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College & Research Libraries Guide for Authors & Reviewers

Title

While it’s tempting to pen a catchy title, boring is better. Remember that the title field is frequently searched by discovery services and other online search tools. Using trendy slang or a punchy quotation as your main title makes it harder for readers to find your work. Instead, include keywords that are common to the topic.

Examples of clearly worded titles:

Jannette L. Finch and Angela R. Flenner. Using Data Visualization to Examine an Academic Library Collection.  

Linda R. Musser and Barbara M. Coopey. Impact of a Discovery System on Interlibrary Loan

Use sub-titles only when they provide important additional information.

Examples of helpful sub-titles:

Wenzler, John. Scholarly Communication and the Dilemma of Collective Action: Why Academic Journals Cost Too Much

Robinson, Shannon Marie. Artists as Scholars: The Research Behavior of Dance Faculty.

Abstract

Manuscripts submitted to C&RL must include 75-100 word abstracts. According to the NISO Guidelines for Abstracts, “Informative abstracts . . . state the purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions presented in the original document.” The abstract will appear at the beginning of your published article, and it may also be included in online discovery services and article databases. It is important, therefore, to include relevant keywords and concepts in the abstract.

For more tips on preparing your abstract, see: wikiHow to Write an Abstract.

Examples of well written abstracts:

Budd, John M. Faculty Publications and Citations: A Longitudinal Examination.

Musser, Linda R., and Barbara M. Coopey. Impact of a Discovery System on Interlibrary Loan.

Perruso, Carol. Undergraduates’ Use of Google vs. Library Resources: A Four-Year Cohort Study.

Introduction/Statement of Problem

The Introduction section can be as short as a paragraph or considerably longer, depending on how much background is necessary to set the stage for the remaining sections. This section may preview the scope and organization of what follows. It explains the context for the research problem and the author’s motivation to pursue it. If the topic is controversial or very new, the Introduction may argue for its relevance. Conversely, if the topic has been covered extensively in the literature already, the Introduction might explain how the present article involves a new perspective, an unexplored angle, or a novel method.

The Introduction may be labelled as such or left without a heading. (All subsequent sections REQUIRE headings.)

The problem statement may be framed as a hypothesis [LINK TO DEFINITION?] or simply as a research question [LINK TO DEFINITION?] to be explored and answered.

Example of a short, succinct introduction:

DeSanto, Dan, and Aaron Nichols. Scholarly Metrics Baseline: A Survey of Faculty Knowledge, Use, and Opinion about Scholarly Metrics

Example of a longer introduction:

Tran, Clara Y., and Jennifer A Lyon. Faculty Use of Author Identifiers and Researcher Networking Tools

Literature Review

Google “how to write a lit review” and you’ll discover many definitions and explanations. Literature review sections in C&RL:

  • Are grounded in a very thorough search of the literature of LIS as well as related disciplines as needed.

  • Focus on the subject of the article and/or research project, as well as relevant background information.

  • Summarize the key characteristics (e.g. methods and findings) of prior research on the topic.

  • Point out gaps in the literature or deficiencies in prior research, thus making a case for the relevance of your own study.

  • Contextualize, compare, and evaluate publications, rather than merely describe them.

  • Discuss the literature in a coherent way, e.g. by sub-topics or chronologically, as dictated by the topic.

Examples of well-organized literature reviews:

Michael C. Goates, Gregory M. Nelson, and Megan Frost. Search Strategy Development in a Flipped Library Classroom: A Student-Focused Assessment.

Le Yang. Metadata Effectiveness in Internet Discovery: An Analysis of Digital Collection Metadata Elements and Internet Search Engine Keywords.

Methods

The Methods section should be detailed enough to permit replication of your study. Include all of the following if they apply to your research:

  • The nature and size of the population or data set, and why it was chosen.

  • The source of the population or data set and how it was obtained.

    • For example, if the data comes from surveys, how were respondents identified and recruited? How was the survey distributed? What was the response rate?

  • The techniques or tests used to analyze the data.

    • If the method is not one typically applied in LIS, include a brief explanation or reference an explanatory text or previous uses of it.

    • If appropriate, mention the software used for analysis.

  • Time frame for data collection and analysis.

Examples of well-described methods:

Michael C. Goates, Gregory M. Nelson, and Megan Frost. Search Strategy Development in a Flipped Library Classroom: A Student-Focused Assessment.

Dan DeSanto and Aaron Nichols. Scholarly Metrics Baseline: A Survey of Faculty Knowledge, Use, and Opinion about Scholarly Metrics.

Results (or Findings)

The Results section presents the findings with minimal interpretation. The results of quantitative research can often be presented most economically through graphs, charts, and tables, since complex, detailed statistical explanations can be hard to follow in the text.

Examples of clearly presented results:

Click, Amanda B., Claire Walker Wiley, and Meggan Houlihan. The Internationalization of the Academic Library: A Systematic Review of 25 Years of Literature on International Students.

Latham, Don, and Melissa Gross. Instructional Preferences of First-Year College Students with Below-Proficient Information Literacy Skills: A Focus Group Study.

Discussion

The Discussion section interprets the findings and highlights meaningful results. It identifies any limitations in the study, such as small sample size and/or response and unknown variables that might influence the results. It makes recommendations for practical application of the findings and/or further research. The Discussion section is sometimes merged with the Conclusion.

Examples of thoughtful and readable discussions:

Budd, John M. Faculty Publications and Citations: A Longitudinal Examination.

Schaub, Gayle, Cara Cadena, Patricia Bravender, and Christopher Kierkus. The Language of Information Literacy: Do Students Understand?

Conclusion

The Conclusion may be short a short wrap-up, reiterating the major findings and their significance. The Conclusion section is sometimes merged with the Discussion.

Examples of well written conclusions:

Dempsey, Paula R. “Are You a Computer?” Opening Exchanges in Virtual Reference Shape the Potential for Teaching.

Latham, Don, and Melissa Gross. Instructional Preferences of First-Year College Students with Below-Proficient Information Literacy Skills: A Focus Group Study.

References

C&RL follows The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. for the formatting of references. For example:

Larry R. Oberg, Mary Kay Schleiter, and Michael Van Houten, “Faculty Perceptions of Librarians at Albion College: Status, Role, Contribution, and Contacts,” College & Research Libraries 50 (Mar. 1989): 215–30.

Subsequent references to the same work should utilize surname, brief title, and page reference. If no other reference intervenes, use “Ibid.” Do not underline “Ibid.” Do not use “op. cit.” or “loc. cit.” For citations to book or journal page numbers, use 217–19 not p. 217–19. For example:

Oberg, Schleiter, and Van Houten, “Faculty Perceptions,” 217–19.

Consult the Chicago Manual of Style or past issues of C&RL for models for citing archival materials, websites, and other media.

Appendices

Appended materials provide background to help readers understand the study. Copies of questionnaires and other research tools are often placed in appendices so that readers can replicate the research on their own campuses.

Example of useful appendices:

Khoo, Michael J., Lily Rozaklis, Catherine Hall, and Diana Kusunoki. “A Really Nice Spot”: Evaluating Place, Space, and Technology in Academic Libraries.