Author Archives: jessstarr88

“(some participants are disturbing people)”

I don’t have too much to say on the readings for this week other than that I am pretty interested in research ethics –  especially in regards to interviewing.  One of the things that stood out to me in Knight’s chapter was when he said that researchers should not become too involved with the participants because they can be “disturbing people.” Obviously Knight is writing from the perspective of the researcher, so that is who he is sympathizing with, but that is still a bit of a funny (awkward) statement.  I did like the suggestion that the researcher might carry pamphlets or other resources for the participants if sensitive subjects such as illness or crime might be discussed – that seems like good advice, but perhaps not maintaining an appropriate distance from the subject. 

Another thing that I found interesting was that the U of T REB was primarily concerned with respect from human dignity in Research Involving Human Subjects. Of course respecting and maintaining the dignity of the participants is paramount, but it is also quite vague – I expected that it would go into more detail. I’m sure that these issues will be addressed in class so this is a bit of a ramble, but I look forward to learning more about this.


Post-empirical Party!

The Knight section on Post-empirical research has finally shed some light on something that I have been wondering about since our first class!  Coming from a literature background most of the research that I have done has been text-based.  In the past I have worked with the general arrangement that I should form my argument based on the literature that already existed, and then determine the shortcomings of these conclusions as well as expand on the main points that I found believable.  While I understand that this approach to research is not always effective, I do still believe that this sort of evaluation can be valuable.

In doing readings for my SSHRC application it became very clear that much has already been discussed on my subject (which is based around collection digitization and has been a hot topic for about a decade).  I did not think that it was adequate to simply examine the existing literature and draw conclusions about what is and isn’t working in the field of digitization, so I developed a methodology that would involve interviews and surveys.  While interviews with information professionals would certainly be beneficial to my research – after reading Knight’s thoughts on the matter I think that I will revise the survey section of my methods to include an area that looks more like a post-empirical study.  The amount of literature on the topic of digitization is vast, but like in Knight’s example of undergraduate learning (110), it has never been connected in a cohesive manner, and that would be an important contribution to academia.

I found that Allen S. Lee’s paper on “Reviewing a manuscript for publication” really interesting, and think that this might be especially helpful while writing our peer reviews.  The section on being explicit about your own area of expertise is obviously relevant as our own frame of reference skews our opinions, but it is not something that I generally would have considered including in an evaluation of an article.  I have kind of been rambling a little bit, but overall I found the readings from this week really helpful. I know that some of us in this group have been struggling with text-based research, and I’m glad that maybe now we can all have a bit of a post-empirical party and stop being so intimidated by all the more “scientific” methods!


Troubling Interviews

First off, I really like what Jordan had to say about “harvarding”. My lit background really influences the way I read things (which is usually too closely), and I have a hard time taking a step back just to skim aspects of the articles that I might find useful. DEFINITELY something that I need to work on! That being said I thought that the articles for this week were pretty helpful in terms of outlining different methods for gathering qualitative data, although I am not really sure how much I am going to be able to use these methods in my own research.

I can’t really believe that our SSHRC assignment is due in a week. I’ve been looking at different notes I’ve made, and some of the Luker assignments, as well as some of the “literature” I have read, and am struggling with putting it in a cohesive format. I have narrowed my topic down to focus on how various institutions (including U of T) have scrapped digitization efforts in the last few years because of how expensive, and time consuming the process is, and I would like to explore methods that might be more efficient/economical/realistic for digitizing rare collections especially at U of T. Or something. Will take some more time tweaking it over Thanksgiving I guess – but any thoughts/suggestions are appreciated!

Also, I found the Ellen Seiter article “Making Distinctions in TV Audience Research: Case Study of a Troubling Interview” kind of strange. I intended only to harvard it, but once I started I needed to see where it was going. I cannot really explain what about the article that unsettles me, but I feel like the way she presented the two men that she interviewed really perpetuates some of the biases she is meant to be lobbying against. I think that if any of you are planning on doing interviews (or I guess just suggesting that you would do them since we’re not actually doing the research) than this is a worthwhile read – if only to point out what to avoid.

See you guys tomorrow!

Research Interest vs. Research Question

Before I started the readings for this week I was confident that I had developed a research question that would serve my purposes for this course very well. My bubble was burst however when I realize that I still only have a research interest. I am grateful for the suggestions given by both Luker and Knight on how to narrow down my interest (though the idea of “consulting the literature” remains daunting), and found Luker’s oversimplified “quick tips” on “explanans” and “explanandum,” as well as the importance of the question mark (53) surprisingly useful. 

Like Brett my humanities background has usually required that I find my proof in-text, which is useful in that realm, but is obviously inadequate here. I would appreciate any/all advice that those of you who are well-versed in research methods might be able to add to Luker and Knight’s suggestions for narrowing my research interest further. Very generally my research interest is on how information professionals (librarians, archivists, etc) can ensure that rare and special materials (manuscripts, scrolls, rare texts) become available for the general public (likely in a digitized form), and are not simply replaced by modern summaries or descriptions of the original work? I don’t really know what form this will actually take, but it is something that seems important in a world of “info-glut”


Introduction :)

Hi team! My name is Jessica, and I am in my first year of LIS at the iSchool. I did my undergrad degree in English Lit at UBC where I specialized in Victorian Mystery, so information sciences are very new to me. To be honest I am still trying to figure out what I’d like to be doing once I’ve finished my MI. Right now I am thinking about rare books and special collections, but I expect it to change as I take more classes, and learn more about different career possibilities. Information Science already appears to be such a broader field than I imagined! I am a bit nervous about Research Methods as I have never taken a class like this before, and have very little experience researching anything (most English papers are primarily text-based), so it is quite daunting.

I did like the writing exercises suggested in both the Luker and Knight books, and I think that those could be a really helpful starting point. It was also interesting that Luker was emphatic on the point of researching something that you were interested in or passionate about, and that Knight advised that that is not always the best course of action. Some good food for thought.

I’ll see you all on Wednesday!