This final post on the introductory theme of “The Literature” turns attention to a resource containing a high concentration of articles on information behavior.
Information Research (IR) is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to “making accessible the results of research across a wide range of information-related disciplines.” It is privately published by Professor T.D. Wilson, professor emeritus of the University of Sheffield, with in-kind support from Lund University Libraries and the Swedish School of Library and Information Science.
The subject index of IR lists 65 articles on information behavior, not to mention others within the related topics of information need, information seeking behavior, and information use.
According to Professor Wilson, with whom I recently spoke at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting in New Orleans, IR is associated with information behavior scholarship because it has published the proceedings of the Information Seeking in Context conference since 2004. (Students, this is a fantastic development; earlier proceedings were only available in an expensive and hard-to-come-by print volume.)
Here are quick links to the ISIC materials:
· Fifth ISIC conference, Dublin, 2004, Information Research, Volume 10, Number 1 and Number 2
· Sixth ISIC conference, Sydney, 2006, Information Research, Volume 11, Number 4 and Volume 12, Number 1
· Seventh ISIC conference, Vilnius, 2008, Information Research, Volume 13, Number 4
· Eighth ISIC conference, Murcia, 2010, Information Research, Volume 15, Number 4 and Volume 16 Number 1
In addition to the ISIC proceedings, through the years IR has been the site of important developments in our research community. The journal hosted an exchange between Professor Wilson and Reijo Savolainen about “the behaviour/practice debate .” As well, Marcia Bates’ writings that sparked a public exchange with Birger Hjørland have appeared in IR (see my prior post, Message #4 – Newsflash, for an overview of this issue). Information Research has also significantly expanded the information behavior specialty around the world by its open access, international editorial board and associates, and decision to publish articles in languages other than English.
The next theme is “The History” and will be a riveting survey of foundational publications on information behavior that all devotees of the topic should know and love.
The whirlwind of the ASIS&T annual meeting has passed. It was great to have SIG-USErs altogether at so many excellent sessions. This post forges onward through The Literature of information behavior and focuses on a resource that is very special to SIG-USE.
It is the handbook Theories of Information Behavior (Fisher, Erdelez, & McKechnie, 2005) or TIB, for short. A handbook is a reference genre that places emphasis on “how to” directions. The content of a handbook is much more concisely written than a journal article or encyclopedia entry. In this case, TIB contains succinct introductions to metatheories, theories, and models of information behavior. The preface states it is intended as “a researcher’s guide, a practical overview of both well-established and newly proposed conceptual frameworks that one may use to study different aspects of information behavior” (p. xx).
TIB is special because it was produced by SIG-USE in an unprecedented, grassroots, collaborative effort. The three editors Karen Fisher, Sanda Erdelez, and Lynne E. F. McKechnie are über-dynamic scholars in the heyday of their academic careers. Utilizing an early version of this SIG-USE mailing list they invited community members to nominate and then write-up theories for inclusion. Submissions were peer-reviewed and the collection was published by Information Today. Proceeds from the sales of TIB are channelled back into SIG-USE and its awards program.
The handbook opens with introductory statements by Marcia J. Bates, Brenda Dervin, and Tom Wilson. Next are entries on 72 individual metatheories/theories/models by an expert and/or enthusiast. Each short article addresses origins, propositions, methodological implications, use, related conceptual frameworks, and authoritative primary and secondary references. You will encounter oldies-but-goodies (Anomalous State of Knowledge, Berrypicking, Information Search Process, Sense-Making) as well as novel approaches (Symbolic Violence, Women’s Ways of Knowing, Bandura’s Social Cognition). Here are illustrated instructions from an editor on how to use TIB.
This is a great handbook for scholars, educators, students, and research-minded practitioners, too. When not on my shelf of information behavior books, it has a place on my desk.
Next week’s post is the last about The Literature of information behavior. We have reconnoitered a great encyclopedia, annual literature review, textbook, and handbook. What will be covered in the last post? Stay tuned! If you think any literature-related resource(s) has been overlooked, this SIG-USE mailing list is the place to squawk.
Fisher, K. E., Erdelez S., & McKechnie, E. F. (Eds.) (2005). Theories of Information Behavior. Medford, NJ: Information Today.
Jenna Hartel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto