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

By Constance Ann Mellon | Go to book overview

5
Presenting Your Findings

Although those of us who do research are curious creatures with a burning desire to know why people behave as they do, very few of us do research merely to satisfy our own curiosity. We intend, at some point, to share our findings with others. The reflective memos of intensive analysis begin to take on the character of early writing--prose directed to those we want to inform about our study. If intensive analysis has been done well, we have a fairly good idea of what it is we want to say about our research. But how to say it--that is a different matter.

Unlike quantitative research where there are accepted conventions for reporting the results of a study, the findings of naturalistic inquiry can be presented in many ways. And none of the ways are clearly defined. Novice researchers who have mastered the complexities of data collection and analysis are suddenly confronted with ideas to present, a pile of blank paper to be filled, and no guidelines to follow. The newly won confidence in their ability to do naturalistic studies falters. It can be a real moment of panic! Too often they revert to the familiar. They take the richness and complexity of their studies and try to pat them down into the neat little boxes of quantitative reporting. They overlay jargon onto what they have learned, turning people, places, and events into subjects and variables. And they produce the kind of writing that often makes me throw a research journal across the room and exclaim in frustration, "Just exactly what does this MEAN?"

Although the style in which a naturalistic study is presented differs from formal to informal depending upon its purpose and audience, the one cardinal rule of style that I believe in is this: "Naturalistic reports should not be boring." After all, the purpose of naturalistic reporting is

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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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