|Abstract:||In 1977 Dervin admonished the library and information science (LIS)
professionals to stop measuring library activities and start looking at the
people who use the library to determine how they use it, how they find
information, and how the information helps them. I suggest that this article
was a “wake-up” call, challenging our field to adopt new research methods
that would allow us to learn more about our clients than about, for example,
the number of items circulated. LIS researchers have responded to this call.
Powell (1999) and McKechnie and colleagues (2002) have documented the
increasing use of research methods adopted from other disciplines. Over
the years, Library Trends has devoted several issues to research methods.
This issue joins the earlier ones and provides information on a variety of
traditional and “not so traditional” research methods.
Before describing briefly each contribution, it is important to define
“research methods” because as Williamson, Burstein, and McKemmish
(2000) pointed out, research methods and data collection techniques are
sometimes difficult to distinguish. For example, observation can be both
a method and a data collection technique. These authors state “a research
method provides a design for undertaking research, which is underpinned
by theoretical explanation of its value and use” (p. 11). Data collection
techniques are part of the method.
For this volume of Library Trends, each author was invited to describe a
particular research method and include examples of its use in LIS studies.
Articles in this issue are arranged alphabetically by research method and
include case study, content analysis, critical incident, discourse analysis, ethnography,
evaluation research, life history, longitudinal design, meta-analysis,
observation, observation of babies and toddlers, and systematic reviews.