Fall 2005

Course syllabus    

Tefko Saracevic

Room 316 SCILS bldg.
Work: (732)932-7500/Ext 8222; Fax: (732)932-2644

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Critical examination of the evolution of information science and librarianship. Problems addressed over time. Approaches, methods and trends in research. Disciplinary and interdisciplinary relationships. Seminal authors and works.  

Goals and Objectives

The goals are to provide the students with:

    1. an understanding of the evolution structure, nature and environment of information science and librarianship;
    2. an ability for critical analysis of works and trends in information science and librarianship; and
    3. a basis for choosing and/or evaluating their own research.

The objectives are to:

    1. undertake a historical overview of information science and librarianship, and the social, political and technological factors and critical events that affected their evolution;
    2. provide a perspective on the phenomena and processes of interest to information science and librarianship;
    3. outline the problems and issues addressed over time and contemporarily in research, stressing the approaches, theoretical frameworks and models, and methods used;
    4. discern the contemporary structures, and identify disciplinary and interdisciplinary relationships of information science and librarianship; and
    5. identify and analyze seminal works and authors within information science, librarianship and related fields that had a significant impact on research and professional practice.


While there are no courses required as direct prerequisites for this seminar, the students are expected to have a basic knowledge related to:

    1. Concepts of information and communication (such as covered in 17:610:510; or 16:194:601) It is advised that Ph.D. students take this seminar concurrently with or after 16:194:601 Information and Communication Processes.
    2. Information and communication technologies (such as covered in 17:610:550).
    3. Information representation and information retrieval (such as covered in 17:610:520 or 17:194:617).

A student does not actually have to take the listed courses as prerequisites; however, it is assumed that the student is familiar with the basic subject matter and competencies covered in these courses. The knowledge and competencies could have been gained from similar courses, through professional practice and/or independent study. In the case a student does not have a background in any one of these topics, an extensive reading of basic texts in the topic is required prior to or at the outset of the seminar.

This seminar is a prerequisite for other seminars and courses in the Ph.D. areas of concentration Information Science and Library Science.  

Approach and Requirements

The seminar consists of:

  1. Lectures: by course instructors or guest lecturers. The topics of lectures are provided in the course outline and schedule. A detailed description of topics covered in each lecture can be found in the syllabus, or a description and handouts will be provided at the lecture.

  2. Discussion: each student is expected to participate in discussions and critical observations either during the lectures or during set discussion periods that particularly relate to analysis or readings.

  3. Required and selected readings and summaries: for each topic there will be assigned several required readings. In addition, for each topic students shall select one additional reading of their own choice either from the Bibliography or from the literature in general. For each reading (required and selected) the student will prepare a short summary and critical review. The summaries will be submitted according to a schedule provided at the beginning of the semester.
    The goal of the summaries is not only for a student to reinforce learning the content of the reading by writing, but even more so to critically evaluate and/or relate the content (or part thereof) to own context, experiences, and other readings and learning. Summaries are not intended to be mere abstracts. In other words, think about the reading, assess the major theme(s), and provide your own interpretations and thoughts beyond a mere abstract. Analyze don't just plain recapitulate! The more you incorporate your own remarks the higher the grade! Thus, the emphasis is not on the summary by and for itself but on critical evaluation and/or drawing of relations. Higher grades in summaries relate to the extent to which contents are critically evaluated or to which relations are drawn, and not to mere repetitions of contents.
    The summaries must follow the prescribed format (see instructions below). Reading summaries should be handed in on a weekly basis as indicated by the schedule.

  4. Semester project: Each student shall select a research topic or issue.covered in the course for an in-depth study of related works and produce a critical, scholarly review, in a form of a journal article, as if it is prepared for a submission to a journal. Each student is encouraged in thinking of submitting this paper to a journal of his or her choice; thus the style of that journal should be followed. The syllabus and readings can serve as a guide in selection of topic to be covered; some of the papers read and summarized are such critical reviews. By definition, the paper shall involve a thorough literature search; however, it must NOT be relegated to a simple bibliographic essay of literature review/rehash - who said what. The paper should elaborate on:
    1. critical examination of major points in contents of selected topics, organized according to some common problem areas addressed, and/or theories or models employed;
    2. relationships between different studies, approaches, or research areas and/ or between underlying theories or modelsif applicable;
    3. general relationships between studies in the selected topic(s) and broader studies of librarianship, information science, communication, or information as covered in these or other fields (for instance in: cognitive science, artificial intelligence, computer science, management, sociology, history, gender studies, cultural studies, and other fields or research areas where libraries, information systems, communication or information are considered);
    4. suggestions for further research or more applicable models or theories; this may take a form of design of a study in the reviewed topic.

