Faculty of Information & Media Studies

Original Research Option

Students in the library

Why pursue original research?

Students who, upon entering the program or during their first term, have a strong interest in LIS research may wish to consider the MLIS original research options.

While original research options are particularly useful for those students intending to pursue doctoral study upon completion of their MLIS degrees, experience with original research also may be highly beneficial to those students seeking employment in organizations where a research element is now a component of many positions, such as in academic libraries, certain special libraries, health care settings and information retrieval organizations.

The goals of the original research options are to:

  1. allow students time for independent reading and thought as a means to develop their interests in LIS research;
  2. further students’ understandings of specific theoretical frameworks, research processes and methodologies;
  3. give students first-hand experience with various elements of independent original research, such as literature searching and review, research question development, ethics review if appropriate, data collection and analysis, and scholarly writing;
  4. enable students to participate in scholarly communication through the preparation of peer-reviewed research articles for conference presentation and/or journal publication.
Students may choose from the following options:

Major Research Project

Students taking the original research option may undertake a Major Research Project under the supervision of a full-time FIMS faculty member. The Major Research Project is intended for those students who want to do a substantial research project.

Successful completion of the Major Research Project achieves four course credits: two in one term (MLIS 9413 and 9414) and two in the following term (MLIS 9415 and 9416). Students taking the Major Research Project option, therefore, have a reduced regular course load after their first term to enable them to complete the research project. For suggestions as to how the Major Research Project may be completed, see the section on Sequencing below.

General Requirements:
  1. All students who have completed five courses and have received an 83% average are eligible.
  2. LIS 9004 (Research Methods) must be completed with a grade of at least 80%.
  3. Only regular FIMS faculty members can supervise Major Research projects, and normally no faculty member will supervise more than two student projects in any one term.
  4. Part-time faculty may volunteer (outside of their collective agreement responsibilities as instructors) to be a co-supervisor on a Major Research project if appropriate, but the full-time faculty member is the one with primary responsibility for ensuring the study is valid, academically rigorous, and conducted according to sound methodological principles. No actions should be taken with respect to the study without the involvement and consent of the full-time faculty member;
  5. A Major Research Project is NOT a means by which a student can take a regular course that is not being offered during a particular term.
  6. While the content of the project may incorporate topics dealt with in other courses, it must differ significantly from any course currently listed in the calendar.
  7. The resource implications of the Major Research Project (required software, hardware etc.) must be addressed in compliance with existing FIMS resource collection policies.
  8. At the end of the first and second terms of the Major Research Project, the faculty supervisor must judge whether the student’s progress is satisfactory or unsatisfactory and assign grades accordingly.
  9. Existing policies for incomplete work apply.
Ethics Requirements:
Contact fims-ethics@uwo.ca for information about information on ethical review.

Procedures:
Students who wish to complete a Major Research Project must:
  • find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is interested in and agreeable to supervising such research. Such contact must be made by the middle of the term prior to the one in which the research will commence;
  • prepare a research proposal to be approved by the supervisor (a form is available for current students on the FIMS Intranet – username and password required);
  • include in the proposal a number of meetings with the faculty member at pre-arranged times during the term to determine whether the work for the research is on track;
  • obtain approval of the proposal from the supervising faculty member 10 working days before the end of classes;
  • if the proposal is approved, the student will begin the project the following term;
  • students should complete the course registration process (i.e., excluding LIS 9413-9416 from their selections) to ensure availability of course options in the event that the grade requirements (see item 1) are not met.
  • once grade eligibility has been met, and during the Add/Drop period, students will Add courses 9413-9416 in the appropriate term and Drop previously selected courses (see item 5) to maintain a suitable course load.
Sequencing:

The Major Research Project option may be enacted in two ways, which differ not only in the length of time spent completing degree requirements, but also in the preparation for the project.

Three term (one year) degree completion:
Students who wish to complete the MLIS with the Major Research Project option within a twelve month timeframe must be very organized right from their first term. Accordingly, a student in his/her first term must find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is willing to supervise the proposed project and who will work with the student to ensure that the project is achievable within the time allowed. The student then must complete the Major Research Project proposal (form on the FIMS Intranet; current students only) in consultation with the faculty supervisor (see further details in Procedures). Once the supervisor approves the proposal, the student then must start immediately in his/her second term to work on the project.

The sequencing of courses in this scenario normally would be (although other configurations also are possible):
  • Term One – five core courses
  • Term Two – three elective courses plus Major Research Project (two course weight)
  • Term Three – three elective courses plus Major Research Project (two course weight)
Four term (or longer) degree completion:
Students who develop an interest in LIS research relatively late in their first term and want to undertake the Major Research Project option may opt to lengthen the time spent achieving the MLIS degree.

