Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Discipline Formation in Information Management: Case Study of Scientific and Technological Information Services

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Discipline Formation in Information Management: Case Study of Scientific and Technological Information Services

Article excerpt


Discipline formation is a study of interest to academics who seek to define the boundaries of their fields of endeavor. This is so that effective contextualization can take place for study of a field by means of models for representing shared concepts; coherent expression being given to research programs; commonly accepted methods of investigation; and employing principles and values about which there is concurrence within a professional community.

Analysis of discipline formation in information studies has taken various forms. These range from investigation of the overlapping concerns of professional associations though to compilations of seminal papers, which provide underpinning principles. However, most examination is of conceptual boundaries. Articulation of what comprises the discipline varies considerably according to the perspective, training and context of who is expressing it. So there are disparities between information science, information systems, information management, knowledge management, library science and the like. These are explored briefly in the following section as a preamble to a historical study of the initiation of an application of information management in Australia.

This study is being undertaken both as an investigation of discipline formation per medium of utilization of principles in a nascent profession, and to provide a historical record of the development of a particular type of in formation service--that which deals with scientific and technical information (STI). This paper reports on one case as a model for several other cases on genesis and development of Australian STI services. These studies in turn form part of a wider study of discipline formation in information management. A research question is therefore: does the provision of STI services provide an effective exemplar for the discipline of information management?

The study is undertaken using a protocol that considers the services as information management applications. These applications are analyzed in terms of overlapping administrative, analytical and operational domains. This domain approach was expressed by Diener (1992), and used to organize a book illustrating principles and practice of information management (Middleton, 2002). The discipline as expressed in the book forms the basis of the case study protocol.

The development of STI services in Australia was stimulated during the 1960s by several factors. These included improved mechanisms for information dissemination, and developments in information policy. However, in some respects progress was achieved in spite of policy frameworks and the lack of coordination between the lead institutions that established and provided the services.

Most STI services developed in Australia were initiated in the 1970s accompanied by concerns about the proportion of national material that was not appearing in international databases, a growing desire to address public policy concerns about provision of information, and establishment through information technology of the technical capacity to provide such services. A review of these influences has been presented by Middleton (2004).

This study is confined to an analysis of one service, the Australian Earth Sciences Information Service (AESIS), but makes some reference to a number of other services being developed at the time. The initial investigation is based upon operational experience with several services along with a literature and database review, and interviews. It therefore provides a descriptive history of one such service, along with commentary on the factors contributing to its establishment, and development in the light of other STI services.

Disciplinary Study of Information Management

There have been many years of debate on what comprises the defining knowledge of the field of information science. Several works have provided overviews and debate about disciplinary boundaries. …

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