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LIS 510. THEORIES OF IB Nov 6, 2007. Paradigms & LIS. Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) popularized the term in his influential book The structure of scientific revolutions in 1962. Meanings: For social scientists, refers to a “world view” or “general perspective”

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Lis 510
LIS 510


Nov 6, 2007

Paradigms lis
Paradigms & LIS

  • Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) popularized the term in his influential book The structure of scientific revolutions in 1962.


    • For social scientists, refers to a “world view” or “general perspective”

    • Schwandt (1997): commitments, beliefs, values, methods, outlooks, etc., shared across a discipline

    • Bates (1999): core body of theory and methodology of a field, along with an associated world view regarding the phenomena of interest to the field

Dervin nilan 1986 arist
Dervin & Nilan (1986-ARIST)

  • Need for conceptual enrichment in LIS research

  • Research had not informed practice; need to borrow from social sciences, develop theories and conceptual frameworks, examine basic assumptions / definitions, and improve the predictive value of theory

  • Paradigm shift: from system/resource approach to alternative one—characterized by focus on constructive, active users, subjective info, situationality, wholistic views of experience, internal cognition, systematic individuality, and qualitative research

Dervin nilan cont
Dervin & Nilan, Cont’

  • 3 user-centered frameworks:

    (1) Taylor, and MacMullin & Taylor’s “user-values” or “value-added” approach

    (2) Dervin’s sense-making approach

    (3) Belkin et al’s anomalous states of knowledge (ASK) approach

  • Documenting field’s “quantum and revolutionary leap” and achievement of critical mass, they challenged researchers to continue “inventing new ways of looking at users and linking systems to them” (p. 24)


  • For social scientists, generally understood to refer to a unified, systematic explanation of a social phenomenon(a) (Schwandt, 1997)

    Grand/Formal T ↔ Middle Range/Grounded T

    Example: Marx’s socialism vs Kuhlthau’s ISP

Mckechnie pettigrew joyce nribr 2000
McKechnie, Pettigrew& Joyce (NRIBR 2000)

  • Identify extent/ways theory is used in journal literature

    • 28%  1990-94 (Julien, 1996)

    • 6-8%  1965, >75, & >85 (Järvlein & Vakkari, 1993)

  • Trace academic origins of theory used in LIS and IB research

  • Explore how LIS and IB theories are used by scholars in other disciplines

Content analysis
Content Analysis

  • 1160 Articles from 1993-98 in 6 journals (IP&M, JDOC, LISR, JASIS&T, JELIS, LQ)

  • Author Affiliation

  • Type of Article

  • Subject of Article

  • Theory codes (if present, where from, where mentioned in article)

Operationalization of theory
Operationalization of “Theory”

  • Consider a “theory” as identified if author describes it as such in the article (applicable to established or proposed theories) or uses such key terms as “conceptual” (including variations, e.g., conceptualization), “framework,” “grounded,” or “underpinnings” to describe an idea/view or approach as such.

Selected results
Selected Results

  • Of 1160 articles, 95 addressed info behavior

  • Overall, IB articles ranked 2nd highest in theory use (1.99 theories per article)

  • 58.9% of all IB articles used theory

  • Heavy theory users: 16% of IB authors accounted for 56% theory incidents

Selected results cont
Selected Results, Cont’

  • Most IB articles used theory from social sciences (64.4%; ex: Glaser & Strauss’ grounded theory, Roger’s diffusion theory), followed by LIS (28.7%)

  • Authors not always mention theory in titles or abstracts

  • Most frequently cited IB theories: Kuthlau’s ISP & Dervin’s sense-making

Theories of information behavior
Theories of Information Behavior

  • Edited by Karen Fisher, Sanda Erdelez & Lynne McKechnie

  • Published in 2005 by Information Today

  • 75 entries by 85 authors from 10 countries

  • Common format: origins, propositions, how used, etc

  • Grew from 2003 ASIST SIG USE Symposium

Marcia bates metatheories theories models
Marcia Bates:Metatheories, Theories Models

  • Model: proto-theory, a tentative proposed set of relationships, which can then be tested for validity

  • Theory: a system of assumptions, principles, & relationships that explains a specified set of phenomena

  • Metatheory: a theory concerned with investigation, analysis or description of theory itself; the philosophy behind the theory

    Any examples from the readings?

Marcia bates cont metatheories theories models
Marcia Bates (cont’):Metatheories, Theories Models

  • From a model to a theory

  • Where do metatheories fit in?






Marcia bates chapter cont metatheories theories models
Marcia Bates Chapter (cont’):Metatheories, Theories Models

  • Methatheories in LIS

    • Idiographic approaches

      • Historical

      • Construcitvist

      • Constructionist or discourse-analytic

      • Philosophical-analytic

      • Critical theory

    • Mixed approaches

      • Ethnographic

      • Socio-cognitive

  • Nomothetic approaches

    • Cognitive

    • Bibliometric

    • Physical

    • Engineering

    • User-centered design

    • Evolutionary

Ib theories covered in class
IB Theories Covered In-Class

  • Basic Help-seeking (DePaulo)

