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RIN Physical Sciences Research Practices
Exploring the information seeking, organizing, archiving and communicating capacities of physical sciences communities as a study case (and role model) for effective information processing regimes and behaviours in complex problem-solving tasks. The methods for this project are a combination of measures of personal interviews, participants' information uses, and focus groups. They provide a thorough approach to understanding the range of information uses in the broad and diverse types of research that comprises the humanities, and how information behaviours are changing in light of broader changes in how information technologies are having an impact on scholarly information creation, management, use and dissemination. We will use semi-structured interviews with participants to capture information about the whole cycle of information behaviours and their uses of information resources. Logs of participant web browsing will be collected for a period of several research active days with follow-up interviews to discuss their user-specific information inventory. Participants will be asked to complete a diary entry for any information sources they consult that are not already being logged by their web browser. The web-use logs and diaries will be analysed to identify patterns of behaviour, problems and areas that might be improved by the adoption of new working practices or technologies. In the follow up interviews, they will be asked what they thought about the resources, and whether they had any problems with their use. Case study focus groups for each case will be convened, made up primarily of those people interviewed as part of the case study. The focus groups will be designed to elicit opinions both on the conclusions of the draft case studies, as well as to elicit additional information about uses of information in research contexts. We will also integrate additional data using techniques such as webometrics (a technique for finding links to and from web pages). This link analysis will focus both on the resources that we are using to recruit participants for the case studies, and on the most frequently cited information sources uncovering in the browser logs, information diaries, information drawings, interviews and focus groups. The multiple methods in this case involve automatic and manual data collection on information behaviours, personal interviews, focus groups, and webometrics; these will also be supplemented with desk research for the initial literature review and the final report. The methods being employed have been selected to complement each other to produce a holistic picture of the cases. We expect the final results to be much stronger and more well supported by data than would be possible using only one or two stand-alone methods.
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