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Research Methods in Library and Information Science and Services

Research Methods in Library and Information Science and Services: The following research methods are commonly used in Library and Information Science.

a) Survey Method: Survey research has been widely used in LIS. It deals mainly with collection, analysis and presentation of data relating to the present time reflecting the present state of affairs in social, economic and political activities. Survey method is approached through the methods of personal interview, mailed questionnaires (both surface and Email), telephone, personal discussion, electronic survey, and so on.

i) Cross Sectional Survey (=Single Short Survey): In this design, peoples are asked questions at one points of time. It is difficult to establish the time order to variables. It is difficult to exchange over a period of time.

ii) Panel Study and Trend Study: In a panel study the same peoples are interviewed two or more times. Eg. Some users are interviewed at different times to seek their views on product. In a trend study two or more different samples of people are drawn at different times from the same population.

* Panel Study: Panel studies provide information on both the net and gross changes. Panel studies can describe how the individual members of a population are changing.

* Trend Study: Trend studies involve information on net changes. Trend studies can describe how the distributions of variable are changes in the population studied.


Some of the characteristics of survey method are-

i) It is directly concerned with social life as it exists there and now. What is observed, described, collected or a body of facts about current situation and problem.

ii) It focuses upon given locality or geographical area.

iii) A large volume of information can be collected from a very large population.

iv) The information generally collected through survey is accurate.

Some of the limitation of Survey Method are

i) It demands more money, effort, and time.

ii) It need to train the interviewers, otherwise it will contribute to error.

iii) Survey information touches only the surface of the research field and does not make a deeper thrust into it.

iv) The respondent’s personal inhibitions, indifference and unawareness of the nature and purpose of investigation render survey information invalid or at least imprecise.

v) If sample information has not been collected very carefully, the magnitude of sampling error may be too large to render the sample results reasonably accurate.

            Some well known examples of survey research that are applicable to library and information sciences are-

i) User Study or User Survey: To determine the utilization of library resources, satisfaction of the clientele and their need.

ii) Community Survey: To know the characteristic of the population being served by a library or to be served by the proposed library.

iii) Library Survey: To ascertain the resource of a library or a group of libraries and their growth in a particular period.

b) Case Study Method: Case study is a population type of qualitative research and it can be defined as “in depth investigation of a discrete entity (which may be a single setting, subject, collection or event) on the assumption that it is possible to derive knowledge of the wide phenomena from intensive investigation of a specific instance or case”. In the words of Pauline V. Young “a comprehensive study of a social unit- be that unit a person, a group, a social institution, a district, or a community – is called a case study”.

Case study is a qualitative analysis where careful and complete observation of an individual or a situation or an institution is done. An effort is made to study each and every aspect of the concerning unit in minute details, and then from the case data generalization and inferences are drawn.

            Case data may be gathered exhaustively on an entire life cycle of a social unit or a definite section of it whether a section or the whole of a life is studied. The aim is to ascertain the natural history that is an account of generic development of a person or group, revealing the factors and method of life of the unit within the cultural setting. Thus, case study aid in studying behavior in specific and in details.

            The significance of Case Study Method is:

i) This method enables us to understand fully the behavior pattern of the concern unit.

ii) Through case study a researcher can obtain a real and enlighten record of personal experiences, which should reveal man’s inner strivings, tension and motivation that drive into action along with the forces that direct him to  adopt a certain pattern of behavior.

c) Delphi Technique: Delphi method is basically a technique of obtaining consensus among experts opinion on a given problem. A questionnaire is prepared translating the aims and objectives of research. The identified problem is put up to the panel of experts in many rounds till a consensus agreement is achieved. The basic theory behind this technique is that consensus opinion among majority of opinions will have grater creditability and authority than the guess of only the most articulate / spokespersons in a group of participating respondent.

In the formulation of library legislations, policy making for libraries, curriculum design, and method of teaching and evaluation process of decision making and in manpower planning Delphi method can be used.