The purpose of this paper is to describe the information behaviors in which scholars regularly engage, in participants’ own words wherever possible, and discuss how those behaviors function in the broader landscape of scholars’ academic practice.
Scholars’ information behaviors were investigated using semi-structured interviews, along with document analysis. Three scholars recognized for significant contributions to their fields were identified from each of the three major divisions of academia (humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences) using intensity sampling, for a total of nine participants. Interviews asked each participant to describe a recent research project from conceptualization to completion, focusing on how scholars engaged with ideas, information resources, tools, and processes.
Information behaviors were found to permeate scholars’ work from conceptualization through publication, and included behaviors such as skimming, reading, data collection and analysis, and writing. Of particular interest are the specific information behaviors that fall into the broader category of information use.
This study uses established definitions of information behaviors to broaden the information behaviors conversation to include the entirety of academic practice. The study shows how scholars from across the academy engage with information throughout the course of their academic work, not just when they are engaged in more traditional information seeking activities.
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