Evaluating Qualitative Research Studies for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

Doug Suarez

Abstract


Objective - Research studies in the literature that may be useful for solving professional practice questions are frequently based on findings from studies that use qualitative methods. Criteria used to appraise qualitative research are still evolving and often lack the readily understood precision of the numerical criteria used for quantitative research. Qualitative research studies can often be more valuable than quantitative studies for a given situation. This article offers a template to assess qualitative methods used in practitioner-led research for library and information science.

Methods – This paper presents a narrative scenario of a library management problem. After conducting a literature search, the author identified an article with apparent relevance and potential to help resolve the problem. The author then evaluated the article using an assessment framework to illustrate how qualitative library research can be assessed. The paper examines the components of the framework, and explores the process.

Results - The appraisal of the selected article demonstrates that qualitative methods used in library research can be critically evaluated for evidence to assist librarians in addressing their professional practice questions.

Conclusions - Results obtained from qualitative research projects can be applied as evidence to support library practice. Qualitative methods are useful, and for many library practice issues, the assessment process illustrated here will help librarians evaluate the evidence and assess its appropriateness for practice.

Keywords


academic librarianship; qualitative research evaluation

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