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Contextualising risk: the unfolding information work and practices of people during the COVID-19 pandemic

Annemaree Lloyd (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)
Alison Hicks (Department of Information Studies, University College London, London, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 22 February 2021

Issue publication date: 10 August 2021

528

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of this study is to investigate people's information practices as the SARS-CoV-2 virus took hold in the UK. Of particular interest is how people transition into newly created pandemic information environments and the ways information literacy practices come into view.

Design/methodology/approach

The qualitative research design comprised one-to-one in-depth interviews conducted virtually towards the end of the UK's first lockdown phase in May–July 2020. Data were coded and analysed by the researchers using constant comparative and situated analysis techniques.

Findings

Transition into new pandemic information environments was shaped by an unfolding phase, an intensification phase and a stable phase. Information literacy emerged as a form of safeguarding as participants engaged in information activities designed to mitigate health, legal, financial and well-being risks produced by the pandemic.

Research limitations/implications

Time constraints meant that the sample from the first phase of this study skewed female.

Practical implications

Findings establish foundational knowledge for public health and information professionals tasked with shaping public communication during times of crisis.

Social implications

This paper contributes to understandings of the role that information and information literacy play within global and long-term crises.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies to explore information practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords

Citation

Lloyd, A. and Hicks, A. (2021), "Contextualising risk: the unfolding information work and practices of people during the COVID-19 pandemic", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 77 No. 5, pp. 1052-1072. https://doi.org/10.1108/JD-11-2020-0203

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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