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Paradigms, Theories, Causation and Scientific Research

Paradigm (pronounced: para-dime) Dictionary Definition:


A pattern, example, or model. Sometimes considered to be a sharp break, or new pattern, in thinking about a scientific problem.

Theories and Scientific Research It is impossible to do research without a theory!


All research begins with some type of theory, even if that theory is very crude.

Theories and Scientific Research (cont)


A theory identifies the things that affect the problem of interest to you. These things are the factors that you think cause, or affect, the problem or situation. The scientific name for these things is variables.

Theories and Scientific Research (cont)


Science consists of the things we know about the world. This knowledge, however, is always conditional, subject to change based on later and better information. And, this knowledge consists of conditional statements about the relationships between variables.

Theory: Some definitions


General Definition:
Concepts that are useful to scientists. More specific definition: A set of explanations, stated in abstract form, about complex phenomena, that are considered to be a part of science. Essentially: theories explain

Forms of Theory
1. Set of Laws: a set of statements with overwhelming empirical support. 2. Axiomatic: A set of statements divided into axioms, or propositions 3. Causal process: set of statements organized between two or more concepts is made explicit.

Theories are not:


1. Everything except doing or practicing 2. Vague generalizations about things 3. Prescriptions about how things ought to be 4. A compilation of facts

Theories ought to be:


1. Abstract 2. Have shared agreement among terms (intersubjectivity) 3. Logically rigorous 4. Empirically relevant

Where do theories come from?


From youand other scientists!!!
1. Inductive approaches to theory:
Reasoning from the particular to the general; from specific observations to general explanation. 2. Deductive approaches to theory: Reasoning from general logical propositions to testing them against specific observations.

What good are theories?


Theories explain! Theories tell you what the important concepts are that need measuring. Theories generate testable hypotheses. Theories are revised as a result of testing. Theories are the core body of knowledge in science.

Major Research Trends in Library and Info. Science Before 1950:


1876 Report on libraries and other descriptive reports Melville Dewey: pragmatist Williamson report on library education: 1920 Paul Otlet and documentation Univ. of Chicago GLS (1930s) Douglas Waples studies on reading

LIS Research Before 1950: Major Studies (cont)


Information retrieval machines development: 1930s-1950
microfilm and ADI Memex (Vannevar Bush) punched cards: chemical information; Calvin Mooers; etc. explosion of technical information early beginnings for electronic computers

LIS Research before 1950: (cont)


Classification studies
Dewey UDC (Universal Decimal Classification Ranganathan (colon classification; faceted classification) Bliss (faceted classification) Why classification research: information retrieval effectiveness (more later)

LIS Research After 1950: 1


The Public Library Inquiry (1949-1950)
Funded by Carnegie Foundation, coordinated by ALA and research work done by social scientists (Social Science Research Council)

Major Questions addressed:


who uses the public library and why

LIS Research after 1950: 2


Major Findings of the Public Library Inquiry:
less than 25% use the public library primarily used by while, middle class citizens presence of a child in the family makes a big difference in use of the public library very useful information about local use can be obtained by survey research

LIS Research after 1950: 3


Use and users studies of libraries: heirs of the PLI
a rich descriptive literature on use and users of libraries (academic, public, etc) 1967 replication of the PLI led to the establishment of NCLIS satisfaction measures can be obtained need to broaden outreach is revealed

LIS Research after 1950:4


Catalog use and users studies needed
1948 ALA catalog use study
Users do not use the catalog and when they do they cannot find what they want

LIS research after 1950: 5


Library Performance/Evaluation Studies
Critical need but seldom done Basic purposes vary but essentially you want to know how parts of the library system perform as well as the entire system Methodologies vary from survey to experimental

Later catalog use studies


Generally descriptive but useful findings about structure of the catalog, ease of use, problems with subject headings, etc. have led to improved catalogs, whether in cards, microforms, or online

LIS Research after 1950:6


Library Performance Studies: Basic types:
1. Reference performance studies
how good is the reference service and is the performance related to any characteristics (size of collection, professional staff, etc.) of the library?

LIS Research after 1950: 7


Library Performance studies: basic types 3. Library output studies
What are the outputs (products) of the library and are they being effectively managed?

2. Document delivery studies


How well can you actually deliver the documents (books, etc.) to a user that your objectives say you will deliver

4. Library impact studies


What are the impacts (effects) of the library on the community?

LIS Research after 1950:8


Censorship (Intellectual Freedom)
This is a continuing issue and particularly hot right now with access to the Internet in libraries becoming so controversial. Lots of studies but very few have been empirically based Some studies have show that librarians are often the worst censors of materials in libraries

LIS Research after 1950: 9


Historical Studies
Very large body of literature; used to be one of the predominant methods used in dissertations Largely idiographic rather than nomothetic Major problem is failure to include larger social conditions as they affect the library Major authors: Shera, Ditzion, Harris, et. Al.

LIS research after 1950: 10


Collection Development
Lots of different methodologies used: descriptive, survey, historical, experimental Major questions studied:
Growth of the collection (rate, subject coverage, size, comparison with other libraries, etc.) Use and Impact of the collection Cost, storage, format, etc.

LIS after 1950: 11


Information Retrieval Studies
Wide variety of study approaches used. Basic questions studied:
How effective are various indexing languages for retrieval? How does a user evaluate search results (relevance)? Why are recall and precision inversely related? How do various aspects of the retrieval system affect performance?

IS or LS?: Research Traditions Overlap


What is Library Science? What is Information Science? Is there a difference? Does LIS make sense to you? Why or why not? LS and IS research traditions overlap

IS Research traditions after 1950:


Definition of IS:
Study of information as a process, of its nature and of the tools and techniques by which information can be organized and used. Lots of folks call themselves information scientists: librarians, linguists, engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, etc. Are you an Information Scientist?

IS after 1950: 2
Major Trends:
1. Machine literature searching studies
Basic purposes: to determine how effectively various types of machines (microform, punched cards, optical coincidence, computers, etc.) performed in searching literature of various types

IS after 1950: 3
2. Index language performance
Basic purposes (note similarity to LS):
Determine the performance of various indexing languages (such as classification systems, free language, thesauri, KWIC, KWOC, professional indexing, etc.) and compare them to each other. Definite trend early on and still very important today with studies of Web search engines

IS research after 1950: 4


Citation analysis
Basic purpose: to determine why authors cite each other, its usefulness as a retrieval method, and how it relates to the growth of science. Major name: Garfield (and SCI, SSCI, HCI)

IS Research after 1950: 5


Bibliometrics
Measuring books! Actually, measuring the creation and flow of information as it appears in published form. Major names: Bradford (British Librarian); Lotka

IS after 1950: 6
Web search engine performance:
Methods vary but most are based on methods similar to those in indexing and retrieval performance:
1. Comparisons of search engines 2. Comparisons of retrieval results (count) 3. Occasionally, some attention to recall and precision Expect a lot more work in this area in the future

IS Research: Recent trends


1. Web search engine performance 2. Best retrieval language for the Web 3. TREC (Text Retrieval Conference) 4. Voice recognition 5. Automatic language translation 6. Knowledge management