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Research is a scholarly activity which encourages advancement of

knowledge which in turn helps to renovate the social order. Various authors

define research in different ways. The fundamental purpose of research is to find

answers to questions through the application of systematic and scientific

methods. Thus, research is the systematic approach towards purposeful

investigation. According to Grinnel (1993), 'research is a structured inquiry that

utilizes acceptable scientific methodology to solve problems and creates new

knowledge that is generally applicable.' The Webster's International Dictionary

defines Research as 'a carefijl critical enquiry or examination in seeking facts for

principles, diligent investigation in order to ascertain something.' According to

S.R. Ranganathan research represents a critical and exhaustive investigation to

discover new facts, to interpret them in the light of known ideas, theories and

laws, to revive the current law and theories in the light of the newly discovered

facts to apply the conclusion to practical purpose. Research is not simply an

inquest; it is in reality a scientific quest. Research aims at seeking knowledge. It

endeavors to find out new facts or principles.

Research methods are the methods and techniques engaged or used by

researchers in conducting research operations. The scientific and structured way

to solve research problems are known as research methodology. In addition to

the knowledge of methods or techniques, a researcher has to design the

methodology as well. The methodology may differ from problem to problem.

Research methodology deals with the research methods and takes into

consideration the logic behind the methods we use. Thus the scope of research

methodology is wider than research methods (Bhattacharya, 2006). Research

methodology helps in using tecliniques appropriate for the study, keeping in view

the objectives of the study and the availability of time and money. Research

methodology, in fact has a great bearing on the reliability of the results arrived at

and as such constitute the firm foundation of the entire edifice of the study. In the

absence of research methodology, it will be difficult for the critic to provide a

comprehensive review of the proposed study as well as for the researcher to

design any study, as designing any study is an integral part of research

methodology (Bhattacharyya, 2004).


Kerlinger defines research design 'as the plan, structure and strategy of

investigation conceived so as to obtain answers to research questions and to

control variance.' Bernard Philips described the research design as a 'blue print

for the collection, measurement and analysis of data.'(Bhattacharya, 2006). A

research design has three phases:

• Observational design which specifies the conditions and methods of

making observations.

• Statistical design which takes into account the quantitative and

statistical aspects of the design.

• Operational design is related to the use of specific technique for the

operation of the model already designed.

These phases are not independent, they are rather interdependent.

(Bhattacharyya, 2004).

(Young, 1966) observed that the working out of the plan consists in the

reality of making certain decisions with respect to:

• What the study is about and the types of data that are needed?

• Why the study is being made?

• Where the needed data can be found?

• Where or in what areas, the study will be carried on?

• When , or what periods of time, the study will include?

• How much material or how many cases will be needed?

• What basis of selection will be used?

• What techniques of gathering data will be adopted?

Thus the consideration which enter into making the decisions regarding

the what, where, when, how much and by what means, constitute a plan of study

or a study design (IGNOU, 2000). Thus while selecting the research methods all

these have to be taken into consideration and the methods most suitable for the

present study has to be chosen.


The methods adopted for the present study was selected taking into

consideration the objectives of the study. The feasibility of the methods was also

considered. Keeping in view the above two factors an integrated approach to

research methods were found suitable for the study. This integrated approach

includes qualitative research, case study method, historical method, documentary

analysis method and survey method.


Qualitative research involves collecting qualitative data by way of in-

depth interviews, observations, field notes, open-ended questions etc. (Gaur &

Gaur, 2009). It may also include case studies, surveys, historical and document

analysis. Qualitative research has several hall marks. It is conducted in natural

setting, without intentionally manipulating the environment. In qualitative

research, it is not necessarily assumed that the findings of one study may be

generalized easily to other settings. There is a concern for the uniqueness of a

particular setting and participants (Choudhury, 2012).

In the present study qualitative research method was adopted as the study

involved case study, survey, historical and documentary analysis. Moreover

observation technique and open-ended questions, though few, were included in

the questionnaire which was used in the survey method.


