Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Empowering Accelerated Personal, Professional and Scholarly Discovery among Information Seekers: An Educational Vision

Academic journal article Journal of Education for Library and Information Science

Empowering Accelerated Personal, Professional and Scholarly Discovery among Information Seekers: An Educational Vision

Article excerpt

The term discovery applies herein to the successful outcome of inquiry in which a significant personal, professional or scholarly breakthrough or insight occurs, and which is individually or socially acknowledged as a key contribution to knowledge. Since discoveries culminate at fixed points in time, discoveries can serve as an outcome metric for both inquirers and the information professionals who support inquiry. First, the primacy of information seeking behavior is explored, particularly its key role in guiding the development of various kinds of supportive information architectures and services. Second, three models of the discovery process are presented, with suggested ways to accelerate discovery via each model. Last, a case is made for developing a strategic vision for LIS and iSchool education. This educational vision involves augmenting information behavior theory with a generalized art and science of search, research and accelerated discovery, and the development of systems and technologies to prompt discovery.

Keywords: discovery, discovery content analysis, information seeking, information behavior, search, research, information studies education

Editors' note: Dr. Harmon died on February 1 7, 201 3, before this article came to press. Dr. Harmon contributed extensively to the LIS field through his long career that included 43 years on the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. The editors' introduction to this issue of JELIS (Volume 54, Number 2) includes an extended description of Dr. Harmon's academic life that was shared with us by the University of Texas at Austin School of Information. We are saddened by Dr. Harmon's death and deeply honored to be publishing this paper in the pages of JELIS.- Michelle Kazmer & Kathy Burnett


The term discovery has been defined in numerous ways throughout recorded history and has many alternative meanings. Each discovery is highly context and time dependent. Discovery can apply to various contexts and circumstances: to the learning and education process; to geographical discovery of different regions; to the cosmological discovery of hitherto unobserved stars and planets; to discovery of new microorganisms; to technological or social innovations; to the discovery of mathematical and scientific equations; to social science laws and trends; and to various kinds of personal and subjective discoveries. Alternatively, old phenomena might be seen in a new light or novel way, thereby rendering previous models, theories or paradigms as obsolete or as special cases of newer, more abstract perspectives.

Because the concept of discovery and its variations can be applied widely to all information seekers and across multiple domains of knowledge, the concept of discovery can provide one key basis for the development of information systems or information studies programs and their curriculum offerings. As professional practitioners, whether in libraries, archives, museums or other organizations or environments, graduates of iSchool and LIS programs will be on the front lines of facilitating their clientele's accelerated personal, professional, or scholarly discovery.

Accordingly, this paper explores and makes a case for developing a targeted educational initiative for LIS and iSchools - that of educating their students and encouraging their alumni to promote accelerated discovery throughout the arts, sciences, professions and the general public. Within information science and professionalism, the concept of discovery potentially provides an integrative purpose and clear outcome metric for information seekers - the successful culmination of inquiry. Discovery acceleration heuristics can also guide the development and operation of numerous, supportive information infrastructures, including ubiquitous information environments. The mission of accelerated discovery can also serve to bridge longstanding divisions or distinctions within the information professions (e. …

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