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Becoming a discipline: the institutionalization of Library and Information Science in the Nordic countries
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2008 (English)In: Journal of Documentation, ISSN 0022-0418, E-ISSN 1758-7379, Vol. 64, no 5, 721-737 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose - The paper's objective is to analyze the social organization of library and information Science (LIS) using the Nordic countries as example, focusing on organizational setting, research work and relations between LIS and academia as well as the field of professional practice.

Design/methodology/approach - Based on a framework for analyzing scientific fields, as well as its application on LIS, aspects relating to the impact of contextual factors on research was identified and discussed based on information front, e.g. LIS institution web sites. The results were discussed, not only in relation to the framework primarily utilized, but also from a less disciplinary view on research organization, for analytical contrast.

Findings - A close connection between academic affiliation and research orientation was found, reflected in organizational issues, media for communicating research and access to resources. This relates to general issues of levels of independence front other disciplines and lay groups, to what extent research is evaluated by intra-disciplinary standards and to the level of consensus on terminology and research processes.

Research limitations/implications - Limiting the study to institutions in one particular geographical area, where several institutions being at an early stage of formalization, the possibility of reaching generalizable conclusions is limited. The strength of the conclusions is also somewhat restrained Clue to the nature oft he empirical material, being based on web documents with varying levels of exhaustability in terms of data provision.

Originality/vallue - The intellectual organization of LIS research is well-known, whereas social and imstitutional aspects have been analyzed to a lesser degree; and with the differences in age and size of Nordic LIS institutions, they provide an interesting case of contemporary institutionalization of LIS research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Yorkshire: Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2008. Vol. 64, no 5, 721-737 p.
Keyword [en]
Research, Scandinavia, Information science and documentation, organizational design
National Category
Information Studies Computer Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-5585DOI: 10.1108/00220410810899736ISI: 000260562100006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-5585DiVA: diva2:145143
Available from: 2006-11-20 Created: 2006-11-20 Last updated: 2017-06-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The social and intellectual development of library and information science
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The social and intellectual development of library and information science
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The background of the project is partly found in a long tradition within library and information science (LIS) of meta-analyses on the field, partly in a science studies discussion on research fields and their contextual relation to wider academia, fields of professional

practices and professionalization processes. The general purpose of the project is to analyze the social and intellectual development and organization of LIS; and to investigate the impact of the close relation to the practice field, as well as the relation to the academic world in general. Based on the general purpose of the project and results and interpretations of the four articles attached to the thesis, three questions were stated for discussion in the thesis proper, concerning: the effects of a dual origin and LIS as a discipline, a field of research and a field of practice, the purpose of meta-studies and implications in terms of identity and perception of LIS; and competition and cooperation with other fields of research. Because of the heterogeneous nature of LIS, a variety of methods and materials was used in the different articles; and methodological issues on limits and bias in bibliographic databases – and the implications on the perception of research areas with varying publication and citation behaviour – were discussed. The analyses were performed against a theoretical framework, providing key organizational characteristics of scientific fields, relating to social, intellectual and contextual aspects, in combination with theories on scientific and disciplinary development, professionalization and interdisciplinarity; but also, for analytical contrast: alternate theories on the development of the sciences since 1945. LIS shows two distinct paths of development: research areas developing out of other fields of research; and a disciplinary development originating out of the field of practice and institutions for educating practitioners. Analyzing meta-studies of LIS, the picture of a field with a vague identity and a diverse self-understanding, even in terms of core characteristics, emerges. The relation to the wider academic community is characterized by diffuse boundaries towards, and competition from, other fields of research. In general, LIS is a fragmented field with a multitude of wildly varying research areas; and with large variations in terms of organizational setting; which together with a vague identity and diffuse boundaries, as well as the close connections to the field of practice, might contribute towards explaining problems LIS have been experiencing, establishing itself in academia. However, there are also signs towards an integration of a number of LIS research areas, as well as an increase in interdisciplinary cooperation, contradicting theories suggesting a further fragmentation; and supporting ideas on the sciences developing towards e.g. interdisciplinarity and applicability of results.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Sociologi, 2006. 67 p.
Series
Akademiska avhandlingar vid Sociologiska institutionen, Umeå universitet, ISSN 1104-2508 ; 48
Keyword
library and information science, sociology of science, scholarly communication,
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-943 (URN)91-7264-197-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-12-15, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå University, 10:15
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-11-20 Created: 2006-11-20Bibliographically approved

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