I’m one year into my master’s program and there were several themes shared between my classes even though each class was dedicated to a different topic. I don’t mean that each course was needed to meet my credit requirements. What I mean is each class picked readings and case studies that aliened with particular values and skill-sets that the school predicts graduates will need such as cooperative practices, professional ethics, and community involvement. For example, several classes touched on how information organizations are moving more towards a team-based structure instead of a traditional hierarchy structure. For professional ethics several classes used cased studies involving Indigenous materials that were discovered in collections, discussed patron privacy, and emphasized transparency and documenting how any why archive collections were intellectually arranged. Lastly, my most recent class deceptively titled “information behavior” required a deep dive in to user-based methods.
The final term paper directions were to “research a topic that relates to user-centered approaches within information environments to studying information needs of diverse constituencies and information services/resources meeting the needs of diverse constituencies”. Naturally I picked LGBTQIA+ as my topic because that’s a collection of diverse constituencies itself. I’m not here to rehash my paper, I want to skip to the good part of what I found in the research.
Word Cafe Methodology and World Mapping. Defined in their respective papers as “…a form of action research that develops collective knowledge among individuals and communities to address shared problems” and “an arts-based, participatory method that documents and triangulates contextual factors shaping people’s everyday information behaviors/practices”. For my paper I primarily used this article titled, Advancing information practices theoretical discourses centered on marginality, community, and embodiment: Learning from the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) communities and that’s the one I’m going to summarize because it did some really cool things with user-based methods.
The paper opens with “We align this paper with human‐centered explorations of information that address the social question of how people relate to, seek, and use information” in reference to Marcia J. Bates, who is considered one of the major influencers in Information Science.
Highlights from the Methods:
Kitzie, V. L., Wagner, T. L., Lookingbill, V., & Vera, N. (2022)…. https://doi-org.libezp.lib.lsu.edu/10.1002/asi.24594
- Semi‐structured interviews and information world mapping with 30 LGBTQIA+ community leaders from January—August 2019. We analyzed interviews using an open qualitative coding process and information world mapping using situational analysis.
- A half‐day community forum between 16 LGBTQIA+ leaders who participated in mapping and interviews and 14 library staff from across a Southeastern state in November 2019. The World Café methodology structured small‐table conversations about social and structural barriers to health information experienced by LGBTQIA+ communities and collaborative strategies that communities and library staff could adopt to address these barriers. We analyzed notes collaboratively taken by participants and observational ones taken by researchers using a similar open qualitative coding process to the semi‐structured interviews.
- Ongoing virtual focus groups and information world mapping with LGBTQIA+ individuals beginning in August 2020. As of this writing, we have conducted 7 focus groups with an average of 3–4 people per group for a total of 27 participants. We are currently engaged in theoretical sampling to conduct 3–4 additional focus groups that capture perspectives underrepresented in the data, chiefly across age categories, emphasizing teens and seniors, and race or ethnicity, focusing on Latinx or Latine groups. Qualitative data analysis consists of a mixture of etic coding informed by the codebooks developed during leader interviews and mapping. Emic coding is inductively derived from participant narratives and maps and nested under etic codes. Situational analysis of maps informed by preexisting etic codes is underway, but we have analyzed participant descriptions of their maps from the interview transcripts.
Although asexuals are included in the title as members of the LGBTQIA+ I don’t believe any were quoted in the the examples. However, the authors cited several Black participants as examples of how normative models failed to capture essential nuances related to intersecting identities. I got a lot of good information out of the paper and it was the corner stone to my term paper (which I did very well on as a result).
I personally don’t like conducting research. I’m very good at finding sources for essays and term papers, but academic research has really high barriers to entry and every single class I’ve taken on research and research methods has made me hate doing research. I really enjoyed learning about user-based methods, action research and participatory action research. My school seems to believe these methods are the ways of the future. There will always be a need for traditional research methods, but the cool thing about the sciences is they are prone to paradigm shifts and shake ups. I also thing that these methodologies are do-able for activist groups and charities.
(anywho, I had a terrible day at work and a coaching meeting to look forward to so I’m going to do the all self-care things and hope for the best)