The basic aim of the research is to study the development and use of

library services in Assam University Library since its inception. Hence case

study method is adopted as it is deep and intensive study of Assam University

Library. Though the field of study is limited, but it aims to studying all aspects of

the unit. Young (1966) defines case study method as 'a method of exploring and

analyzing the life of a social unit, be that unit a personal, a family, institution,

cultural groups or even an entire community.' Since the case study method

makes an in depth study of a particular unit of investigation and is always

approached with an open mind, it confers upon the researcher a huge wealth of

new ideas and new suggestions for further exploration of the research fields.

Case study methods have also an advantage in making a multidimensional

exploration of the same unit and thus enrich the knowledge pertaining to a

particular case for further use in policy forrnulations. When a case study is

undertaken, some of the areas of research may not have occurred to the

researcher's mind and the very case study, may open out new avenues of

research where fruitful investigations can be undertaken either by the same

researcher or other researchers (Gupta, 2005).


An inquiry into the past in a systematic manner is what we call historical

research. It helps us to understand why, how and when past events occurred,

which in turn aids anticipation of future developments in any field of activities

affecting decision making in the present set up. Historical method in Library and

Information Science can be applied to write the biography of a person or in the

development of a library during a particular period, or to record the history of

libraries in a country, or history of development of a library technique. (IGNOU,


In the present study historical method is used to study the growlh of

collection and development of different library services by studying the Annual

Reports of Assam University, the accession registers, the files maintained in the

different sections of the library.


Documentary analysis research involves the use of texts and documents

as source materials, government publications, newspapers, certificates, census

publications, novels, film and video, paintings, personal photographs, diaries and

innumerable other written, visual and pictorial sources in paper, electronic or

other hard copy form. Along with surveys and ethnography, documentary

research is one of the major types of social research. The process of

documentary research often involves some or all of conceptualizing, using and

assessing documents. The analysis of the documents in documentary research

would be either quantitative or qualitative analysis (Choudhury, 2012).

In the present study different documents were consulted such as Amiual

Reports, Accession Registers, Due Date labels of the documents which are meant

for issue to the users of the library and these were analyzed accordingly.


Survey research is a method of gathering empirical data regarding certain

phenomenon, process or object in a systematic way so as to interpret them in a

broader perspective for generalizations. Survey research is commonly used in

Library and Information Science. However it is used differently in different

contexts. Survey method here includes (IGNOU, 2000):

• Library Survey to ascertain the resources and services of the library and

its growth from the time of its inception.

• Users' Survey to determine the utilization of library resources, their

information need and their level of satisfaction with the resources of the

library. These two aspects of survey method is used in the present study.


The study is mainly divided into four parts:

• Collection development of Assam University Library since its


• Information needs and seeking behavior of the users of Assam

University Library.

• Collection use evaluation and

• Library services provided and their use by the users of the library.

To study all these four aspects related to the library services both primary

and secondary sources were used for the collection of data.

Primary Sources: The Primary Sources of data used in the study are the users of

Assam University Library which includes the faculty members, the research

scholars and the students of Assam University, Silchar. To collect data regarding

the information needs and as well as use of Library services including the

collection, questionnaires were made use of.

Secondary Sources: The secondary data consulted for the study were mostly the

internal records of the library which included:

• Annual Reports of Assam University from 1994 to 2012.

• Accession Registers 1994-2012.

• Yearly Circulation Statistics.

• Due date attached to books.

• Photocopying Requisition Slips.

• User Entry Registers maintained at different sections.


The sample of the study consisted of the users of Assam University Library. The

users involved undergraduate and postgraduate students, research scholars, both

MPhil and PhD, and faculty members. The sample size was taken to be 500 and

accordingly 500 questionnaires were distributed among the users. The

distribution was done by random sampling, the sample being at large the users

who visited the library. Out of 500 questionnaires 470 duly filled up

questionnaires were returned resulting to 94% response rate.


Following tools were prepared for collection of data:

• Questionnaire,

• Observation; and

• Study of Library Records.

Questionnaire: Questionnaire was used as the tool for collection of relevant

data from the users of Assam University Library, Silchar. The use of

questionnaire is an impersonal technique. The method ensures anonymity.

