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

By Constance Ann Mellon | Go to book overview

data was analyzed, the results of data analysis, and implications of the study.

Through their choice of organization, the authors of the two studies have created markedly different effects. Michel's study is informal, almost journalistic in its presentation. The reader is drawn immediately into the situation Michel is describing and, until the fourth paragraph, may be unaware that the essay is a research report. Although the report makes it clear that Michel's study was carefully conducted and thoughtfully analyzed, the process of data collection and analysis plays a small role in the organization of the paper. For an audience with an understanding of naturalistic inquiry or for a journal that emphasizes a clear, informal style of writing, Michel's organization provides an excellent model.

The library anxiety article, written for the editor, readers, and reviewers of a research journal, is organized in a manner as closely resembling traditional research studies as possible. While retaining the flavor of naturalistic writing through quotations and descriptions from the data, the organization of the article immediately informs readers that it is a research report. This paper provides an example of how naturalistic findings can be organized for more formal situations or to appear credible to an audience grounded in quantitative research.


Reading and Writing Naturalistic Studies: A Final Note

For those who have come this far, it should be clear that naturalistic research is a process of inquiry with theoretical foundations and a methodology as rigorous and demanding as those of quantitative research. Naturalistic studies, however, are more difficult to judge and present as good research for two reasons. First, no accepted conventions exist for reporting the results of naturalistic research. Second, librarians as consumers of research are less familiar with naturalistic methodology than they are with quantitative methods. To effectively write the report of a naturalistic study or to evaluate the naturalistic research of others, librarians need to know what to look for or what to include in a naturalistic report. Without careful attention to the elements of naturalistic reporting, good research may be judged as poor and poor research may be considered adequate or typical of naturalistic studies.


NOTES
1.
Strauss, Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists, p. 263.
2.
Ibid., p. 238.
3.
Lofland, Analyzing Social Settings, p. 128.
4.
Spradley and McCurdy, The Cultural Experience, pp. 83-84.

-128-

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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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