In such cases, in second term, the student may wish to undertake an Individual Study (MLIS 9410, one course weight), using this opportunity to do the background reading, literature review and proposal development for the Major Research Project. In the term preceding the desired start of the Individual Study, the student must find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is willing to supervise the proposed project and who will work with the student to ensure that the project is achievable within the time allowed. The student then must develop a proposal (form on the FIMS Intranet; current students only) in consultation with the faculty supervisor (see further details in Procedures).

Once the supervisor approves the proposal, the student is ready to begin working on the Major Research Project in terms three and four. This approach gives the student time to work on proposal development as a course credit in second term, and also enables the student to take only one regular course in each of third and fourth terms. This may be very beneficial as more time then can be devoted to completion of the Major Research Project.

Sequencing of courses might look like the following (although other configurations also are possible):
  • Term One – five core courses
  • Term Two – three elective courses plus Individual Study (one course weight)
  • Term Three – one elective course plus Major Research Project (two course weight)
  • Term Four – one elective course plus Major Research Project (two course weight)

Archiving of LIS 9413-9416 Reports:
A copy of the final 9413-9416 projects must be kept as a permanent record with the FIMS Graduate Resource Centre or on the FIMS Intranet, as appropriate; therefore, after grading, a clean copy of the revised final project must be submitted to the supervisor who will then forward it to the GRC within one month of grading.

Guided Research

Guided Research Option Students taking the Guided Research courses (MLIS 9411-9412) may undertake a small research project under the supervision of a full-time FIMS faculty member. Unlike the Individual Study, the Guided Research courses are not designed primarily as advanced reading courses, but must include an original research component, with the formulation of sound research questions and appropriate methodologies to address such questions. Students may choose to do either 9411 (Guided Research I), or both 9411 and 9412 (Guided Research II). For suggestions on various ways that the Guided Research project may be completed, see Sequencing at the end of this page.

General Requirements:

  1. Only regular FIMS faculty members can supervise Guided Research studies, and normally no faculty member will supervise more than two student projects in any one term;
  2. Part-time faculty may volunteer (outside of their collective agreement responsibilities as instructors) to be a co-supervisor on an Guided Research study if appropriate, but the full-time faculty member is the one with primary responsibility for ensuring the study is valid, academically rigorous, and conducted according to sound methodological principles. No actions should be taken with respect to the study without the involvement and consent of the full-time faculty member;
  3. While the content of Guided Research study may incorporate topics dealt with in other courses, it must differ significantly from any course currently listed in the calendar;
  4. At the end of the first and second terms of the Guided Research project, the faculty supervisor must judge whether the student’s progress is satisfactory or unsatisfactory and assign grades accordingly.
  5. Existing policies for incomplete work apply.

Ethics Requirements:
Ethics information is available on the Intranet.

Procedures:
Students who wish to complete a Guided Research study must:

  • find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is interested in and agreeable to supervising such research. Such contact must be made by the middle of the term prior to the one in which the research will commence.
  • prepare a research proposal to be approved by the supervisor (a form is available for current students on the FIMS Intranet – username and password required);
  • include in the proposal a number of meetings with the faculty member at pre-arranged times during the term to determine whether the work for the research is on track;
  • obtain approval of the proposal from the supervising faculty member;
  • 10 working days before the end of classes, submit the approved proposal form to the Graduate Programs Assistant in NCB 240 for approval by the Associate Dean or LIS Program Coordinator;
  • if the proposal is approved, the student will begin the project the following term. Projects may be approved for a single term (Guided Research I) or for two terms (Guided Research I and II). Proposals for Guided Research Projects also may be developed as part of an Individual Study

Archiving of Guided Research Projects:
A copy of the final Guided Research project must be kept as a permanent record with the FIMS GRC or on the FIMS Intranet, as appropriate; therefore, after grading, a clean copy of the revised final project must be submitted to the supervisor who will then forward it to the GRC within one month of grading.

  • Sequencing:

    Three term (one year) degree completion:

    Students who wish to complete the MLIS with the two course Guided Research option within a twelve month timeframe must be very organized right from their first term. Accordingly, a student in his/her first term must find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is willing to supervise the proposed project and who will work with the student to ensure that the project is achievable within the time allowed. The student then must complete a Guided Research proposal (form on the FIMS Intranet; current students only) in consultation with the faculty supervisor (see further details in Procedures, following). Once the supervisor approves the proposal, the student then must start immediately in his/her second term to work on the project.

    The sequencing of courses in this scenario normally would be (although other configurations also are possible):
    Term One – five core courses
    Term Two – four elective courses plus Guided Research I (one course weight)
    Term Three – four elective courses plus Guided Research II (one course weight).

