Naturalistic Inquiry for Library Science: Methods and Applications for Research, Evaluation, and Teaching

By Constance Ann Mellon | Go to book overview

4
Intensive Analysis for Theory Generation

Naturalistic inquiry is similar to librarianship itself--organizing knowledge to make it accessible. While naturalistic "knowledge" may be hundreds of pages of field notes, interview transcripts, or documents, the underlying concept is the same. Knowledge can be grouped into categories. Where it overlaps into more than one category, decisions are made about whether to file multiple copies, select one category, or cross- reference. Beginning researchers first confronting the tower of naturalistic data they have collected are often overwhelmed. How will they ever bring meaningful order to all that chaos! However, the business of librarianship is bringing order to chaos so, as new naturalistic researchers, librarians have a psychological advantage. Just consider your data as your "collection," which needs to be organized so that one patron-- you--can understand and retrieve what is in your "library."

In the preceding chapter, data collection and initial analysis were discussed as an integrated process. At some point, however, data collection stops and intensive analysis begins. Both initial and intensive analysis have one focus--to make sense out of the data. Naturalistic researchers make sense out of their data by identifying themes, arranging the themes into patterns of behavior, and developing statements to explain the patterns they observe. The end result of analysis is to present the themes, patterns, and explanations to an audience of readers or listeners so that they understand the phenomenon in the same way that the researcher does.

Both sociologists and anthropologists explain the work of naturalistic inquiry as an attempt to "describe the social world studied so vividly that the reader, like the researcher, can literally see and hear its peo-

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Naturalistic Inquiry for Library Science: Methods and Applications for Research, Evaluation, and Teaching
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Librarianship and Information Science ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyrightt Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Figures xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Preface xv
  • 1 - The Theory Underlying Naturalistic Inquiry 1
  • Notes 20
  • 2 - Selecting, Defining, and Limiting Your Study 23
  • Notes 37
  • 3 - Collecting and Analyzing Naturalistic Data: An Integrated Activity 39
  • Notes 67
  • 4 - Intensive Analysis for Theory Generation 69
  • Notes 94
  • 5 - Presenting Your Findings 97
  • Prologue: Guidelines for Naturalistic Reporting 100
  • References 123
  • Epilogue: Contrasting the Two Reports 124
  • EPILOGUE: CONTRASTING THE TWO REPORTS 128
  • 6 - Naturalistic Inquiry for Research in Library Science 131
  • Notes 144
  • 7 - Naturalistic Inquiry for Evaluation in Library Science 147
  • Notes 166
  • 8 - Naturalistic Inquiry as a Teaching Method in Library Science 169
  • Selected Bibliography 191
  • Index 199
  • About the Author 203
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