Information used through this method is more valid and reliable (Good, 1966).

According to Borgarding, 'a questionnaire is a list of questions sent to a number

of persons for them to answer. It secures standardized results that can be

tabulated and treated statistically'. The questionnaire method occupies an

important place in educational research for various reasons, such as:

• The questions, which are included in the list of questionnaire, are

standardized. The questions are real and create interest in the infomiants.

• This is an indirect method of collection of data.

• By this method, a respondent acquires some knowledge about many

fields that were unknown to him.

• In this method, the researcher or investigator does not have to make any

administrative arrangements.

• The method is economical.

• Through this method, a vast area and population can be studied easily.

(Bhattacharyya, 2004)

A Structured questionnaire was prepared to find the information needs

and seeking behavior of users as well as the use of library collections and

services of Assam University Library. The questionnaire of Choukhande

(2008) were referred to and designed with suggestions from the Supervisor.

The questionnaire consisted of both factual and opinion questions. Most of the

questions are closed-ended or structured in nature. The last part of the

questionnaire was kept open for the users to opine their views and suggestions.

The questionnaire consisted of 5 sections or parts.

• General Information

• Information needs of users

• Information gathering behavior of users

• Constraints faced by the users

• Suggestions.

The general information part of the questionnaire comprises 3 items

such as category-wise, age-wise and sex-wise distribution of respondents. The

second part contains information regarding different types of information

sources used to meet the needs of the users, extent of needs met by the

collection of the library, use of electronic sources of information, use of

internet facility of the library, success in getting required materials from

different sources. The third part i.e. information seeking behavior consists of

items like frequency of visit to the library, purpose of visit to the library, use

of library services, level of satisfaction, reasons of dissatisfaction. The fourth

parts i.e. constraints faced by the users consists of information barrier

constraints, difficulties in locating suitable sources of interest, reasons for

facing problems in locating information sources and lastly suggestions from

the users.

The rating scale in the questionnaire used is a two point scale of 'yes'

or 'no' and 'satisfactory' or 'unsatisfactory'. A three point scale of'adequate',

'inadequate' or 'partially adequate' is also used in some questions. More than

three options were provided for a few questions to get appropriate answers.


Observation method as a tool for data collection is widely used in Social

Sciences and other field as well. Usually four types of observation are

undertaken by investigators (IGNOU, 2007), These are:

• Participant observation where the observer actively participates with

the activities of the group under study without making other

members know that their activities are closely observed by someone.

• Non-participant observation in which the observer does not take part

in the activities of the group and simply observes them from a


• Non-controlled observation where observations are made in natural

surroundings and the activities are performed without being

influenced and guided by any external force.

• Controlled observation which is exercised on the phenomenon as

well as on the observation where the phenomenon may be observed

for days together.

In the present study non-participant and controlled observation method is

used to study the day to day behavior of the users of the library regarding their

use of library resources.

Study of Library Records;

In the present study Library Records like Accession Registers, Annual

Reports which contains annual account of the library, User record registers

maintained by the Periodical section of the library, due date slips attached to

books, photocopy requisition slips. Periodical & Acquisition files etc. were

extensively studied to find the growth of the collection, subject-wise growth of

collection, amount spent annually in purchasing and subscribing library

documents, issue/ return statistics, use of the collection and different services

provided by the library etc.


500 questionnaires were distributed in the 1*' phase to the different

departments of the University and in the 2"'' phase to the users who visited the

library. In the I'" phase the response rate was very low. In the 2"*" phase the

researcher personally distributed questionnaires among the users within the

library premises. The response rate was quite satisfactory inspite of the

unwillingness from users who did not want to spend their time in filling up the

questionnaires. Observation method was used to study the use of library

resources and services which was done observing the day to day behavior and

use pattern of the users of the library during the period of study i.e. from 2009-

2012. The existing records of the library as mentioned above were thoroughly

studied to gather information regarding the collection of the library and use of

library resources and services.

The data collected from the questionnaires and existing records and other

secondary sources are tabulated and analyzed using simple percentage

techniques and the results are shown through graphical representations.

Accordingly findings are listed in the last chapter of the study.

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