Posts about Academic

Applied Epistemology and Understanding in Information Studies

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Applied epistemology and understanding in information studies. Information Research, 22(4), paper 776.

Abstract. Introduction: Applied epistemology allows information studies to benefit from developments in philosophy. In information studies, epistemic concepts are rarely considered in detail. This paper offers a review of several epistemic concepts, focusing on understanding, as a call for further work in applied epistemology in information studies. Method: A hermeneutic literature review was conducted on epistemic concepts in information studies and philosophy. Relevant research was retrieved and reviewed iteratively as the research area was refined. Analysis: A conceptual analysis was conducted to determine the nature and relationships of the concepts surveyed, with an eye toward synthesizing conceptualizations of understanding and opening future research directions. Results: The epistemic aim of understanding is emerging as a key research frontier for information studies. Two modes of understanding (hermeneutic and epistemological) were brought into a common framework. Conclusions: Research on the concept of understanding in information studies will further naturalistic information research and provide coherence to several strands of philosophic thought.

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Collaborative Connections: Designing Library Services for the Urban Poor

Preprint of an article to appear in The Library Quarterly in 2018, as part of a special issue on Public Libraries as Social Innovation Hubs. The published version may differ from what appears here.


In response to the increasing predominance of online information, urban public libraries have effected many changes, such as redesigning their interiors to add more computer stations and revamping their reference and instruction services to provide technology support. At the same time, library staffing and service hours have been reduced. Library users continue to have access to expert assistance, but this is increasingly only available via self-service and online resources. Though these changes have met the needs of many library users, research over the past forty years maintains that significant populations prefer to interact with information by talking, and these populations have been disenfranchised by certain changes in the library world. These underserved populations include families in poverty, individuals with disabilities, senior citizens, and residents of all ages unable to access digital library services because of geographic, linguistic, technological and socioeconomic barriers.

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There's No Shortcut: Building Understanding from Information in Ultrarunning

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). There’s no shortcut: Building understanding from information in ultrarunning. Journal of Information Science, 43(5), 713–722.

Abstract. Now that information proliferates, information science should turn its attention toward higher-order epistemic aims, such as understanding. Before systems to support the building of understanding can be designed, the process of building understanding must be explored. This paper discusses findings from an interpretative phenomenological analysis study on the information experience of participants in a 100-mile footrace which reveal how these participants have built understanding in their athletic pursuits. Three ways in which ultrarunners build understanding -- by taking time, by undergoing struggle, and by incorporating multiple perspectives -- are described. The ensuing discussion leads to three questions that can guide the future development of information systems that support understanding: First, how can information science slow people down? Second, how can information science encourage people to willingly struggle? And third, how can information science stimulate analogical thinking?

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Understanding Art-Making as Documentation

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Understanding art-making as documentation. Art Documentation, 36(2), 191–203.

Abstract. Typically, arts information professionals are concerned with the documentation of artwork. As a provocation, this conceptual paper explores how art-making itself can be considered a form of documentation and finished artworks as documents in their own right. On this view, art works as evidence in referencing something else, within a broader system, and under scrutiny it exposes how it references. Some implications of this perspective are discussed, springing from a historical discussion of document epistemology, research on the information behavior of artists, and the philosophy of Nelson Goodman. This discussion provides a framework for conceptualizing artistic information behavior along the entire information chain. Framing art-making in the terms of information science in this way may help arts information professionals assist artists, and it provides grounds for deeper co-understandings between artists and information scientists. Additionally, once information scientists consider art as a kind of document, one can begin to see that even non-artistic documents perhaps never were as "objective" or "factual" as they may have seemed.

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All the Community's a Stage: The Public Library's Part in Community Information Provision

Gorichanaz, T., and Turner, D. All the community’s a stage: The public library’s changing role in community information provision. The Library Quarterly, 87(2), 99–116.

Abstract. Community information is indispensable for modern life, but access to it remains challenging for many people. Historically, public libraries have been central in providing formal community information, but today such information provision is accomplished largely by informal networks of community service agencies. Thus, the role and the value of the public library in community information provision seem unclear. We find an analogy to this situation in design theorist Christopher Alexander’s conceptualization of planned versus natural cities, and we bring this to bear on an ongoing study of public library service provision to the urban poor. This work reveals implications and recommendations for the public library’s unfolding role in community information provision: public libraries may no longer be needed to provide formal community information, but they can engage as information shepherds with local community service agencies in informal community information provision.

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Auto-hermeneutics: A Phenomenological Approach to Information Experience

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Auto-hermeneutics: A phenomenological approach to information experience. Library and Information Science Research, 39(1), 1–7.

