Introduction to Information Behaviour

Customers outside of North America (USA and Canada) should contact Facet Publishing for purchasing information.

ALA Member
Item Number
Facet Publishing, UK

Primary tabs

You don't need to be an ALA Member to purchase from the ALA Store, but you'll be asked to create an online account/profile during the checkout to proceed. This Web Account is for both Members and non-Members. 

If you are Tax-Exempt, please verify that your account is currently set up as exempt before placing your order, as our new fulfillment center will need current documentation. Learn how to verify here.

  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the author
  • Reviews

This landmark textbook is an essential primer for students and practitioners interested in information seeking, needs and behavior, user studies and information literacy. Ford uses a combination of theory and practical context to map out what information behavior is and what we currently know about it, before addressing how it can be better understood in the future. He argues that new understandings of information behavior research may help maximize the quality and effectiveness of the way information is presented, sought, discovered, evaluated and used.

The book introduces the key concepts, issues and themes of information behavior, illustrates them using key research studies, and provides a clear path through the complex maze of theories and models. The book is structured to move from the basics to the more complex and employs the pedagogical device of "THINK" boxes which invite the reader to think about concepts as they are introduced in order to consolidate their understanding before moving on. Case studies are included throughout the text and each chapter concludes with a round-up of what has been covered, highlighting the implications for professional information practice. The key topics covered include:

  • Defining information behavior and why is it useful to know about it;
  • Information needs;
  • Information seeking and acquisition;
  • Collaborative information behavior;
  • Factors affecting information behavior;
  • Models and theories of information behavior;
  • Research approaches and methodologies;
  • Designing information systems; and
  • The future trajectory of information behavior research and practice

1. Introduction

1.1. References

2. What is information behavior and why do we need to know about it?

2.1. Introduction
2.2. Defining "data", "information" and "behavior"
2.3. Defining "information behavior"
2.4. Information behavior and cognate areas
2.5. Summary
2.6. References

3. Changing conceptions of information needs

3.1. Introduction
3.2. Information needs
3.3. Information-related needs
3.4. Summary
3.5. References

4. Information seeking and acquisition are key components of information behavior

4.1. Introduction
4.2. Basic information seeking processes and activities
4.3. Information seeking strategies
4.4. Serendipity
4.5. Case study: serendipity
4.6. Summary
4.7. References

5. Information behavior can be collaborative

5.1. Introduction
5.2. Definitions
5.3. Characteristics of collaborative information behavior
5.4. Case study: collaborative information behavior
5.5. Summary
5.6. References

6. Factors influencing information behavior

6.1. Introduction
6.2. "Internal" factors
6.3. External influences
6.4. The relationship between "internal" and "external" factors
6.5. Summary
6.6. References

7. Models and theories in information behavior research

7.1. Introduction
7.2. Models of information behavior
7.3. Theories of information behavior
7.4. Summary
7.5. References

8. Research approaches

8.1. Introduction
8.2. Different types of research – and different types of knowledge
8.3. Research paradigms
8.4. Research methodologies and methods
8.5. Assessing quality in research
8.6. The "darkness to light" ratio
8.7. Research and practice
8.8. Summary
8.9. References

9. Research methodologies in action

9.1. Introduction
9.2. Hypothesis testing: a deductive quantitative study
9.3. Situational Analysis: an inductive qualitative study
9.4. Mixed methods research: a mixed Methods study
9.5. Comparing approaches
9.6. Summary
9.7. References

10. Using knowledge of information behavior to design information systems

10.1. Introduction
10.2.    Cole's "enabling" information retrieval system interface
10.3.    The PATHS project
10.4.    Supporting serendipitous knowledge discovery: the IF-SKD model
10.5.    Summary
10.6.    References

11.    Conclusion

11.1. References

Nigel Ford

Nigel Ford is Professor of Information Science at Sheffield University, UK and is currently Deputy Director of the Information School's Centre for Information Literacy Research. He has taught information behavior at undergraduate and Masters level for 30 years and is a leading researcher in the field, with an extensive publication record spanning journals and books.

"Ford has managed to maintain academic rigor in his analysis of the research that has been carried out whilst also writing a book that will be of great value to students of any information-related discipline as well as intranet and search managers."
— Martin White, Intranet Focus

"Ford has written a truly organic work in contrast to other similar books that are essentially listings. Ford deliberately simplifies the confusing, chaotic picture of information behavior concepts and research for his intended audience .... such an ably useful and sophisticated rendering of a complex research field was extremely interesting."
— Charles Cole, Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology