Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Little About Research - A Little About Me

Of what I have read so far in this new semester (in the 3rd week now), I found Carol Collier Kuhlthau's Information Search Process to be very interesting. It reminds me of a funnel of thoughts… where you start out with a whole bunch of scattered thoughts and ideas that you keep narrowing down until you get to a final concept – kind of like when a tornado touches down when it has gathered enough power/force/strength.
What I liked were the steps in the Information Search Process:

  • Initiation, when a person first becomes aware of a lack of knowledge or understanding and feelings of uncertainty and apprehension are common. 
  • Selection, when a general area, topic, or problem is identified and initial uncertainty often gives way to a brief sense of optimism and a readiness to begin the search. 
  • Exploration, when inconsistent, incompatible information is encountered and uncertainty, confusion, and doubt frequently increase and people find themselves “in the dip” of confidence. 
  • Formulation, when a focused perspective is formed and uncertainty diminishes as confidence begins to increase.
  • Collection, when information pertinent to the focused perspective is gathered and uncertainty subsides as interest and involvement deepens. 
  • Presentation, when the search is completed with a new understanding enabling the person to explain his or her learning to others or in some way put the learning to use.
(Kuhlthau, 2010)

Another particular thought that crossed my mind after reading was that information technology really has created additional confusion and uncertainty. It would be interesting to see how difficult it would be to continue teaching library users the right information seeking behaviors in order to help combat the uncertainty and confusion brought on by the Internet.

I think that I have experienced the various stages of the Information Search Process as described by Kulthau. I've also found myself going through the steps of The Big6, and I do wonder if that is because that has become a standard in K-12 schools. I have always tried to identify the problem and then try to brainstorm different ways to solve it. Another research model I am familiar with is the Scientific Method, mainly because of the various science classes that I've taken that involved formulating a hypothesis and then running trials to get results. I think that trying to come up with a hypothesis is the hardest part – and to get to that point you have to do a lot of brainstorming and eliminate ideas as well as come up with appropriate wording. A hypothesis is a lot like a thesis, where you try, try again. In a previous post I mentioned having done market research where while doing surveys you do have to reword survey questions fairly often until you get an easy to understand and unbiased question. The thought process for a survey usually starts from a clutter and slowly gets refined and when I was finally able to go and gather my primary research, it felt good knowing that I was asking for the right information in the right way.

One thing I found interesting was the standards created by The Association of College and Research Libraries that offer some guidance when collecting research. I like how the standards end up breaking down the process of gathering research and then interpreting it into a report. This set of standards helps keep you on track and creates a set of goals that you can aspire/look to during your own research process.

I hope to be able to explore more ways to prepare my thoughts/ideas and be able to turn them into future research. There are many different frameworks that can be applied to research, and since (as mentioned in an earlier post) I am very interested in hands-on research, I'd like to learn more about focus groups and how to better work with people for information gathering purposes.


American Library Association. (2000). Information literacy competency standards for higher education. Retrieved from the ALA website:

Eisenberg, M. (2011, Jan 26). What is the big6. Retrieved from

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Information search process. Retrieved from

Wolfs, F. A. (2010). Appendix E: Introduction to the scientific method. Retrieved from the Home Page of Frank L. H. Wolfs:

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear - I'd LOVE to talk to you about some of this in more detail. And if I hadn't had you as a student previously I probably wouldn't be saying that - but hopefully you know it is about stretching. So let me ask - the right information seeking behaviors? Hmmm..... Worth thinking about what you mean.
    I have similar thoughts around the scientific method and its connection to information seeking, and IL standards. Interesting to see that emerging.
    You are off to a really good start