Competency L

Demonstrate understanding of quantitative and qualitative research methods, the ability to design a research project, and the ability to evaluate and synthesize research literature.

Competency Definition

Research can be defined as the “creation of new knowledge” derived and communicated from objective information and built upon prior established knowledge (Bawden & Robinson, 2012, p. 304). It is based on data, observable information or direct experience of the world to answer research questions (Punch, 2009). The data generated informs the kind of research: quantitative data is numerical, while qualitative data is not numerical, typically in the form of text (Punch, 2009). The closed-ended, fixed, statistically analyzed response categories of quantitative research methods promote meaningful comparisons across large group samples; the open-ended, complex, textual responses allow for allowing for spontaneity and adaptation from close contact, participant-researcher interactions (Mack, Woodsong, MacQueen, Guest, & Namey, 2005, p. 3-4). Few studies are solely quantitative and qualitative; arguably, the best studies involve some kind of triangulation of approaches using mixed methods (Salmons, 2015).

Research is at the core of every academic discipline and forms the basis for putting theory into practice. The research process must be conducted in a manner that is systematic, empirical, publicly verifiable, and within the scope of scientific investigation given current knowledge (Leary, 2012). Research also entails developing one’s individual ability to judge existing research for their arguments, validity of evidence, and methodological rigor, in order to synthesize it effectively to support one’s research claims. These claims form the wider, ongoing academic conversation that drives progress in an academic discipline forward. The research article is one concrete result of research, the basic unit of scientific communication and academic discourse, built up from the various communications and insights between researchers and published research, their colleagues, their data (whether in the form of extant, elicited, or enacted data; see Salmons, 2015), and their analyses (quantitative, qualitative, or both).

For the past two years, I have actively pursued an MLIS because I want to develop a broader, interdisciplinary research perspective beyond my undergraduate research experiences in psychology. Drawing on both the principles of traditional librarianship and practices in information organization and retrieval mediated by emerging technologies, Library and Information Science (LIS) maintains a standard of research practice informed by concrete data and observation. Information professionals need to know how to understand, synthesize, and conduct research in order to serve their patrons effectively and develop new systems of information access and organization, and assist patrons in their research processes as well. As an aspiring information professional, knowing how to navigate and conduct solid research is integral for my personal research aspirations and future collaborations. I entered this program from the desire for developing proficiency in every aspect of the research process from an LIS perspective, and gained experience in writing literature reviews, engagement in the collaborative nature of research, the analysis and presentation of findings, and the generation of theoretical proposals from the intersections between concepts.

Discussion of Competency Supporting Evidence

Research is a way to explore the intersections between concepts and publish them to generate ideas and conversation among researchers. The literature review is an essential component of any research project, and it can lead to collaborative efforts in generating and testing research questions. It is necessary to see what work exists in the field already, and see what gaps in knowledge can and need to be addressed. New research builds upon previous work, as an ongoing communication between researchers towards the development of formally recognized scientific knowledge (Liberman & Wolf, 2013). Such information seeking must also be purpose driven, arising from an original theoretical question or a need to put a particular theory into practice, based on a strong synthesis of the existing literature. The literature review motivates the rest of the research process, which involves collecting data, analyzing for trends, interpreting findings, and offering recommendations for future research. The methods must flow from the research questions; how research is conducted depends on and must match what is being investigated, the population of interest, and the kind of data that will be generated and collected (Punch, 2009). Subsequent analyses, interpretations, presentations, and publications based on this data lead to contributions that shape the current academic discourse.

Evidence 1: Rebmann, K.R., Te, E. E., & Means, D. (2017). TV white spaces in public libraries: A primer. Information Technology and Libraries, 36(1), 36-47. doi: 10.6017/ital.v36i1.9720

TV White Spaces in Public Libraries Primer.pdf

In an INFO 298 Special Studies project directed by Dr. Kristen Rebmann, I researched and wrote about applications for implementing TV White Space (TVWS) technology in public libraries. Prior to the start of the semester when I began writing and preparing this manuscript, I was in email communications with Dr. Rebmann, talking about shared research interests. In those discussions, she brought up the fact that she was working on a grant proposal to the Institute of Museum and Library Services to pilot low-cost TVWS technology in public libraries as an effort to address the “Digital Divide,” which describes various socio-economic factors that play a role in preventing underserved populations from easy, equitable Internet access. Publishing a research article describing the potential effectiveness of TVWS in the context of what public libraries are already doing to address the Digital Divide would jumpstart another angle in the wider scholarly discourse on how to best provide Internet access as a basic right for all. I was excited at the prospect of getting involved at this stage in the process.

