research

Library & information science (LIS) is concerned with sustaining the record of humankind. Practice and research in this field focuses on the processes of information communication: the creation, dissemination, management, organisation, preservation, analysis, use and understanding of information, instantiated as documents.

LIS has close links with the concepts of information literacy and scholarly communication.

My research and scholarly interests fall within the following areas:

  • The nature of library & information science as a discipline: its future, relationship with other subject areas (e.g. computer science, data science, publishing, digital humanities, cultural studies, media studies, performing-arts), and the implications for education, research and practice  (more)
  • Information: the nature of information, how it is understood within different disciplines, and unifying characteristics (more)
  • Information resources: understanding how we define documents and the processes of documentation (more)
  • Information behaviour (more)
  • Information literacy
  • Information ethics

Developments in all of these areas are driven by technology, and this provides a unifying theme to the varied aspects of my work.

Whilst I often write conceptually, I additionally use mixed methods for my research. It is impossible to ignore the amount of data which pervades our social and professional lives, and that indeed all of our digital engagement is now recorded and potentially available for analysis. Analysis and interpretation of data is a key activity within the discipline of information science. The  investigatory tools used by LIS are encountering what has been termed a ‘neo-dualism’, based on the tension between traditional qualitative methodological approaches, which favor information, meaning and semantics, and the quantitative approaches, which emphasise data. These latter having come to prominence as a consequence to the contemporary availability of large, digital datasets from the sciences, humanities and social media. This tension reflects the different origins of information science and data science, which are, in fact, complementary and which would benefit from integration via the modern LIS discipline. See David Bawden’s blog post from 30/05/16.

In recent times, concern has focused on the use of large data sets by algorithms, and the potential for, and existence of, erroneous predictive analysis. This, alongside the increase in misinformation and disinformation spread by social media, has changed the landscape of library and information science significantly as we move into the mid 21st century.

I have supervised many doctoral students to completion of their award, and if you are interested in working in LIS or related areas, I am always pleased to hear from potential PhD students.