Applied epistemology in information studies

John D. Munday, Ilene A. Butler


Is Knowledge Management (KM) an emerging discipline or just a new label for Information Management (IM)? To provide some answers to this question, the article summarizes empirical evidence of how KM is practiced in several types of organizations demonstrating the variety of organizational approaches that are used and the processes that are involved. Based on an exploratory study of KM practices, the article presents a typology of methodologies that are employed in various organizations to illustrate what may be considered as the particular nature of KM to show potential differences with IM. The first section of the article discusses the concepts associated with the management of information and knowledge. The second part provides a description of the conceptual framework used for the study and a presentation and discussion of the results.

Applied epistemology and data study knowledge

Gloria W. Baxter, Brian K. Johnston


Introduction. Applied epistemology allows information studies to benefit from developments in philosophy. In information studies, epistemic concepts are rarely considered in detail. This paper offers a review of several epistemic concepts, focusing on understanding, as a call for further work in applied epistemology in information studies. Method. A hermeneutic literature review was conducted on epistemic concepts in information studies and philosophy. Relevant research was retrieved and reviewed iteratively as the research area was refined. Analysis. A conceptual analysis was conducted to determine the nature and relationships of the concepts surveyed, with an eye toward synthesizing conceptualizations of understanding and opening future research directions. Results. The epistemic aim of understanding is emerging as a key research frontier for information studies. Two modes of understanding (hermeneutic and epistemological) were brought into a common framework. Conclusions. Research on the concept of understanding in information studies will further naturalistic information research and provide coherence to several strands of philosophic thought.

Planting modern practice in information science garden

Joey A. Carrizales , Mary D. Delph


Introduction. The purpose of this paper is to introduce to information science in a coherent fashion the core premises of contemporary practice theory, and thus to engage the information research community in further debate and discussion. Method. Contemporary practice-based approaches are summarised in an ensemble of five core premises by means of a broad conceptual analysis of the relevant literature. Differentiated from its historical antecedents by central ideas from science and technology studies, particularly actor-network theory and the sociology of translation, this current practice movement builds on the latest practice ‘turn’ which is then used to answer the question of how practice theory could contribute to information science. Results. Capturing the distinct ontology, epistemology and methodology of current practice theory, the five key premises provide novel insights in transcending the macro-objectivist and micro-subjectivist levels of analysis, in sociomateriality, in stretching interactions to action nets to conceptualize dynamic organizing, in the sharing of tacit knowledge, in the emergent nature of knowing and learning, and in social order and change as dynamic outcomes of the tightly interwoven processes of doing, knowing and organizing. Conclusions This paper distinguishes the everyday notion of practice, mostly understood as practices, from contemporary practice theory which aspires to integrate practice ontology, epistemology and methodology into a coherent theoretical framework. This upcoming theory offers a dedicated vocabulary and approach to all of those information scientists who either focus on macro-structures or micro-interactions in their studies, but feel at risk of ignoring or missing important dimensions of social order and change in action.

Supporting better treatments to meet health consumers ‘ requirements: extracting semi conducts from social information to represent a consumer health ontology

Angeline C. Corriveau, Christopher J. Mitchell


Introduction. The purpose of this paper is to provide a framework for building a consumer health ontology using social tags. This would assist health users when they are accessing health information and increase the number of documents relevant to their needs. Methods. In order to extract concepts from social tags, this study conducted an empirical study on terms collected from a social networking site. The semantics of tags were analyzed and a concept list was developed by using the middle-out strategy. Analysis. This study analysed the semantic values of tags by employing Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA). This is a method for extracting and representing the contextual-usage meaning of words by analyzing relationships between documents and the terms they contain and word semantics. Results. The process of building an ontology using social tags shows how using this consumer health ontology could improve user access and retrieval. It demonstrates how terms extracted from tags are related to each other with similarity and relationships within hierarches in the ontology. Conclusion. The study has implications for better design of ontology applications that support the search for health-related resources. This will enhance the communication between health consumers and professionals.

Information literacy in the tension between discursive practice and self-directed teaching of learners

Julie R. Paulson, Muriel C. Minnich


Introduction. Self-guided learning has had a major impact on adult education, where information seeking and use are key aspects of learning. With their lack of experience in study contexts, the students are nevertheless assumed to develop information literacy. Method. The paper aims to create an understanding of how information literacy can be recognised in the tension between the schools’ practice and the students’ self-directed learning. This is done through a qualitative case study including forty-three interviews, thirty observations and seventeen documents, which gave in-depth knowledge of information activities in relation to a complex school assignment. Analysis. Using a socio-cultural perspective, the analysis led to the identification of several critical aspects of information literacy. Results. The aspects included the distinction between quantitative and qualitative information seeking, critical approaches towards information, knowledge of genres, the ability to identify and use various tools, and the ability to communicate conceptually about information seeking and use. Conclusions. The findings reveal an absence of interaction about information seeking and use in the educational context, as well as a lack of common references in the form of tools and support, leading to difficulties for the students in achieving the results that were expected according to learning objectives.