• A Research Method to Investigate Information Seeking using the Concept of Information Horizons: An Example from a Study of Lower Socio-economic Studentsâ Information Seeking Behavior

      Sonnenwald, Diane H.; Wildemuth, Barbara M.; Harmon, Gary L. (2001)
      Winner of the Association of Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) Research Methodology Best Paper in 2001 Award. Abstract: As research questions and topics in information studies evolve, there is a continual need to seek out innovative research methods to help us investigate and address these questions. This paper presents an emerging research method, the creation and analysis of information horizon maps, and discusses the use of such maps in an ongoing research study. Sonnenwald's (1999) framework for human information behavior provides a theoretical foundation for this method. This theoretical framework suggests that within a context and situation is an 'information horizon' in which we can act. Study participants are asked to describe several recent information seeking situations for a particular context, and to draw a map of their information horizon, graphically representing the information resources (including people) they typically access in this context and their preferences for the resources accessed. The resulting graphical representation of their information horizons are analyzed in conjunction with the interview data using a variety of techniques derived from social network analysis and content analysis. In this paper these techniques are described and illustrated using examples from an ongoing study of the information seeking behavior of lower socio-economic students. They are then compared to other techniques that could be used to gather data about people's information seeking behavior.