Transaction Logs and Focus Groups as Data Collection Methods Essay

Transaction Logs and Focus Groups as Data Collection Methods Essay

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Research in Library Science is conducted in many areas covering multiple questions, but one thing shared is data collection. Qualitative and quantitative information to support the question at hand are necessary to validate the needs or phenomenon or trends (Wildemuth, 2009). Transaction logs and focus groups are two valuable data collection techniques.
Transaction Logs
Whenever a person logs onto and begins to use a computer in the library, different kinds of information are automatically collected into transaction logs (Jansen, 2006). Sullenger (1997) recommends transaction logs “be examined by librarians to analyze how patrons use the catalog, what features they are using, and to see what areas of searching are problematic” (p. 21). Data can also be collected on “items viewed, sessions, site penetration; time online, users (trace evidence of, not individual information), navigational information” (Nicholas, Huntington, Jamali & Tenopir, 2006, p. 121). These data pieces provide useful information on usage patterns (Das & Turkoglu, 2009).
Transaction logs can be generated in two ways. The first is from the server’s side. These logs include data typically already collected on in-house. Data can also originate client-side using a specifically-written program to collect from the participants’ computers (Wildemuth, 2009). The former is more often used due to the abundance of data and less-costly features. Jansen (2006) describes a three step process to using transaction logs: data collection for a given period of time, preparing the data, and data analysis. He further breaks analysis into three parts: term, query, and session.
A major benefit to using transaction logs is that this is data already collected and waiting to ...

... middle of paper ...

...groups: Continuities and discontinuities. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 51 (4), 550-566.
Morrison, H. (1997). Information literacy skills: An exploratory focus group study of student perceptions. Research Strategies, 15 (1), 4-17.
Nicholas, D., Huntington, P., Jamali, H. R. & Tenopir, C. (2006). Finding information in (very large) digital libraries: A deep log approach to determining differences in use according to method of access. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 32 (2), 119-126.
Shoaf, E. C. (2003). Using a professional moderator in library focus group research. Colleges & Research Libraries, 64 (2), 124-132.
Sullenger, P. (1997). A serials transaction log analysis. Serials Review, 23 (3), 21-26.
Wildemuth, B. M. (2009). Applications of social research methods to questions in information and library science. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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