Why We Do the Things We Do: Research Styles of LIS Educators


Author(s): Dr. Mary Lynn Rice-Lively (University of Texas at Austin) and Dr. Suellen Adams (University of Rhode Island)





As scholars in the information field explore the options of engagement with communities of practice, we return to the popular theory among information professionals that scholarly research in the information field contributes little to inform practice. What motivates and guides scholars' choice of research topics and research methodologies? The traditional demands for academic productivity for tenure and promotion are acknowledged, but not the focus of this study.



Instead, this research focuses on the following questions: "What influences individual LIS researcher's choice of research strategies? How do personality or cognitive styles shape LIS educators' choice of research methodologies?"



The researchers will report their findings from a study of a small group of productive faculty selected from accredited library and information science programs around the country. The authors define productive as LIS faculty members who have published twelve or more publications since 2000.



Three data collection strategies will be employed during the study. First, the authors will analyze the research publications of study participants, and collect data on  individual research methodology patterns and styles. Second, we will conduct ethnographic interviews with each study participant. A third data collection method will get each participant to complete a personality or cognitive style inventory to determine personality types. Among the traits of particular interest are introversion/extroversion; ambiguity and frustration tolerance; and the researcher's world view such as reductionist (objective/analytic); schematist (objective-holistic); Gnostic (subjective-analytic); and Romantic (subjective-holistic).



An exploration of the scholarly literature identified very few studies exploring the personality-influenced research styles of scholars. One study investigated topics such as "archetypal scientific researcher personality." While another interviewed researchers to discover major influences in the selection of research topics, design, participants, and questions. To date no such studies have been made of scholars in the information field.