The Impact of Doctoral Research in Information Science and Librarianship


Support for doctoral research is a significant part of the work of any research support agency. Yet the impact of this work, whether on practice in the appropriate field or on scholarship in the discipline, is itself not well researched.

In the UK in the 1970s, a study of the impact of doctoral research in Geography was carried out jointly by the Department of Geography and the then Postgraduate School of Librarianship and Information Science at the University of Sheffield. Later, in 1985/86, the work of Ph.D. students was covered to some extent by Craghill & Wilson (1987) in a study supported by the British Library Research & Development Department. Further activity in the Department of Information Studies at Sheffield in the 1980s formed the basis of the monitoring process now employed by the Economic and Social Research Council.

In 1995 Charles Oppenheim studied research impact in librarianship and information studies from the perspective of a possible correlation between the number of citations of faculty in LIS departments in the UK and the 1992 research assessment ratings received by these departments. Insofar as these members of faculty have Ph.D. degrees, Oppenheim's analysis may overlap with other studies of the impact of doctoral research. However, in addition to a difference in focus, Oppenheim's search for citations was limited to first authors in Social Scisearch only, overlooking some co-authors and excluding LIS research and publication activity in the sciences and humanities.

These studies notwithstanding, no project to date has specifically considered the impact of the research studentships provided in the fields of librarianship and information studies by the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE). This study, funded by the Research and Innovation Centre of the British Library, has sought to fill that gap. This report is augmented by a paper by Santos, Willett and Wood on related research at the Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, submitted to the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science; we acknowledge with thanks the Editor's permission to include this paper.


Mary Dykstra Lynch and T.D. Wilson©British Library Board 1997