Understand research design and research methods and possess the analytical, written, and oral communication skills to synthesize and disseminate research findings
Throughout the MARA program the instructors have incorporated professional research studies into the curriculum. These articles typically provided a framing of the research question with background information about the topic, a description of the methodology employed to design and implement the study, and a summary of results. Often too, a deeper dive into particular areas of interest provided the opportunity to draw connections between the findings and anecdotal experience.
One example that stands out for me is an AIIM Market Intelligence Industry Watch survey that examined the current success and future prospects of enterprise content management systems (AIIM.org, 2013). What was instructive about this survey was the presence of both qualitative and quantitative analysis that synthesized the narrative feedback provided by the respondents. It also provided a proportional quantitative view using data visualization. Both aspects were important but neither would have provided the full picture.
For example, in response to questions about the role of file shares in document management the vast majority of companies that responded to the survey (about 85%) still have large amounts of poorly managed content in file shares. The story that unfolded is nuanced in terms of the degree of control and the type of content that is in file shares. Additionally, the survey gets at the corporate intentions with regard to the future management of the content.
On a smaller scale, MARA 285 provided several opportunities to learn the techniques of structuring a research question and choosing the appropriate methodology to gather data, conduct analysis and share or apply the results to decision-making. Research methodology also came into play in my electives, Web Usability and Information Visualization.
Supporting Evidence 1
The first evidence of my mastery of this competency is the Group Project in MARA 285 in which the team designed a survey of archivists to learn about their application of Web2.0 tools (social media) in support of their organizational mission and services. The survey questionnaire included a letter of introduction that explained the purpose of the survey and guaranteed the anonymity of the respondents. The project went on further to explain the group’s survey design process, project scope, sampling frame, the variable for each question and our coding scheme for responses.
Supporting Evidence 2
The second evidence of my mastery of this competency is the Final Research Proposal for MARA 285 aimed at discovering the possible connections that could be made between digital asset management systems and the case files of cognitive behavioral therapists working with elderly patients suffering from cognitive impairment. The study would examine the structure of active health records and explore the potential to add rich media such as music and imagery in a way that would support the therapeutic process. The study was also designed in compliance with laws protecting patient privacy.
The proposal included a literature review, a summary of relevant Federal legislation around health information in a clinical setting, background on the current use of technology in personal health and electronic health records, research design and methodology, a project timeline and my personal qualifications for conducting this study.
Supporting Evidence 3
Research methodology was a key component of INFO 251 Web Usability, further demonstrating my mastery of this competency. The course emphasized design methodologies that closely resemble evidence-based scientific approaches. For example, design research and user testing must be performed in order to create successful new user experiences and to validate proposed changes to an existing user interface. My culminating project for this course, design and testing of a change to a web interface, required adhering to best practices for gathering initial design input, and the testing of assumptions about user behavior. User testing in a controlled environment using an iterative process ultimately informed my design choices. This is an example of how research and testing can be used to achieve practical goals in a non-scientific application.
Supporting Evidence 4
Another practical application of research methodology that is evidence of my mastery of this competency is the development of data visualizations in INFO 246 Information Visualization. In my final project for this class, an analysis of the workload of a creative services department, I analyzed the volume and types of work being done in my workplace. The project used an analytical approach to establish variables and choose appropriate visualization tools. The visualizations used quantitative data while my analysis consisted of qualitative storytelling techniques. This data is currently being used to educate management about the nature of work being done in our department.
I have incorporated the use of metrics on a modest scale in my work in the MARA program and in my professional life. The work samples above illustrate how I have applied sound reasoning and process in both a formal study and in more practical short-term applications. The purpose of all of these types of exercises is to create more certainty in the midst of change and complexity and to increase the likelihood of success in any undertaking.
AIIM.org (2013). ECM at the crossroads – Key strategy choices for universal content access [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.aiim.org/Resources/Research/Industry-Watches/2013/2013_May_ECM