review. Retrieved Septemer 20, 2011, from University of California Santa Cruz, University LIbrary:

Article Review #1

Meskerem Goshime
September 20, 2011

Connaway, L. S., Dickey, Timothy J., & Radford, Marie L. (2011). "If it is too inconvenient I'm not going after it:" Convenience as a critical factor in information-seeking behaviors. Library & Information Science Research, 33, 179-190.

This article reports findings of a research project made in two phases.  The research explored “the emergence of the concept of convenience as a critical factor in information-seeking choices among a variety of different types of people, across a period of several years, and in a variety of contexts (Connaway et. al, 2011).”
This article may be relevant to my research proposal as I am currently considering the topic "information search behavior of high school and college students" with a focus on the process of searching and finding information resources for the purpose of school projects.  I am considering using firsthand accounts of students in the form of a diary of their information search process, while working on a school project, describing each of the sources they tried, their success or failure in finding the information they need, and their feelings and opinions along the process.
Research Question
The research questions of this study were “Why do people choose one information source instead of another?” and “What factors contribute to their selection of information sources?”
Population, Data Sources, Data Collection and Data Analysis
This is a non-experimental research which employed a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods to collect the data (data triangulation).  The population for the first part of this study was faculty, undergraduate and graduate students of 44 colleges and universities in Mid-Western U.S.  Methodologies used were investigation (exploratory study), online survey and telephone follow up interview of randomly selected subjects, exploratory focus group interviews and follow up semi-structured interviews with a subset of focus group participants in a natural setting.  The second part of the research, seeking synchronicity project, was conducted after a three year period (longitudinal study).  This part used online survey and telephone interviews of reference service users and non-users.  The population for this part of the study is not clear to me from the report.  However, judging from the findings presented, I would guess that it involved public library virtual reference service users.  (Age groups from age 12 and rural, urban and sub-urban categories are mentioned in the findings.)
            The results from all the methodologies used strongly showed that convenience is a factor for making choices in both academic and everyday-life information seeking.  It also concluded that this is especially prevalent among younger people, but also holds across all different categories used in the research.
Literature Review
Literature review of this article cited different previous researches in relation to users’ preference of information sources that are convenient and easy to use, particularly the internet.  As a theoretical base, the research cites the “rational choice theory” (developed in economics), which states that “even the most complex social behavior may be viewed in terms of discrete and elementary individual actions.  …each individual choice among actions is rationally directed towards their own values.”  (Connaway et. al, 2011)  Gratification theory, which suggests that at least for poorer subjects, information must be easily and timely accessible, is also cited.  Gratification theory states that poor people seek immediate gratification. 
The literature review did not explicitly point out a gap in the literature that it attempts to fill.  Its findings seem similar to previous researches.  However, the fact that this study was conducted on a large population, over a period of time, and using various methodologies makes it significant in understanding the topic.
Even though users were asked about their information use behavior in their academic and every-day life information needs, the report did not explain whether even sampling is made from people in academy and people not in academy, but the results seem to be generalized to all.
Even though a longitudinal research was made comparing results in a period of three years, I was not able to determine from the report if the same population is used for the second online survey.  It is explicitly mentioned that the population used in the first online survey is faculty, and undergraduate and graduate students.  However, the second online survey seems to be on public library reference service users, as I mentioned above.  If the population used is indeed different, it may not be valid to compare the two results.  However, on the other hand, the consistency of the results still suggests that the results are probably valid in varied population groups.