Term Paper (30 of grade)
DUE: Thursday, 26 July 2018 at 23:59
You will select an identifiable group of people – a population of interest – and provide a cogent, evidence-based synthesis and analysis of their information behaviors. In doing so, you will apply the concepts from this course and draw conclusions for professional practice by recommending an information service or services for your chosen group.
Your first step for this assignment will be to identify a user population of interest, which you did for your diary and analysis assignment due on July 9. Students have written on the information behaviors of the following groups: elders/seniors, doctors, high school students, pro se legal patrons, journalists, politicians, incarcerated people, caregivers (of stroke victims, cancer patients, etc.), parents of college-bound children, and amateur genealogists. Search for evidence-based literature on the information behaviors of your chosen population, using the search strategies discussed by Bates and other authors on information seeking that we will cover in this class. Assemble, assess, and analyze this evidence in your term paper.
Different user populations have different needs when it comes to information systems and services. Information professionals must often propose new ways to meet the needs of diverse user groups, using evidence. Together, as a class, we will discuss the role of evidence in making practice-based decisions, based on our readings in the second week (especially Koufogiannakis’s 2013 keynote address at the EBLIP7 gathering). After synthesizing the literature on the information behaviors of your population, address a potential service or services that might help address some of their needs. What implications do the needs of your user group have for practice? What issues need to be addressed when providing information services to meet their needs? What are some of their barriers to information? Is there a service you can provide that might help mitigate that barrier? Etc.
There is no set length for your paper, but successful term papers are typically between 15 and 20 pages, double-spaced. Longer papers don’t usually yield better grades; being concise and clear in your writing is important. Shorter papers usually yield poorer grades, as they are often lacking detail. If you cite fewer than 10 references to scholarly literature in your paper, that is problematic.
Take time throughout the semester to work on this paper. Last-minute term papers are stressful. They also typically don’t yield the best results.
- Week 1: You should have a sense of what group you are interested in. Begin exploring that group via literature searches through library databases. Use these ideas to choose an article for your evidence-based summary, if you like.
- Week 2: You should have firmed up your group selection with several relevant references to published literature on that particular group.
- Week 3: The majority of your references are read, and you’ve made a concept matrix or a concept map of the themes in the articles.
- Week 4: Start drafting your paper, using the concept matrix to outline your argument. Fill in any gaps that arise by reading other literature, if necessary.
- Week 4: Draft of paper finished.
- End of week 5: Final paper finished. Be prepared to discuss it in class.
- Abstract (1/2 page): Provide a short description of your manuscript: tell your reader what they can expect to read. Using a reverse outline technique can be helpful here; we will discuss this more in class.
- Introduction (2 – 3 pages): Frame your interest in your selected topic and population. Why should your reader care about your paper? Give your reader a reason to keep reading.
- Literature review (7 – 10 pages): This is a critical review, and you will want to present your results in a logical, organized fashion. Arrange your review topically, not by author – you don’t want to present paragraph after paragraph summarizing each article separately. Instead, synthesize your literature. You might find a concept matrix to be helpful as you work through organizing your review; we will discuss how to make a concept matrix in class.
- Proposal for service(s) (3 – 5 pages): After covering the information behaviors of your chosen population, apply your understanding of information use to that understanding. Suggest a service or services that might be helpful in meeting the information needs and seeking behaviors/practices/activities of your population. It is usually helpful to contextualize your service within an information organization of some kind: a public library, a corporation, a hospital, etc.
- Conclusion (2 – 3 pages): Pull everything together here and provide a broad overview of the argument you made in your paper. You may want to point out areas for future research in the information behaviors of your population here, or make suggestions for how to assess the success of the services you proposed.
- References: Use APA format to create your reference list. A reference manager like Paperpile, Zotero, or RefWorks can be helpful here.