Abstract. The need for methodologically rigorous approaches to the study of human experience in LIS has emerged in recent years. Auto-hermeneutics is a research methodology that offers a systematic way to study one's own experiences. In LIS, auto-hermeneutics offers a way to approach emerging questions regarding information experience and allows researchers to explore yet-undocumented contexts, setting precedents for further work in these areas and ultimately widening our understanding of information. Auto-hermeneutics draws principles from autoethnography (perhaps the most well-known of automethodologies), self-study and systematic self-observation; prior studies of these types in LIS and allied fields are presented. A discussion of generalizability, validity and reliability in auto-hermeneutic research follows. Finally, an example of an auto-hermeneutic study conducted by the author is outlined for illustration.

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Document Phenomenology: A Framework for Holistic Analysis

Gorichanaz, T., and Latham, K. F. (2016). Document phenomenology: A framework for holistic analysis. Journal of Documentation, 72(6), 1114--1133.

Abstract. Purpose: This paper seeks to advance document ontology and epistemology by proposing a framework for analyzing documents from multiple perspectives of research and practice. Design/methodology/approach: Understanding is positioned as an epistemic aim of documents, which can be approached through phenomenology. A phenomenological framework for document analysis is articulated. Key concepts in this framework are include intrinsic information, extrinsic information, abtrinsic information, and adtrinsic information. Information and meaning are distinguished. Finally, documents are positioned as part of a structural framework, which includes individual documents, parts of documents (docemes and docs), and systems of documents. Research limitations/implications: Scholarship is extended with an eye toward holism; still, it is possible that important aspects of documents are overlooked. This framework serves as a stepping-stone along the continual refinement of methods for understanding documents. Practical implications: Both scholars and practitioners can consider documents through this framework. This will lead to further co-understanding and collaboration, as well as better education and a deeper understanding of all manner of document experiences. Originality/value: This paper fills a need for a common way to conceptualise documents that respects the numerous ways in which documents exist and are used and examined. Such coherence is vital for the advancement of document scholarship and the promotion of document literacy in society, which is becoming increasingly important.

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Experiencing the Bible

Gorichanaz, T. (2016). Experiencing the Bible. Journal of Religious & Theological Information, 15(1/2), 19–31.

Abstract. This study uses interpretative phenomenological analysis, a qualitative interview methodology, to examine the information experience of Catholic readers of the Bible. It presents a detailed, individual-focused account of how Catholics experience the Bible, in its diverse oral, print and digital manifestations, as a source of religious information. Participants in this study were found to experience the Bible as God's Word, with which they interface in three thematic ways: Connections, Journey and Practice. These themes are, in turn, linked by the processes of sharing, repetition and interpretation. This work extends previous research on the religious reading of believers and numinous document experience, and it contributes to a budding conceptualization of reading as an example of document work rather than a merely cognitive activity.

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Information and Experience, a Dialogue

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). Information and experience, a dialogue. Journal of Documentation, 73(3), 500–508.

Abstract. Purpose: Scholars in information science have recently become interested in “information experience,” but it remains largely unclear why this research is important and how it fits within the broader disciplinary structure of information science. The purpose of this paper is to clarify this issue. Approach: The discussion unfolds in the form of a philosophical dialogue between the Epistemologist, who represents the traditional and majority epistemological viewpoint of information science, and the Aestheticist, representing the emerging paradigm of experiential information inquiry. Findings: A framework emerges that recognizes dual conceptualizations of truth (veritas and aletheia) and consequently information and knowledge (gnostic and pathic). The epistemic aim of understanding is revealed as the common ground between epistemology and aesthetics. Value: The value of studying human experiences of information is grounded in work spanning philosophy, psychology and a number of social science methodologies, and it is contextualized within information science generally. Moreover, the dialogic format of this paper presents an opportunity for disciplinary self-reflection and offers a touch of heart to the field.

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The Information of Story: The Genre and Information Activities of Ultrarunning Race Reports

Gorichanaz, T. (2017). The information of story: The genre and information activities of ultrarunning race reports. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 69(4), 460–474.

Abstract. Purpose: This study explores the "race report" as a document genre in the serious-leisure pursuit of ultrarunning. Despite the sport's largely non-documental nature, race reports stand as an anomaly in their importance. This exploration serves as a springboard to investigate the informativeness of story in human life generally. Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative survey of the information behavior of ultrarunners was conducted. The 46 participants were runners in a 100-mile footrace in 2016. Responses were first analyzed through phenomenological theme analysis and then were subjected to a deductive audit using a framework of information activities validated for use in serious leisure pursuits. Findings: Race reports are bound up in information activities across the information--communication chain. Race reports help athletes choose races, prepare for races, pre-experience races, communicate their race experiences, gather new ideas, extend their training and, finally, find entertainment. Research limitations/implications: This discussion of genre is synchronic, largely limited to one moment in time, and its findings were limited in depth by the survey method. Further research should investigate race reports historically (diachronically) and infrastructurally. Originality/value: This work points to symbiosis between genre theory and information behavior theory. It also legitimizes narrative reasoning as a legitimate way of knowing, which has been largely unrecognized in information behavior. Some implications of this for information science and technology are discussed.

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