ARST 591 (3) Archival Research and Scholarship


MLIS students: Completion of the MLIS Core courses, plus permission of the instructor

MAS and Dual students: Completion of the “Term 1” MAS Core courses

GOAL: The purpose of this course is to introduce the theory and practice of research methods used in archives and related information-based organizations. The course recognizes that research is carried out in many different ways and contexts and is essential to moving the archival discipline and profession(s) forward. With the idea that every archivist, records professional and/or archival scholar should know how to think about, conduct and assess research in order to make good decisions and develop new ideas and practices, this course aims to empower students to think and act with a research mindset.

The course also recognizes that all research (like archives) is contextual. Research questions arise and research is conducted in particular contexts (institutional, cultural, social, personal, etc.). Contextual factors influence: the identification of research problems; the participation and behaviour of people (researchers and researched); systemic and structural constraints and opportunities; biases/perspectives of researchers and researched; institutional expectations, etc. This course will prepare students to approach research in a self-reflexive and context-aware manner and will emphasize the ethical dimensions of all stages of the research process.


Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Discuss and critically reflect on the roles that research plays (or can play) in the archives and record-keeping disciplines and professions [3.2]
  • Identify and describe basic elements of archival, humanities and social science research methods and their applications in the archival discipline and profession(s) [3.2]
  • Analyze and assess research and scholarship related to records and archives [3.1]
  • Prepare a detailed research plan including problem identification and selection, development of research questions, literature review, and methodological design, including a plan for data collection and analysis [3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 1.5]
  • Identify, understand and discuss how to address ethical issues related to research by, for and about archives and record-keepers [1.4]
  • Adopt a self-reflexive stance and articulate how social location, values and beliefs and personal experiences influence research orientations and approaches [1.5]

* Student learning outcomes reference the MAS Program Learning Outcomes


  • The role of research in the archival discipline and records professions
  • The application of research findings in scholarly, institutional and community settings
  • Research epistemologies and approaches
  • The archival method
  • Social science and humanities research models and their application to specific methodological designs
  • The research process: the identification and evaluation of research problems and agendas; the relationship between research problems, methods and design; methods for data collection and analysis; etc.
  • Research ethics
  • Citation practices
  • Knowledge mobilization
  • Collaborative and community-based approaches to research
  • Indigenous research methods
  • Self-reflexive research practice
  • Critical archival studies
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