Academic journal article Notes

Administration and Curricula of the Introductory Graduate Music Research Course

Academic journal article Notes

Administration and Curricula of the Introductory Graduate Music Research Course

Article excerpt


The introductory research course is an integral part of many graduate music programs, yet there have been few studies that discuss its curricula across institutions. A questionnaire was sent to instructors of the course to identify shared pedagogical approaches among North American schools of music. The survey was divided into sections that prompted respondents to identify issues discussed in the course, including the types and titles of resources, research methodologies, and library use topics. With a response rate of over 40 percent, the survey also contains valuable data concerning the professional identifications of instructors, assignments used for grading, common textbooks, perception of the course's efficacy, and more. Shared features of the course included the importance of electronic resources; the minimal use of Internet-mediated instruction formats; a strong preference for English-language materials; and a focus on resources such as databases, style guides, collected works, monuments of music, and thematic catalogs over and above others such as repertoire guides, discographies, directories, and iconographies.


The introductory research course, although de rigueur in most graduate music programs, has not attracted any descriptive research examining its format, administration, pedagogical approach, and topical agenda since the early 1970s. (1) Indeed, there has been relatively little discussion concerning the range of topics that are explored in the class, nor has there been an analysis of the type and number of institutions that require the course, the professional backgrounds of its instructors, and the extent to which online instruction has or has not become ubiquitous. The aim of the following study is to address these lacunae, and contribute to a thoughtful exchange among librarians, educators, performers, authors, and other interested parties regarding what topics and methods of instruction may most benefit students and the fields of music scholarship.


Surveys sent to faculty to identify curricular practice have precedent in disciplines such as psychology, education, and library instruction. In "Doctoral Training in Statistics, Measurement, and Methodology in Psychology," for example, the authors draw on the findings of a previous study of Ph.D. psychology programs in North America, and relate them to their more recent survey. (2) Deborah Bandalos and Jason Kopp conduct a similar type of study to identify the manner in which measurement

Data from this paper were presented at the 2014 annual conferences of the Music Library Association and the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres. techniques are taught to education majors. (3) Matthew Reynolds likewise uses a questionnaire to study the relationship among staffing, facilities, and outreach in special-collection instruction at ARL member libraries. (4) These studies are similar in their focused distribution of questionnaires to instructors, and in their intent to identify curricula, methods of assessment, and other facts about pedagogy significant to their respective disciplines.

For the purposes of this study the definition of an introductory graduate music research course will include any course in which students from more than one music discipline are taught about scholarly resources, writing techniques, critical approaches to music and music history, library use, or some combination thereof. I constructed the questionnaire drawing largely on data gleaned from several of the more recent music research guides, consultations with instructors, catalog descriptions of courses that fit the specified criteria, and various articles and essays dealing with music information literacy pedagogy. (5) I determined that the course usually includes instruction in one or all of the following categories: research methodologies, fields of research, resources, writing techniques, and library use. …

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