Early in selection of the topic the student shall obtain consent and advice from the instructor, to insure appropriateness and fruitfulness of the chosen topic, and to avoid unnecessary grief afterwards. At scheduled times during the semester students shall present: (1) a short description of the preliminary selection of the topic to be covered in the term paper, (2) a preliminary bibliography of literature covered, and (3) a final presentation of the topic as if prepared for a conference presentation.

By the way, the same critical review approach is required for successful completion in answering a question in the qualifying exam, or in preparation for the dissertation proposal. This is a general approach to any scholarly review and any preparation for research. For suggestions on the content and organization of a proposal see "Thesis proposal questions" on class web site.   


The narrative style of the summary is left to the student. However, each summary MUST have as a heading (i.e. on top or the cover page):

    1. studentís name,
    2. course number,
    3. assignment number from the schedule, and
    4. for each reading a full citation of the reading.

Summaries should be handed in per assigned schedule. Summaries that do not have headings and citation form as prescribed will have five points deducted.

The summaries and term paper should follow the standardized format as suggested by:

American Psychological Association (APA) (2001). Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: APA. See:

It is strongly suggested that all students purchase this book. The Manual can be obtained from Rutgers and other bookstores or ordered online. It serves as a manual for other Ph.D. courses and the dissertation, thus it is a valuable tool above and beyond this course. In addition to providing standards for formats, references and citations, the Manual also provides useful suggestions for writing and organizing of reports and articles.  


Graduate School and SCILS PhD program has the following grades (see SCILS Catalog at
A (95), B+ (90), B (85), C+ (80), C (75), F (70). In addition, there are provisional grades for Incomplete (IN) or Temporary (T).
heir own resreach
The final grade will be derived as follows:
Summaries, exercises, discussion - 60% of grade. Term paper - 40% of grade.  


The Rutgers Policy on Academic Integrity is spelled out in detail at In this course we will strictly adhere to this policy. Please consult it. If you have any questions please bring them up. You may also wish to consult Student Responsibility at and Faculty Responsibility at

Plagiarism? Just don't. Turnitin, a site for prevention of plagiarism is at It is informative and useful.


(NOTE: Topics describe general subject coverage for the course, but they may not be presented in the order listed here; in additon, guest lecturers may change/add topics according to their own research)

Part I. ORIGIN, PROBLEMS, RELATIONS 1. Social and historical contexts and forces. Social role of knowledge records and information.

2. Historical overview of information science and librarianship. Problems addressed over time. Role and impact of technology. Contemporary problems addressed. Disciplinary and interdisciplinary relationships through problems.

Part II. BASIC PHENOMENA 3. Notions of information and knowledge records - documents. Nature of information structures. Bibliometrics as method of study of information structures.

4. Human information behavior. Cognitive aspects and individual use of information and knowledge records. Information seeking. Reading research. Social aspects and social use of information.

5. Notions of relevance in information science and classification of knowledge in librarianship.

Part III. SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES 6. Selection and organization of knowledge and knowledge records. Human and automatic represeentation (indexing, classification, clustering, associating, linking). Text processing. Knowledge management.

7. Information retrieval - theories, models, algorithms. Information retrieval databases; networks. Online Public Access Catalogs (OPACs). Information retrieval in the Web context.

8. Digital libraries; types approaches, services. Broadening of the concept of a "library." Relations to publishing, and information systems. Context of technology.

9. Searching, filtering. Reference. Interaction, mediation, reception. Human-human and human-computer interaction in information retrieval and libraries.

Part IV. PERFORMANCE OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SERVICES 10. Measures of performance for information retrieval systems and libraries. Methods for evaluation. Role of economics - costs and cost benefits. Notions and estimation of value and utility of information, and of information and library services.

11. Various approaches to evaluation of performance and impact of libraries and information retrieval systems: historical, ethnographic, technological, systems, users, economical, organizational, social. Evaluation requirements for systems approach.


12. Education for library and information science.

Bibliography for the course, organized according to topics as listed above, is provided as a separate listing.

last update 6 September 2005 Tefko Saracevic