Artemis Takes Aim

Notes on Case Ch 10 & 13

Ch 10
History and development of ISB literature

Charles Eliot (1902) wrote about the used and unused portions of a library's collection (Poole, 1985) other opinions of the first, but this is earliest

Antecedents of information behavior research lie in the early investigations of library use. (272)

Turning point: Berelson (1949) report on "The library's public"

Expansion of breadth and role: Westley & Barrow (1959)

1950s and 1960s: research into information needs and uses escalated, mostly focusing on literature in science and engineering

1966 ARIST began to include comprehensive reviews on the topic, which scholars called information behavior

Waldhart (1975) bibliography: "communnication research in library and information science" reviewed the literature from 1964-73 and emphasized communication among workers in science, technology, and social science

Then there was a lull, except for Wilson (1981) "user studies and information needs" in Journal of Documentation, which was highly influential in encouraging qualitative research in information behavior. (273)

comprehensive ARIST chapters reappeared with 1986 Dervin & Nilan; then a bunch of more specialized reviews until 2006 Case and 2009 Fisher & Julien.

He goes through some reviews on peripheral topics (274), including Pettigrew's "Conceptual frameworks used in information behavior research" (2001) and Wang's "Methodologies and methods for user behavioral research" (2001), which may both be helpful for my projects.

Goes through estimating the number of ISB articles to demonstrate an escalating growth rate: ~3,000 from 1980-2011

See Wilson (2008a, p. 462) for characterization of "information searching" subfield.

Information Seeking in Context conferences also promote research in the field (1996-2012)

Contexts and categories
Dervin (1997, p.14) on defining contextwhen research is focused on relationships, then factors describing the situation can become context
Savolainen (1993, p. 17): "the term situation refers to time-space context in which sense is constructed."
Johnson on context: 3 progressively complex senses:
positivist, specifying factors in which a process is immersed
post-positivist, specifying factors that moderate relationships
post-modern, as frameworks of meaning in which the individual is inseparable from the context

Shift from use of channels and sources-->an emphasis on the encountering and seeking of information and the interpretation of meaning from that information (279)

Other researchers have used various categories in their research designs. Case selects the common elements:
occupation (profession, work role)
demographic background (socioeconomic group, identity, community)
social role (voter, consumer, student, patient)

Case's heuristics for choosing studies to represent key concepts in the info behavior literature:
focus on occupations/roles/demographies
person rather than system (no student studies, either)
recent over past


Ch 13
Reviewing critiquing, concluding
Critiques about methods that lack scientific rigor, beginning with Herbert Menzel (1966)
Herner & Herner (1967) on 7 shortcomings of information studies
William Paisley (1968) defective methodology and shallow conceptualization; also said "the field has almost no theory" (p.26)
Tom Allen (1969)

disparaging remarks about the current state of of findings and methodology and optimistic comments about recent and future improvements have persisted; intensifying in the 1980s; Wilson (1994) says "a firmer theoretical base now exists"

perceived view is that shifts in theoretical or methodological orientation toward the more phenomenological, contextual, and hermeneutic along with a more qualitative emphasis are desirable, but Case argues that now we're going to the other extreme, where nothing is generalizable and "scholarliness of the studies correlates with their degree of uselessness for institutional purposes." (371)

more scholarly, but less applicable

information seeking research would be more useful and rigorous if it were to focus on discrete tasks and tools, rather than trying to capture the full range of information behavior by a person or group (371)

information behavior has subsumed all of what used to be called online searching (371)

Case says that the broadening of scope is problematic bc it weakens the distinctiveness of "information behavior" as a concept. He notes that few researchers comprise the field, yet there is an abundance of theories, which makes it hard to critique one another. This has implications for my mapping project. (372-3)

He says a break in the field could happen where non-US researchers would focus on a few theories originating in the works of Bourdieu, de Certeau, Lave, Wenger, and Giddens, who are all concerned with practices in some way, while the rest would continue as they have been.

Many more researchers are studying the aspects of time, space, and situation that make a difference in the ways people create, encounter perceive, ignore, seek, and use information.

Eight lessons of information behavior research (reinterpreting Dervin's 10 myths)

  1. Formal sources and rationalized searches reflect only one side of human information behavior
  2. More information is not always better
  3. Context is central to the transfer of information
  4. Sometimes information--particularly generalized packages of information--doesn't help
  5. Sometimes it is not possible to make information available or accessible
  6. Information seeking is a dynamic process
  7. Information seeking is not always about a "problem" or "problematic situation"
  8. Information behavior is not always about "sense making" either

Wilson's prediction of increasing policy orientation of information research

Case predicts an increase in health-related information behavior research, as well.


Diana L. Ascher, PhD, MBA, is a principal at Stratelligence and a co-founder of the Information Ethics & Equity Institute. Her lifelong interest in knowledge and decision making has focused on the evaluation, classification, organization, communication, and interpretation of information, and motivates her work in the fields of behavioral science, finance, higher education, information studies, journalism, law, leadership, management, medicine, and policy. She brings more than two decades of experience as a writer, editor, media director, and information strategist to her work.

DianaNotes on Case Ch 10 & 13