Information Seeking Research: A State of the Art
Research in information science on information seeking and transfer between people in all sorts of work environments, cultures, and personal situations has been done in the field for fifty years. Over those years, many different models and paradigms have been experimented with by researchers. The bad news is that no one theoretical model has captured everyone’s allegiance to produce a single focused body of results. The good news, however, is that each model or proto-paradigm has enabled the field to enrich and extend its understanding of information seeking in ever more novel ways, until we have reached a point of very rich understanding of this phenomenon in ways that most other social sciences do not have.
I will review some of these research orientations and the kinds of things we have learned from them, and bring us up to date with the current enthusiasms in the field, including the information behavior vs. information practice debate, a radically new concept of information literacy, and the interest in the role of embodied information.
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Marcia J. Bates is a professor emerita in the UCLA Department of Information Studies. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she is a leading authority on information search, human-centered design of information systems, and information practices. She was editor-in-chief of the seven-volume Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd ed., and has received awards for research and leadership. She has been active as a technical consultant to numerous organizations. She is a graduate of Pomona College (B.A.) and of this School (M.L.S., Ph.D.). She served in the Peace Corps in Thailand.