16th Distance Library Services Conference: Standards for Writing Papers

URL: https://libguides.cmich.edu/dls2014

Important Dates

January 8, 2014 Registration opens
April 9, 2014 Registration closes
April 23, 2014 Conference begins

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Standards for Writing Papers for the Distance Library Services Conference

General Standards:

Papers should follow a standard structure using an introduction, body, and conclusion:

  • The introduction should stimulate the reader’s interest, explain the issue to be discussed and the broader context of the issue, state the author’s thesis or purpose, and summarize the main sections of the argument or discussion to follow in the body.  

  • The body of the paper should support the argument or discussion identified in the introduction by presenting ideas, facts, examples, and other evidence that will lead the reader to understand the author’s thesis. 

  • The conclusion should sum up the paper’s thesis and the evidence presented to support it. The conclusion may also call for actions based on the information presented, identify future directions for research or practice, and/or place the paper’s thesis within the broader context of the issue.

Each paper should demonstrate an objective and scholarly approach to writing. Papers should always be written in the third person.

The title of the paper should appropriately reflect the main theme, issue, or information discussed in the paper. An ideal title piques the reader’s interest in the topic of the paper. 

Each paper should include evidence of a literature search and familiarity with current literature relevant to both the thesis and the broader context in which the issue exists. Two key questions to be asked in this connection are:

  • What have others said about the issue or topic?
  • How is this particular thesis different from what others have discussed in the literature?

Each paper should contain citations to relevant or appropriate literature and include a list of references at the end.

Specific Types of Papers:

Conference papers will generally fall into one of the following four categories:

Authors should decide into which category the paper will fit. In other words, is its primary purpose to:

  • Describe practices at a specific institution?
  • Report the results of a research study?
  • Describe and discuss current issues or practices in a general sense?
  • Provide instruction to the reader?

Case Studies:

A case study is a paper that describes initiatives, services, or practices at a specific institution or group of institutions (e.g. a consortium or a collaborative endeavor). 

Case studies provide an opportunity to apply theory to practice. A case study is often an example of something more general, such as solving a problem in service planning or streamlining the delivery of services. A case study should focus on:

  • A body of theory or knowledge.
  • A problem or challenge within this wider context.
  • What others have said or done about this or a similar challenge.
  • The implications of not meeting the challenge or solving the problem.
  • How the institution has approached the situation and met the challenge.
  • How this solution contributes to the body of theory or the wider context.
  • What variables need to be addressed in order for the institution move forward?
  • What factors the readers should consider in order to benefit from the institution’s experiences (i.e. lessons learned).
  • Future directions for enhancing theory and/or practice in this area.

Background information should be kept minimal, providing just enough detail for the reader to obtain a brief overview of the institution, its operation, and the context in which the study exists. Institutional statistics should only be provided in brief summary form to enable the reader get a general sense of the size or quantity being discussed. Extensive tables of statistics should be avoided in case studies.

Examples of forms, web pages, agreements, policies, and other documents should be included in or appended to case studies with discretion. All such examples should be directly relevant to the main themes of the paper and be kept to a manageable quantity. It is generally more appropriate to include a minimal number of reproductions and provide the readers with URLs for related electronic sources. 

Research Papers:

Research papers either report the results of quantitative or qualitative studies or review published research sources to build an argument or thesis. The former is most often used in conference papers. A paper reporting research results is generally structured as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methodology, including:
    • Sampling techniques, target population, respondent profile
    • Data collection methods
    • Measurement techniques
  • Results or findings, including:
    • Descriptive statistics
    • Hypothesis testing
  • Discussion, including:
    • Summary of findings
    • Implications for practice
    • Limitations of the study
    • Recommendations for further research.

A research paper should focus on:

  • A body of theory or knowledge.
  • The study of an issue or practice that will contribute towards enhancing this body of theory or knowledge.
  • How the study relates to other studies in the same area.

For a conference paper, the results of a research study should be presented like an academic journal article but with less detail. Tables of statistics and statistical analysis should be included in limited quantities and summarized wherever possible.

Hybrid Case Studies / Research Papers:

Occasionally, an author attempts to combine a case study with a research paper (for example, describing an institution’s practices as well as reporting the results of a study conducted at that institution). Whenever possible, this hybrid approach should be avoided.

If the hybrid approach is necessary to the author’s central thesis or purpose, the paper should be treated primarily as a case study with a section that is structured as a mini-research paper (containing methodology, results, and discussion). In the conclusion, it should be demonstrated how the study and its results contribute to the author’s central thesis or purpose and its wider context.

State-of-the-Art Papers and How-to Papers:

State-of-the-art papers include literature reviews, analytical essays, and descriptions of new products or services that may not have been well covered in the literature to date. 

How-to papers primarily provide instruction to the reader or suggest techniques for dealing with a particular type of issue or situation.

These two types of papers may draw on examples of practices at various institutions but do not focus on any one specific institution.

The general comments at the beginning of this document apply to these types of papers. In cases where there is little or no directly relevant library literature available to draw upon (e.g. descriptions of new products and services), every attempt should be made by the author to cite from general works that are related to the topic or to find and cite relevant literature from other disciplines.

As with the other two types, these papers should convey to the reader:

  • How does the information relate to an existing body of knowledge?
  • What is unique about the information in this paper?
  • How can it benefit the reader?
  • How can it benefit the profession?

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