    Four term (or longer) degree completion:
    Students who develop an interest in LIS research relatively late in their first term and want to undertake the two course Guided Research option may opt to lengthen the time spent achieving the MLIS degree.

    There are two different ways to proceed. Option A is for a student to take Guided Research I and II once h/she is beyond his/her first term. In such cases, the student needs to find a find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is willing to supervise the proposed project and who will work with the student to ensure that the project is achievable within the time allowed. The student then must develop a Guided Research proposal (form on the FIMS Intranet; current students only) in consultation with the faculty supervisor in the term prior to the start of the research (see further details in Procedures, following).

    If the student would like more time to prepare for the Guided Research courses, Option B is to take an Individual Study (MLIS 9410, one course weight; see guidelines under that course description) first, using this opportunity to do the background reading, literature review and proposal development for the Guided Research project. This approach gives the student time to work on proposal development as a course credit in second term, and also enables the student to take fewer regular courses each term. This may be very beneficial in terms three and four as more time can be devoted to the research project.

    With either option, a proposal for the Guided Research courses must be produced. Once the supervisor approves the proposal, the student is ready to begin working on the Guided Research project.

    For Option A, sequencing of courses might look like the following (although other configurations also are possible):
    Term One – five core courses
    Term Two – four elective courses; develop Guided Research proposal
    Term Three – two elective courses plus Guided Research I (one course weight)
    Term Four – two elective courses plus Guided Research II (one course weight)

    For Option B, sequencing of courses might look like the following (although other configurations also are possible):
    Term One – five core courses
    Term Two – three elective courses plus Individual Study (one course weight)
    Term Three – two elective courses plus Guided Research I (one course weight)
    Term Four – two elective courses plus Guided Research II (one course weight)

Individual Study

An Individual Study (MLIS 9410) may be undertaken for a one-course credit under the supervision of a full-time FIMS faculty member. The purpose of the study is to enable the student to explore some aspect of the profession or discipline not covered through regular courses.

An Individual Study usually does not involve original research per se but rather allows the student to examine issues in the literature or in practice and complete a paper or project on that topic. However, in some instances, an Individual Study may encompass a small focused piece of original research, such as an exploratory or feasibility study.

An Individual Study must be completed within one term. In the term preceding the desired start of the Individual Study, the student must find a full-time FIMS faculty member who is willing to supervise the proposed project and who will work with the student to ensure that the project is achievable within the time allowed. The student then must develop a proposal in consultation with the faculty supervisor. The proposal must be approved by the supervisor so that work can commence at the start of the next term.

General Requirements:
  1. Only regular FIMS faculty members can supervise Individual studies, and normally no faculty member will supervise more than two student projects in any one term;
  2. Part-time faculty may volunteer (outside of their collective agreement responsibilities as instructors) to be a co-supervisor on an Independent Study if appropriate, but the full-time faculty member is the one with primary responsibility for ensuring the study is valid, academically rigorous, and conducted according to sound methodological principles. No actions should be taken with respect to the study without the involvement and consent of the full-time faculty member;
  3. An Individual Study is NOT a means by which a student can take a regular course that is not being offered during a particular term;
  4. While the content of Individual Study may incorporate topics dealt with in other courses, it must differ significantly from any course currently listed in the calendar.
  5. The study should not make major time demands of the supervising faculty member and would typically involve directed readings, some sort of term project, and a final report of 25-30 double spaced pages or something equivalent.
  6. An Individual Study usually does not involve original research whereby ethics approval would be sought (such as in the case of surveys, interviews, focus groups or other participation by human subjects). Such research should be carried out as a Guided Research (9411-9412) or Major Research Project (9413-9416).
Procedure:

Students who wish to complete an Individual Study must:
  • find an interested full-time faculty member who is willing to oversee the study;
  • develop a study proposal (a form is available for current students on the FIMS Intranet – username and password required);
  • include in the proposal a number of meetings with the faculty member at pre-arranged times during the term to determine whether the work for the study is on track;
  • obtain approval of the proposal from the supervising faculty member;
  • 10 working days before the end of classes, submit the approved proposal form to the Graduate Programs Assistant in NCB 240 for approval by the Associate Dean or appropriate Program Coordinator.
Archiving of Individual Studies:

A copy of the final 9410 projects must be kept as a permanent record with the FIMS GRC or on the FIMS Intranet, as appropriate; therefore, after grading, a clean copy of the revised final project must be submitted to the supervisor who will then forward it to the GRC within one month of grading
Original research courses do not normally count toward an MLIS Program Content Area. Students who wish to have one of these courses considered for eligibility for a Program Content Area can talk to the Manager, Graduate Student Services on a case-by-case basis.



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