The aim of this paper is to provide insights into the use of qualitative methods in the field of library and information science (LIS) research. According to J.D. Glazer (1992), the successful research is not measured by the formality of an approach but by its success in achieving its ends, i.e., to generate accurate and useful information. Possibly the most important contribution of qualitative research is that it gives practitioners, students, and researchers alternative ways of approaching diverse and complex problems. Based on a review of selective research studies carried out between 2011 to 2013 on information-seeking behavior, they tended to depend solely on using the quantitative for obtaining their research results. Since there is a lack of qualitative data to support their statistical findings, as well as to further reflect on the possible solutions, their results of such quantitative studies tended to be inconclusive and incomprehensive – in terms of the ways they reviewed problems and how they identified solutions for tackling the problems. Having recognized the above disadvantages, this paper aims at highlighting the importance of using of qualitative research methods in LIS research, as a way to complement the quantitative results. This paper features a series of interviews with a small group of LIS graduate students, and selective faculty members from the University of Hong Kong and the University of Tsukuba in Japan – to obtain their opinions and experiences in applying various qualitative methods in LIS research. Various advantages, difficulties and challenges in applying the qualitative methods for conducting LIS research are also discussed in this paper.
Elaine W.S. Kong, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Dickson K.W. Chiu, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Patrick Lo, University of Tsukuba, Japan
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