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LIS 397.1 Introduction to Research in Library and Information Science Summer, 2003 Randolph G. Bias, Ph.D., CHFP cell: 512-657-3924. First. There are two components of this and any class: Instruction and Evaluation. Let’s get the evaluation out of the way, early.

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LIS 397.1Introduction to Research in Library and Information ScienceSummer, 2003Randolph G. Bias, Ph.D., CHFP rbias@ischool.utexas.educell: 512-657-3924

First . . .

  • There are two components of this and any class: Instruction and Evaluation.

  • Let’s get the evaluation out of the way, early.

  • Need one volunteer.

Research shows
“Research shows . . .”

  • Finger length is a good (and quick!) indicator of intelligence.

  • One volunteer – measure your finger length in cm.

Hmmmm . . .

  • Everyone in the class will get a grade of “C”

  • But still, we can continue with the “instruction” part of the course.

Oh so maybe
Oh, so maybe . . .

  • Just THIS person isn’t too smart.

  • OK, everyone measure your right index finger.

  • From the top (last) crease in your hand, to the tip of the finger.

  • Write down the length, in cm.

Bettin time
Bettin’ Time!

  • I’ll give everyone one penny.

  • You HAVE to wager it:

    • Turn it heads UP on your desk if you think that two people in this classroom share a birthday, and heads DOWN if you think that no two people share a birthday.

Please go to the board
Please go to the board . . .

  • . . . And complete the following columns:

    • Your first name and last initial.

    • Your birth month and day (I don’t care about the year).

    • The length of your finger, in cm.

    • The number of Major League Baseball games you’ve seen, in person.

    • One favorite hobby.

Now an experiment
Now, an experiment

  • I will hand you each a slip of paper. Please read it an do NOT let anyone else read it.

    • Women receive a pink slip of paper.

    • Men receive a blue slip of paper.

  • After everyone has read his/her slip of paper and refolded it, I’ll show some letters of the alphabet, one at a time, for one second each.

  • After the last one, I’ll say “Go,” and ask you to write down the letters, in order.

  • Any questions?

Ok pencils down
OK, pencils down!


























Who among you
Who among you . . .

  • . . . is a statistical wizard?

  • . . . has experience conducting research?

Many ways to learn new things
Many ways to learn new things

  • Method of Authority

    • trusted authority tells you something

  • Method of Reason

    • follow basic logical laws from philosophy

  • Modeling

  • Trial-and-error

  • Intuition

  • Scientific Method

    • belief on the basis of experience

After this class
After this class . . .

  • You’ll know something about how scientists (information scientists) gather new information.

  • AND you’ll be good at evaluating information others offer you.

Three paths to belief
Three Paths to “Belief”

1 – Naïve acceptance.

2 – Cynicism.

3 – Critical skepticism.

Critical skepticism
Critical Skepticism!

  • Rabbit pie story.

What you ll learn
What you’ll learn:

  • Validity. (Finger length a good indicator of intelligence?)

  • Reliability. (“Oh, just measure it however.”)

  • Sampling – picking a representative sample and then generalizing to a larger population

  • Why larger samples are better

What you ll learn cont d
What you’ll learn (cont’d.):

  • How to represent a group of numbers, meaningfully.

    • Frequency distributions

    • Measures of central tendency

    • Measures of dispersion (spread)

    • Graphing data

  • Operationalizing variables (“intelligence”)

  • Probability

  • Correlation

What you ll learn cont d1
What you’ll learn (cont’d.):

  • Different measurement scales

  • What makes a good research question?

  • Experimental design

    • Independent and dependent variables

    • Controls, counterbalancing, and confounds

    • Hypothesis testing

    • Inferential statistics (is THAT number really bigger than THIS number?)

Professional history
Professional History

  • B.S. in psych from FSU

  • Ph.D. in cognitive psych from UT-Austin

  • Bell Labs for 3 years

  • IBM-Austin for 11 years

  • BMC Software for 5 years

  • Co-founded Austin Usability 3 years ago

  • Previously adjunct faculty member at UT; Have taught at UT, Rutgers, Huston-Tillotson, SWTSU

  • Newly an assoc. prof. in the UT School of Information


To arm you with a scientist’s skepticism, and a scientist’s tools to conduct research and evaluate others’ research. The student who successfully completes this course will understand:

1 – descriptive statistics, and how to represent a collection of numbers

2 – how to design a good experiment (and evaluate if someone else has)

3 – inferential statistics and hypothesis testing

4 – other techniques human beings use to gain new information, such as qualitative methods.


  • Bring in one claim that you hear today or tomorrow. On the news, in your reading, in an ad, wherever.

  • Try to buy books. (Hinton book may not be in yet.)

    See you tomorrow.