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Information encountering re-encountered: A conceptual re-examination of serendipity in the context of information acquisition

Sanda Erdelez (School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA)
Stephann Makri (Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design and Centre for Information Science, City, University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 18 February 2020

Issue publication date: 21 April 2020

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629

Abstract

Purpose

In order to understand the totality, diversity and richness of human information behavior, increasing research attention has been paid to examining serendipity in the context of information acquisition. However, several issues have arisen as this research subfield has tried to find its feet; we have used different, inconsistent terminology to define this phenomenon (e.g. information encountering, accidental information discovery, incidental information acquisition), the scope of the phenomenon has not been clearly defined and its nature was not fully understood or fleshed-out.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, information encountering (IE) was proposed as the preferred term for serendipity in the context of information acquisition.

Findings

A reconceptualized definition and scope of IE was presented, a temporal model of IE and a refined model of IE that integrates the IE process with contextual factors and extends previous models of IE to include additional information acquisition activities pre- and postencounter.

Originality/value

By providing a more precise definition, clearer scope and richer theoretical description of the nature of IE, there was hope to make the phenomenon of serendipity in the context of information acquisition more accessible, encouraging future research consistency and thereby promoting deeper, more unified theoretical development.

Keywords

Citation

Erdelez, S. and Makri, S. (2020), "Information encountering re-encountered: A conceptual re-examination of serendipity in the context of information acquisition", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 76 No. 3, pp. 731-751. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-08-2019-0151

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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