As I discovered during my writing process, mention of TVWS technology in the LIS literature is sparse, as it is a currently developing technology that taps into existing spectrums used in TV and wireless signal bands. I had to delve into the communications literature, with its technical, discipline-specific jargon, to parse together material to cater to LIS audiences. The process of writing a theoretical piece of this nature was new to me at the time, but it showed me how to prioritize writing ideas in a way that would introduce readers with a stake in the successful functioning of libraries to the potential benefits of TVWS in boosting Internet access. I was able to contextualize the Digital Divide in how public libraries are not built to meet the ever-increasing demand of user needs and e-government services, and present the potential benefits of TVWS in addressing these issues in providing cost-effective Internet access to underserved populations (Rebmann, Te, & Means, 2017). The most practical application of TVWS in libraries is the boosted connection speeds and range that allows patrons to access the library Internet from a wider range beyond the physical library space. The article also proposed TVWS implementation in crisis response applications, as libraries have a history of assisting communities in disaster response and recovery (Bertot, McClure, & Jaeger, 2008). The end product was a theoretical paper that explored the various existing applications of TVWS, raising awareness of its benefits in the public library setting, submitted and published in the open access journal Information Technology and Libraries.

Evidence 2: Te, E. E., Akbar, K., & Knight, M. R. (2015, May). The impact of ego depletion and moral concerns on memory for faces and moral information about others. Poster session presented at the meeting of the Western Psychological Association, Las Vegas, NV.


Working towards my BA in psychology, I had the opportunity to conduct my own research project and earn an Honors designation. This Honors program allows students to gain hands-on experience in exploring all the steps of experimental research using a cohort model. Over the course of a year and two semesters, spring semester to fall semester sequentially, I developed a research proposal and received IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval, built my experiment using PsyScope, a free experiment presentation program, ran participants through my experimental paradigm, analyzed data using SPSS, and presented my findings and interpretations to my colleagues and at conference presentations. The critical thinking, attention to detail, and time management involved regarding the quantification of variables and statistical analyses, towards conference poster presentations all in the span of a year gave me a taste of how the research process felt like in addressing gaps in current research and bridging seemingly distant concepts together.

The study I conducted is based on previous work that I was involved with under my psychology advisor Dr. M. R. Knight, who investigated how moral concerns impact one's recall of individual faces and morally-charged behaviors. I expanded on this research question by investigating how such memory patterns are influenced by ego depletion, the concept pioneered by Roy Baumeister that proposes self-control as a limited resource that gets taxed during complex, consecutive tasks (Baumeister, Muraven, & Tice, 2000). In my study, 127 participants (psychology undergraduate students completing the study for course credit) completed an ego depletion or a control task, and then associated neutral white male faces paired with behaviors that violated, upheld, or were neutral along Jonathan Haidt’s Moral Foundations Theory. Haidt and colleagues proposed that universal moral concerns of Harm (H), Fairness (F), Loyalty (L), Authority (A), and Purity (P) form the foundations of moralities that individual espouse to varying liberal and conservative degrees (Graham et al., 2011). Participants in my study then were given an old/new recognition test for the faces: they were presented with a face and were asked to respond if they have seen the face before in the previous association phase. Participants also were given a correct/incorrect recognition test for face-behavior pairings, and were asked to respond if the presented pairing was correct or incorrect based on the previous association phase. (As a technical note, all face-behavior pairings were counterbalanced across six scripts, to ensure that the face-behavior pairing was not memorable due to the neutral face but rather the behavior.)

