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Using the domain analytical approach in the study of information practices in biomedicine

Annikki Roos (Hanken School of Economics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)
Turid Hedlund (Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




The purpose of this paper is to analyze the information practices of the researchers in biomedicine using the domain analytical approach.


The domain analytical research approach used in the study of the scientific domain of biomedicine leads to studies into the organization of sciences. By using Whitley’s dimensions of “mutual dependence” and “task uncertainty” in scientific work as a starting point the authors were able to reanalyze previously collected data. By opening up these concepts in the biomedical research work context, the authors analyzed the distinguishing features of the biomedical domain and the way these features affected researchers’ information practices.


Several indicators representing “task uncertainty” and “mutual dependence” in the scientific domain of biomedicine were identified. This study supports the view that in biomedicine the task uncertainty is low and researchers are mutually highly dependent on each other. Hard competition seems to be one feature, which is behind the explosion of the data and publications in this domain. This fact, on its part is directly related to the ways information is searched, followed, used and produced. The need for new easy to use services or tools for searching and following information in so called “hot” topics came apparent.


The study highlights new information about information practices in the biomedical domain. Whitley’s theory enabled a thorough analysis of the cultural and social nature of the biomedical domain and it proved to be useful in the examination of researchers’ information practices.



The authors would like to acknowledge the suggestions and comments that the authors received from the anonymous reviewers.


Roos, A. and Hedlund, T. (2016), "Using the domain analytical approach in the study of information practices in biomedicine", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 72 No. 5, pp. 961-986.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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