When our Data Don’t Match the Concepts: Reflections on Research Practice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 2016, 47 (1), pp. 18 - 29
Issue Date:
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© 2015 Australian Library & Information Association. Our understanding of knowledge in the field of library and information studies and its development is guided by a notion of consensus and accepted ways of working. Research findings make incremental changes to our knowledge and we have become used to acknowledging the constructivist underpinnings of scholarly knowledge by expecting differences in information behaviour and practices by people situated in different contexts and recognising the need for varied approaches to information provision to match these practices. Research thus can be seen to take a ‘business as usual’ model, as the ways of creating new knowledge are well established both in the consensus of the field and in the rigour of research methods. The purpose of this paper is to explore this notion of ‘business as usual’ in research in library and information studies, consider how it constrains the development of new understandings and to propose how the communal understanding, the consensus, can be revised. The paper concludes that moving away from a ‘business as usual’ model will potentially require acts of heroism, including the ability to see the creation of new knowledge as an imaginative process of discovery.
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