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Chapter 2 The Emergence of Conceptual Modelling in Information Behaviour Research

New Directions in Information Behaviour

ISBN: 978-1-78052-170-1, eISBN: 978-1-78052-171-8

Publication date: 5 October 2011


This chapter explores how early theorising about information behaviour and the emergence of conceptual modelling in information behaviour research had its beginnings in thinking that was taking place in the very late 1970s and early 1980s in Europe and the USA. Some of these ideas were presented in papers that are very familiar and much cited, but others in papers which may be less familiar and, consequently, may not be much cited, but which together contribute to explain why the rapid development in conceptual thinking about, as opposed to the simple empirical study of, information behaviour took place from that period to the present. Four dimensions are identified which together underpin the emergence of conceptual modelling in contemporary information behaviour research. The four dimensions are (1) the adoption of a social science perspective, (2) a qualitative as opposed to a quantitative orientation, (3) a focus on the modelling of information behaviour and (4) a concern with empirical validation and exemplification in the development of such models. These four dimensions came together to provide a tacit rather than explicit framework for subsequent theorising about information behaviour, and in particular underpinned studies involved the conceptual modelling of information behaviour. Information behaviour research then began to develop conceptual models very different from the empiricism of earlier studies, and, at the same time exhibited a strong concern for the exemplification or validation of these models in empirical studies. This combination of theoretically based conceptual modelling and empirical exemplification and validation together gave much of the character to information behaviour research from the later 1970s and early 1980s, an influence that extends to the present.


Ellis, D. (2011), "Chapter 2 The Emergence of Conceptual Modelling in Information Behaviour Research", Spink, A. and Heinström, J. (Ed.) New Directions in Information Behaviour (Library and Information Science, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 17-35.



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