Theory Development in the Information Sciences: Reflecting on the Process

Updated: 3:25pm, 8 Nov, 2022
5 April 2016 (Tue)
Room 101, 1/F., Runme Shaw Bldg., HKU
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Emerging as a discipline in the first half of the twentieth century, the information sciences study how people, groups, organizations, and governments create, share, disseminate, manage, search, access, evaluate, and protect information, as well as how different technologies and policies can facilitate and constrain these activities. Given the broad span of the information sciences, it is perhaps not surprising that there is no consensus regarding its underlying theory—the purposes of it, the types of it, or how one goes about developing new theories.

A new book, Theory Development in the Information Sciences edited by Sonnenwald, seeks to shed light on these issues by sharing reflections on the theory development process. These reflections focus on the struggles, challenges, successes, and excitement of developing theories. The particular theories that the contributors explore in their essays range widely, from theories of literacy and reading to theories of design and digital search. Several chapters engage with theories of the behavior of individuals and groups; some deal with processes of evaluation; others reflect on questions of design; and the rest treat cultural and scientific heritage. Chapter contributors are (in alphabetical order) Bates, Bawden, Buckland, Carroll, Chang, Crew, Dillion, Järvelin, Kuhlthau, McGann, Meadows, Nardi, Olson and Olson, Saracevic and Thelwall.

In this talk Sonnenwald will discuss different types of theories and illuminate the theory development process based on a synthesis of the chapters. The ultimate goal is to encourage, inspire, and assist individuals striving to use, develop and/or teach theory development.

About the speaker(s):

<p>Diane H. Sonnenwald is a Visiting Professor and Distinguished Endowed Chair in the Taiwan Global Networking Talent Program at the Graduate Institute of Library and Information Studies, National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. She is also an Adjunct Professor in Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (U.S.), and Emerita Professor of Information and Library Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland, where she also served as Head of School and Head of Subject. Before joining academia, Sonnenwald worked at Bell Communications Research and Bell Labs.<br /><br />Sonnenwald is the only person outside North America to be elected President of ASIS&amp;T, the Association for Information Science and Technology. She served as President in 2011-2012, chaired the International Relations Committee from 2013-2015, and is chairing the 2016 ASIS&amp;T Annual Meeting that will be held in Copenhagen in October 2016. In these roles she has implemented multiple initiatives to increase global participation and collaboration in the information sciences.<br /><br />Sonnenwald&rsquo;s research focuses on collaboration, technology design and use, and information behaviour in a variety of contexts. She has authored or edited over 90 scholarly publications. She serves on the editorial boards of five journals, including JASIS&amp;T and Information Research. She has been awarded over 20 grants from national and international foundations, corporations, and funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, the European Science Foundation, the Motorola Foundation and the HW Wilson Foundation.<br /><br />Sonnenwald was awarded the 2014 SigUSE Elfreda A. Chatman Research Award and the 2013 ASIS&amp;T Lecture Series Award. Other awards and recognition include a Fulbright Professorship, U.S. Army Research Laboratory Scientific Contribution Award, UNC Junior Faculty Research Award, ALISE Research Methodology Best Paper Award, and Bell Communications Research Award of Excellence. She has a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.<br /><br /></p>

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