SPSS analyses found that participants scoring as liberals on the MFT had higher recognition accuracy for faces paired with HF behaviors in both the ego depletion and control conditions; participants scoring as conservatives on the MFT had higher recognition accuracy for faces paired with LAP behaviors relative to HF behaviors, with a larger difference in the ego depletion condition relative to control. I concluded that differences proposed by MFT in moral concerns between liberals and conservatives were consistent with face recognition accuracy patterns observed and were strengthened as a result of ego depletion. I also proffered directions for future research that could expand MFT research beyond discussions in politics towards more everyday contexts, such as applying the study’s novel experimental paradigm with a wider cross-section of participants beyond undergraduate psychology students to investigate further generalizability across different age groups. [For additional information, see my final submission manuscript for the Honors program here.]

This work led to a poster presentation that I presented at various conferences, most notably at the 2015 Western Psychological Association conference. This poster summarizes my integration of moral, evolutionary, and cognitive perspectives to explore how moral concerns shift with ego depletion, as reflected in a novel paradigm of recognition and identification of associations between individuals and morally-charged behaviors. I succinctly presented how I developed the rationale for my study from key research articles, built and deployed the computerized experiment, conducted statistical analyses using SPSS based on their responses, and drew arguable conclusions in how this study shed light on how moral concerns affect one’s moral information processing of others and their behaviors. I also included sample pictures of items that participants saw during the experiment and two graphs that showed statistical significance on two key variables: Moral domain X Condition (experimental ego depletion versus control), and Correct Response Type X Moral Domain X Political Affiliation Tendency (whether participants recognized matched versus mismatched face-behavior pairings correctly, based on their liberal/conservative tendency). From this year long process, I demonstrated that I can successfully execute a research project, from idea conception to presentation of my findings, and I intend to bring this experience to all of my future research endeavors.

Future Directions

All scientific research, both qualitative and quantitative, consists of an investigation to answer research questions. The framing of the research questions and the determination of what kind of data are necessary to answer those questions. The study design that lays out plans for data collection and analysis, and the use of that data to answer the research questions are always towards some application beyond the study’s original parameters (Punch 2009; Mack et al., 2005). I know that I can bring the strengths and skills derived from my work here in the MLIS program, alongside my undergraduate psychology research experience, into my future research endeavors. As an information professional in the broadest sense of the term, I aspire to enter a PhD program in Psychology soon after completion of the MLIS program, to pursue my research interests in investigating hypotheses of religion and spirituality from a psychological perspective, integrating the skills and perspective of LIS in this process. I see myself in a position to assist others in their research as well, especially aspiring undergraduate researchers, whether it is in a social sciences library liaison capacity or as a professor ensuring that students are equipped with the necessary skills to conduct their own research. Working towards this end, I will continue researching and writing to develop my academic writing skills, and continue diversifying my experiences with quantitative and qualitative research methods. I want to ensure that I can help others dissect, synthesize, and present various ideas, so they know how to communicate with others in the wider academic conversation.


Baumeister, R. F., Muraven, M., & Tice, D. M. (2000). Ego depletion: A resource model of volition, self-regulation, and controlled processing. Social Cognition, 18, 130-150. doi:10.1521/soco.2000.18.2.130

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behavior. Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). Chicago: Neal-Schuman.

Bertot, J., Jaeger, P., Langa, L., & McClure, C. (2006). Public access computing and Internet access in public libraries: The role of public libraries in e-government and emergency situations. First Monday, 11(9). doi:10.5210/fm.v11i9.1392

Joseph, H. (2015). Open access. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information services today: An introduction (pp. 325-333). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Leary, M.R. (2012). Introduction to behavioral research methods (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Liberman, S., & Wolf, K. B. (2013). Scientific communication in the process to coauthorship. In G. Feist, & M. Gorman (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of science (pp. 123-147). New York: Springer Publishing Company.

Mack, N., Woodsong, C., MacQueen, K.M., Guest, G., & Namey, E. (2005). Qualitative research methods: A data collector's field guide. North Carolina: Family Health International.

Punch, K. (2009). Introduction to research methods in education. Los Angeles: Sage.

Reay, T. (2014). Publishing Qualitative Research. Family Business Review, 27(2), 95-102. doi: 10.1177/0894486514529209

Rebmann, K.R., Te, E. E., & Means, D. (2017). TV white spaces in public libraries: A primer. Information Technology and Libraries, 36(1), 36-47. doi:10.6017/ital.v36i1.9720

Salmons, J. (2016). Doing qualitative research online. Los Angeles: Sage.