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Genre fiction readers: a quantitative exploration of provided construct ratings

Briony Birdi (Information School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 7 October 2014

Issue publication date: 7 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to adapt a repertory grid technique to investigate fiction readers’ attitudes and beliefs, with a specific focus on minority ethnic fiction.


The study required participants (n=36) to rate on a seven-point Likert scale a series of 16 provided constructs, using ten main elements, namely, the reader of ten fiction genres. Statistical tests investigated participant agreement across construct ratings, where on average fiction readers are rated on a construct continuum, and the extent to which public library work experience affected participants’ perceptions.


Findings were revealed regarding the perceived characteristics of the readers of ten fiction genres, including minority ethnic fiction. The readers of Asian and Black British fiction were similarly rated, but certain exceptions were also noted which had not been reported in previous research. Although intraclass correlations indicated that ratings were consistent for the more established fiction genres, there was little agreement regarding minority fiction.

Research limitations/implications

The research was potentially limited by the ethnic homogeneity of the sample population and the gender imbalance of same, and (in some cases) a lack of knowledge of minority fiction genres. It was felt that the repertory grid was an effective technique via which to build a rich profile of the fiction reader.

Practical implications

This research could inform the development of fiction collections, and its detailed examination of fiction reader profiles could be adapted in three specific ways, as described in the paper.


Little previous research has been conducted to differentiate between readers of different fiction genres, and less still for those of minority ethnic fiction genres.



The author would like to thank Professor Nigel Ford for his invaluable support and advice during this study, and throughout her doctoral research as a whole.


Birdi, B. (2014), "Genre fiction readers: a quantitative exploration of provided construct ratings", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 70 No. 6, pp. 1054-1075.



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