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A practice-based exploration of the enactment of information literacy among PhD students in an interdisciplinary research field

Ola Pilerot (Swedish School of Library and Information Science, University of Borås, Borås, Sweden)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 9 May 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The study aims to explore the interaction between the students, the material objects surrounding them, and their social site. The purpose of this paper is to identify and elucidate information literacy as it is being enacted within a complex and heterogeneous community of PhD students.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is conducted from a practice-based perspective, according to which information literacy is conceived as learnt through interaction within the socio-material practice where the learner is active. In order to produce empirical material, semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten doctoral students in an interdisciplinary research network, and their workplaces were visited.

Findings

The PhD students in this interdisciplinary network are more or less constantly engaged in the enactment of information literacy. It takes place in dialogue with others who can be both co-located and distantly located, and occurs through discussions about work in progress, through processes of evaluation and assessment of texts and authors, and through mundane everyday activities such as participating in meetings, which offer insights into how to navigate, in the broadest sense, the world of academia. A crucial part of the enactment of information literacy, which in practice is inseparable from interaction with others, is to pay attention to physical surroundings and material objects.

Practical implications

The findings have implications for prospective PhD students in interdisciplinary fields, for their supervisors, and potentially also for librarians who are supposed to serve these groups.

Originality/value

Research on the information literacies of PhD students in interdisciplinary fields is scarce. The practice-based approach applied in this study offers an extended and deepened understanding of the enactment of information literacy among PhD students in one interdisciplinary research practice.

Keywords

Citation

Pilerot, O. (2016), "A practice-based exploration of the enactment of information literacy among PhD students in an interdisciplinary research field", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 3, pp. 414-434. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-05-2015-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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