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Christina's LIS Rant
Thursday, February 03, 2005
  Information seeking (business researcher approach)
This post has been rattling around in my head so I finally decided to get it actually down with the hope of someday developing my thoughts further.

First, at ASIS&T I noticed a tension between computer guys (web 2.0 guys, IT guys, CS guys, etc.) and library types. You see, librarians and information scientists have been researching how to find, classify, display, store information for more than a century. It's frustrating to sit in a meeting where a 20-something IT guy "discovers" classification or cataloging. The IT guy gets a hostile reception and just thinks the LIS guys are not open to new ideas. I think I've actually been on both sides of this at different times.

Recently, I've seen some business researchers jump into information seeking -- sometimes making statements that there exists no research on the subject. The research is also being done in the field of cognitive psychology and education -- not just LIS. Likewise, network analysis has been around for years. I originally found it a little odd that physicists were studying this but it ends up making sense because they're also big into the whole scientometrics deal. The whole recent rediscovery of the field recently is interesting, but... anyway.

In re information seeking in business. SC, I think (? sorry if it was a KM person instead), pointed out an article by Borgatti on SNA and KM. This lead me to search him in ABI/Inform (which is really a joy since they've added some bells and whistles, but that's another post)... and find this citation:
Stephen P Borgatti and Rob Cross. "A Relational View of Information Seeking and Learning in Social Networks." Management Science 49, no. 4 (April 2003): 432. f/t in ABI but also here (PDF).
which led to
Cross, R., R. E. Rice, and A. Parker. "Information Seeking in Social Context: Structural Influences and Receipt of Information Benefits." IEEE Transactions on Systems Man and Cybernetics Part C-Applications and Reviews 31, no. 4 (November 2001): 438-48. f/t in Xplore (for subscribers)

If you read Tenopir and King, Communications Patterns of Engineers, you'll see decades-worth of studies on how engineers in industry like to get information from other people. Gee, even a crappy GS search to try to find a free version gets you lots of LIS things on this. Information seeking in social context... give me a break. Didn't I spend a semester on that and don't hundreds of people have PhDs on that? I don't see a lot of LIS researchers cited in either of these articles (really only Allen). Intentional? Failure to appreciate the interdisciplinarity of the field or to look in the right place? Was the literature examined and discarded or is it unknown?

Updated, tag added.

Updated, 2/8, see below:
I was just wandering around in my ProCite database and ran across this citation:
Hertzum, Morten and Annelise Mark Pejtersen. "The Information-Seeking Practices of Engineers: Searching for Documents As Well As for People." Information Processing & Management 36, no. 5 (September 2000): 761-78. Available online (for subscribers, $$$). I looked to see who had cited it and found this even more interesting article: Hertzum, M. and others. "Trust in Information Sources: Seeking Information From People, Documents, and Virtual Agents." Interacting With Computers 14, no. 5 (October 2002): 575-99. Available online (for subscribers, $$$). Hertzum's work seems incredibly relevant to the Borgatti and Mackenzie works, yet neither of them cite him. Yes, there may be a difference between business managers and industrial engineers, but I suspect not so much so...

 
Comments:
Another earlier source on this topic is the book _InfoThink: Practical Strategies for Using Information in Business,_ written by Mary Woodfill Park in 1998 and published by Scarecrow Press.

Mary interviewed executives in diverse fields such as law, finance, marketing etc. to discover how they searched for and used information. A good read.

Susan Fingerman
 
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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina Kirk Pikas

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