Wilson T.D. and Barrulas M.J. eds. The new review of information behaviour research: studies of information seeking in context. ISIC IV, The fourth international conference on research in information needs, seeking and use in different contexts, Lisbon, 2002. London: Taylor Graham, 2002. 220 p. ISSN 1471-6313. £75.00
The third volume of The new review of information behaviour research is based on fourteen papers from the Fourth international conference on research in information needs, seeking and use in different contexts.
The trend to turn conference papers into journal articles and publish them as such seems to be spreading. One can wonder if this can be seen as a devaluation of a scholarly journal article. I would strongly defend this practice from several points of view. As an author, of course, I would appreciate a possibility of a journal publication, which in my research area is valued more than a conference paper. As an editor of a journal I would find it an efficient way of a double-step quality control: first, selection for a presentation in a high-rank conference, second, editorial process. As a reader and information user, I would sigh with relief finding conference papers in a normal journal and not some esoteric proceedings, especially if they are not available on the Web.
Speaking about the devaluation of an article, the journal under review here proves that at least in this case, the published research is of high quality and contents: attractive for a wide range of professionals and scholars, though there is nothing unexpected for those well-acquainted with this area.
Several authors study the information behaviour of users in two contexts that have become traditional: the academic community (Vakkari and Serola, Given, Talja); situations related to health care (McKenzie, Donat and Pettigrew, Sundin, Williamson and Manaszevicz). In most cases qualitative methods, such as in-depth interviews and research reviews, were used. Vakkari and Serola applied statistical tests.
Authors like Bates and Wilson reflected on basic theoretical and methodological issues of information behaviour studies, seeking to produce an integrated information seeking/searching model (Bates) and draw distinction between methodology and method (Wilson). These two articles should draw a wider attention from other research communities.
What methods are used in human information research, how they are applied and described was a subject of a group from Canada/USA (McKechnie et al.) Their conclusions indicate some basic weaknesses in the reviewed publications and should cause some alarm in the whole LIS research community, especially the supervisors of doctoral students. Another author (Jarneving) enhances the topic by proposing how bibliometric techniques can be used in the context of information seeking research to reveal the cognitive structures.
There are also two articles addressing the issues of the application of information seeking findings in information retrieval. Benoit tested users' satisfaction with a system that provided more control over the search. Petrelli et al. address the problem of the information behaviour of users of cross-language retrieval systems. Lueg in his article draws a parallel between information seeking and artificial intelligence research and stresses the relevance of the two areas to each other.
Finally, I want to recommend the academic and research libraries to acquire this volume (and the previous ones if they have not yet been acquired) without regard to whether there is a LIS-related department at the university or not. The contributors to the journal come from a variety of research areas and the issue might be of equal interest to a social scientist, computer scientist, or a humanist. However, a short editorial addressing this particular aspect of a journal would be helpful.
How to cite this review
Elena Macevičiūtė, E. (2003) Review of: Wilson T.D. and Barrulas M.J. eds. The new review of information behaviour research : studies of information seeking in context. ISIC IV, The fourth international conference on research in information needs, seeking and use in different contexts, Lisbon, 2002. London: Taylor Graham, 2002. Information Research, 8(4), review no. R103 [Available at: http://informationr.net/ir/reviews/revs103.html]