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Research trends in information science
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Documentation, Volume 70, Issue 3
The future of research in the information disciplines is always of concern to Journal of Documentation (JD), as we always aim to be in the forefront of the latest developments, as well as to provide a body of knowledge that will remain relevant for a long period, as witness the very long half-life of citations to JD material. And of course, as I have written in a previous editorial (Bawden, 2013), we like to focus on the interesting and innovative, rather than the routine and repetitive.
It was therefore very interesting to read the results of a panel discussion, held at the ASIS&T meeting last year, on research trends in information science (Gainor, 2013). I am taking here just a few highlights, which I think most relevant to JD's interests.
Andrew Dillon (a JD board member) argued for a view of research based on what he saw as the core basics of the information science discipline: information itself, information organization through time and information design that matches user needs. The background to this is an unparalleled interest outside our field in information and information problems, but a weak research tradition within the information science leaving the discipline unable to respond effectively. Big research questions should revolve around the empirical demonstration of issues and solutions related to these three basics, and focus on the organization of information and the design of information services. Similarly, Sandra Erdelez argued for the need to relate research questions to core issues and to connect such research to social needs and trends.
Harry Bruce identified five topics which he considered will form the future of LIS research: big data; information assurance and cyber security; digital youth; information for creativity and innovation; and personal information management. Information security and personal information management were also among Erdelez's recommended research foci. Bruce also argued for more interdisciplinary work in building a more dynamic information research space.
Other views, expressed by participants such as Katriina Byström and Diane Sonnenwald, focus on infrastructure, social networks, facilitation and support for decision making as key concepts for future information research and practice.
The information sciences have always been prone to undue introspection and navel-gazing, activities castigated by participants in this discussion, but there is no doubt that regular consideration of the big issues of information research is necessary. Ideas such as this will certainly guide the progress of JD.
Bawden, D. (2013), “Imagination, exciting mixes and the improvement of information research”, Journal of Documentation, Vol. 69 No. 3, pp. 332-333
Gainor, R. (2013), “Selected ASIS&T board members discuss research trends in information science: a summary”, Bulletin of the Association of Information Science and Technology, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 13-16