Adam Worrall

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Spring 2010, taught by Dr. Besiki Stvilia

This course was an intensive readings course about the core research and practice areas of the field of information science. It included learning about, analyzing, comparing, and critiquing the key ideas, research approaches, methods, conclusions, and impacts of important papers in the field. Major assignments in the course consisted of an independent research project and two discussion leading sessions.

Research Project

My research project for this course was entitled Supporting Community-Building in Digital Libraries: A Pilot Study of LibraryThing. This included design of the study, obtaining IRB approval, collecting and analyzing data, and writing up the results. The final result of the project was a draft article that, with further edits, could eventually be published in a research journal or conference proceeding. It eventually turned into an poster I presented at ASIST 2010. An abstract of the project follows below.

Abstract

Many digital libraries do not support well, through their content and services, the social context surrounding and within them, and should better support community-building activities around and within themselves so as to integrate better with social groups and communities. This exploratory research study provided a preliminary step to studying and solving this problem by piloting a survey instrument to measure the support for community-building in digital libraries, using LibraryThing (librarything.com) as a test case. Limited to a sample of five doctoral students from the Florida State University School of Library and Information Studies, the survey responses indicated the level of support provided by LibraryThing for community-building was rather low, with the social networks of participants with regard to LibraryThing and its users not being especially wide-ranging or dense. In addition, community-building activity was actually observed in the results, but was not supported by the digital library. The validity, reliability, generalizability, and usefulness of the survey instrument and the results and findings uncovered in the project can be improved by adding open-ended questions; following up with other research methods, such as qualitative interviews; and drawing on the concepts and theories of boundary objects, social worlds, and information worlds.

Discussion leading

As part of the course, each student was required to prepare a critique of two papers read for the course, and lead the class discussion on each of these papers. The two papers I was assigned were:

  • Birnholtz, J. P., & Bietz, M. J. (2003). Data at work: Supporting sharing in science and engineering. In M. Pendergast (Ed.), Group ’03: Proceedings of the 2003 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work (pp. 339–348). New York, NY: ACM. doi:10.1145/958160.958215

    View my critique and presentation slides.

  • Lynch, C. (2005). Where do we go from here? The next decade for digital libraries. D-Lib Magazine, 11(7/8). doi:10.1045/july2005-lynch

    View my critique and presentation slides.