  • Belkin’s ASK

  • Bates’ Berrypicking

  • Granovetter’s Strength of Weak Ties

    Nov 8th

  • Dervin’s Sense-Making

  • Wilson’s General Model

  • Krikelas’ Info Seeking

  • Kuhlthau’s Info Search Process

  • Johnson Model

  • Leckie Model of Professionals’ Info-seeking

  • Bystrӧm & Jӓrvelin’s Task Complexity Model

    Nov 13th

  • Chatman’s Info Poverty, Life in the Round, & Normative Behavior

  • Savolainen’s Everyday Life Information Seeking (ELIS)

  • Zipf’s Least Effort

  • Uses and Gratifications / Media use as Social Action

  • Play Theory

Steps in help seeking depaulo c f harris dewdney 1994
Steps in Help-seeking(DePaulo; c.f., Harris & Dewdney, 1994)

  • Help-seeking is triggered by help-seeker’s recognition of need for help

  • Help-seeker decides whether to seek help

  • Selects an appropriate source of help

  • Help-seeker initiates and executes request

  • Help-seeker reacts to helper’s response


  • What’s wrong the DePaulo model?

    (One person at a time…)

Belkin s ask anomalous state of knowledge
Belkin’s ASKAnomalous State of Knowledge

  • Proposed by Belkin in 1977 as “the effective communication of desired information between human generator and human user”

  • “anomaly”–state of knowledge is inadequate with respect to ability to resolve problematic situation

  • Model for understanding how users and IR systems interact

  • Obvious relationships between ASK, Taylor’s “unconscious need,” Wersig’s “problematic situation,” Dervin’s “gaps”

Belkin the traditional ir model
Belkin &the Traditional IR Model

  • ASK can be equated with Taylor’s levels 1 and 2 of info need (unconscious or visceral, and conscious)

  • Taylor’s stages of need:

    • Visceral

    • Conscious

    • Formalized

    • Compromised

  • What defines the user’s progress from stage to stage?

  • At what stage does the IS help the user?

Belkin s ask
Belkin’s ASK

  • General idea behind the ASK hypothesis is the cognitive viewpoint

Ask and it shall not be given
ASK and It Shall (Not) be Given

  • No “best matches”—many info needs don’t make it to the “compromised” stage

  • Non-specifiability

    • Cognitive component

    • Linguistic component

      • User’s language

      • System’s language

What would an ask based ir system do
What would an ASK-based IR system do?

  • Capture user’s unstructured problem statements (ASK)

  • Perform a linguistic, structural analysis of problem statements

  • Select retrieval strategy according to type of ASK

  • Present info to user

  • Evaluate results based on retrieval strategy, relevance of information, and new state of users’ need

  • Revise / retry query as appropriate

  • Do it all algorithmically, using databases and natural-language analysis tools


  • What’s your ASK?

  • How useful is ASK for understanding info behavior?

  • How, if at all, is ASK still useful for system design?



Bates 1989
Bates (1989)

  • Inadequacy of classic IR Model

  • Models need to reflect “evolving search”

  • Berrypicking

    - “a bit at a time retrieval”

    - “[when] a query is satisfied not by a single final retrieved set, but by a series of selections of individual references and bits of ino at each stage of the every-modifying search” (p. 410)

  • Berrypicking different from browsing

The context of berrypicking
The Context of Berrypicking

  • Another critique of the classic IR model, from the direction of user search practices

    • Traditional IR model too linear

    • No room for discussing how search process changes

  • Models need to reflect “evolving search”

Bates map of ir
Bates’ Map of IR

What’s missing? And why?

Berrypicking defined

  • “a bit at a time retrieval”

  • “[when] a query is satisfied not by a single final retrieved set, but by a series of selections of individual references and bits of info at each stage of the ever-modifying search”

The foundations of berrypicking
The Foundations of Berrypicking

Capabilities that need to be supported by the info system:

  • Footnote chasing (backward chaining)

  • Citation search (forward chaining)

  • Journal run

  • Area scanning / location searching

  • Subject searches in bibliographies and abstracting and indexing services

  • Author searching

  • Note similarities to Ellis’ info searching methods

Rambling in the berry patch
Rambling in the Berry Patch

  • How is this different from browsing?


  • Does berrypicking happen?

  • What’s the most important characteristic of berrypicking?

  • Where does it typically happen?

  • In what other contexts could it occur?


Strength of Weak Ties

Granovetter s swt
Granovetter’s SWT

  • Proposed SWT based on his PhD research at Harvard in late 60s on how people learned about their last job (soc nets)

  • Social nets comprise strong ties (STs, people with whom you’re close) & weak (WTs, people with whom you aren’t close--friends of friends…)

  • STs have same info: know same people, see all regularly

  • WTs likely have new info: out mixing with other people

  • STs play important listening or validating role: people confer with WTs before acting on info received from WTs

  • (See refs in Pettigrew’s LQ article for more details)


  • Do you believe in SWT? Latent Ties?

  • What other situations involving info flow might we study using Granovetter’s strength of weak ties?

  • How could we use SWT for system design?

Next class nov 8 th
Next Class – Nov 8th

  • Dervin’s Sense-making

  • Wilson’s General Model

  • Krikelas’ Info Seeking

  • Kuhlthau’s Info Search Process

  • Johnson Model

  • Leckie Model of Professionals’ Info-seeking

  • Bystrӧm & Jӓrvelin’s Task Complexity Model