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).
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When information is uniform, data from multiple systems can be compared (Sullenger, 1997). Quite a few challenges to using transaction logs exist. The first is the extreme amount of data available. The data have to be cleaned to rid the files of extraneous and incomplete information (Das & Turkoglu, 2009; Sullenger, 1997). The data are complex and take a great deal of time and effort to analyze (Jansen, 2006). Coding has to be developed and applied to see the patterns (Wildemuth, 2009). Due to this complexity, researchers need to carefully define terms and measuring devices (Jansen). Transaction logs can be used in a variety of ways but some common ones are developing useful web page design (Das & Turkoglu, 2009), search engine usage (Jansen & Spike, 2006; Sullenger, 1997), as well as searching digital libraries and identifying browsing patterns (Nicholas, Huntington, Jarnali & Tenopir). Overall, the researcher is looking for algorithms and patterns that naturally generate from computer or system usage in the library. If a topic involves human interaction with the computer or library system, without knowledge needed of why the interaction occurred, then using transaction logs is a good choice.
Transaction Logs Example Boter and Wedel (2005) used transaction logs to analyze library collection organization in a section of the Netherlands. Their specific focus was “fiction books aimed at adults” (p. 192) with the intent

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