Academic interests

My interests (research, scholarship, teaching and consultancy) fall into three main areas:

  • foundations of the information sciences, including conceptions of information in different domains, information and research in the library/information disciplines, and education for library/information science: more details here
  • information resources and documents, their nature, use and organization, historical development, and new forms of document: more details here
  • information behaviour, particularly those aspects associated with individual differences, with developing understanding, and with digital literacy and information fluency: more details here
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    In all three of these areas, I am particularly focused in applications in the domains I have previously studied and worked in: science, particularly chemistry, and healthcare, particularly pharmaceuticals. I also have an interest in information history, looking at both resources and behaviour, as well as the ways in which information issues were understood in the past.

    I am concerned to foster links between theory and practice in the information sciences, stemming from my experience as a practitioner for twelve years in research information services in the pharmaceutical industry.

    Most of my work is individual scholarship, together with supervision of research students and masters dissertation students. I favour research by conceptual analysis and synthesis: see my paper On the gaining of understanding; syntheses, themes and information analysis.

    I was programme director for the CoLIS 7 conference held in London in 2010, and am a member of the international advisory board for the CoLIS conferences, the next of which CoLIS 9 will be held in Uppsala in 2016. I believe that this series of conference encapsulates the best of academic research in the information sciences.

    In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework, I was a member of the panel which considered Library and Information Management research. I am a member of the peer review colleges for the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and for the UK Economic and Social Research Council, and a project evaluator for the Leverhulme Trust, and the Slovenian National Research Agency. I have been an Aslib Council member, and a member of the UNESCO information literacy expert panel.

    I have acted as a consultant for a number of UK and international organisations, including Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Ciba-Geigy, Forensic Science Service, Health Development Agency, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, Taylor and Francis, Clifford Chance, Oxford University Press, the London Fire Brigade, the BBC and News International. I have been a consultant /evaluator for the Open Society Institute’s Library Program and Information Program. This as led to a number of continuing collaborations with international information organisations, and with and academic LIS departments, particularly in Central Europe.

    I have carried out professional development training for a number of organisations, and I currently do so for Aslib, leading courses in information management and information organisation.

    I am editor of Journal of Documentation, the leading European journal of the information science, and on the editorial board of Portal: Libraries and the Academy, of Aslib Journal of Information Management and of Facet’s Foundations of the Information Sciences series. In the past I have been on the boards of a number of journals, including International Journal of Information Management, Journal of Chemical Information and Computer Sciences, Perspectives in Information Management, and ATLA: Alternatives to Laboratory Animals. I am particular interested, in theory and practice, in how the academic journal is developing in the new environment of digital content and open access.