Academic interests

My interests are in how documents convey information and knowledge, and promote understanding, and on new forms of document, aligning with the CityLIS Documents of the Future project, and a particular focus on philosophical, theoretical and ethical aspects. This includes aspects of the history and futurology of documents, information behaviours and literacies, and the changing role of the information- and document-centred professions.

More specifically, my interests fall into three main areas:

  • foundations of the information sciences, including conceptions of information in different domains, philosophy of information, and the information disciplines themselves: more details here
  • Documentation and information resources: 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

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 mainly carry out 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 11, will be held in Oslo in 2022 I believe that this series of conference encapsulates the best of academic research in the information sciences.

In the 2021 UK Research Excellence Framework, I am a member of the panel for UoA34, which covers LIS research, as I was for UoA36 in REF2014. 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, for Horizon2020, and for several national research agencies. 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, including the British Library, Aslib and CILIP.

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