What is Information Science?

Bates, Marcia J. 1999. The Invisible Substrate of Information Science. Journal of The American Society for Information Science 50 (12):1043-1050. Also available from Prof. Bates' web page.

The explicit, above-the-water-line paradigm of information science is well known and widely discussed. Every disciplinary paradigm, however, contains elements that are less conscious and explicit in the thinking of its practitioners. The purpose of this article is to elucidate key elements of the below-the-water-line portion of the information science paradigm. Particular emphasis is given to information science's role as a meta-science -- conducting research and developing theory around the documentary products of other disciplines and activities. The mental activities of the professional practice of the field are seen to center around representation and organization of information rather than knowing information. It is argued that such representation engages fundamentally different talents and skills from those required in other professions and intellectual disciplines. Methodological approaches and values of information science are also considered.

Saracevic, Tefko. 1999. Information science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 50 (12): 1051-1063. Also available from Prof. Saracevic's home page.

This essay is a personal analysis of information science as a field of scientific inquiry and professional practice that has evolved over the past half-century. Various sections examine the origin of information science in respect to the problems of information explosion; the social role of the field; the nature of "information" in information science; the structure of the field in terms of problems addressed; evolutionary trends in information retrieval as a major branch of information science; the relation of information science to other fields, most notably librarianship and computer science; and educational models and issues. Conclusions explore some dominant trends affecting the field.

White, Howard D., and Kate W. McCain. 1998. Visualizing A Discipline: An Author Co-citation Analysis of Information Science, 1972-1995. Journal of the American Society for Information Science 49 (4):327-355.

This study presents an extensive domain analysis of a discipline - information science - in terms of its authors. Names of those most frequently cited in 12 key journals from 1972 through 1995 were retrieved from Social Scisearch via DIALOG. The top 120 were submitted to author co-citation analyses, yielding automatic classifications relevant to histories of the field. Tables and graphics reveal: (1) The disciplinary and institutional affiliations of contributors to information science; (2) the specialty structure of the discipline over 24 years; (3) authors' memberships in 1 or more specialties; (4) inertia and change in authors' positions on 2-dimensional subject maps over 3 8-year subperiods, 1972-1979, 1980-1987, 1988-1995; (5) the 2 major subdisciplines of information science and their evolving memberships; (6) canonical authors who are in the top 100 in all three subperiods; (7) changes in authors' eminence and influence over the subperiods, as shown by mean co-citation counts; (8) authors with marked changes in their mapped positions over the subperiods; (9) the axes on which authors are mapped, with interpretations; (10) evidence of a paradigm shift in information science in the 1980s; and (11) evidence on the general nature and state of integration of information science. Statistical routines include ALSCAL, INDSCAL, factor analysis, and cluster analysis with SPSS; maps and other graphics were made with DeltaGraph. Theory and methodology are sufficiently detailed to be usable by other researchers.

Hawkins, Donald T., Signe E. Larson, and Bari Q. Caton. 2003. Information Science Abstracts: Tracking the Literature of Information Science. Part 2: A New Taxonomy for Information Science. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 54 (8):771-781.

This article continues earlier research on the development of a new definition of the field of information science and the creation of a "map" of the field showing subjects central to it and their relationships to those on the periphery. A case study describes the creation of a new classification structure (taxonomy) for the Information Science Abstracts (ISA) database, aiming to reflect and accommodate the rapid and continued technological and market changes affecting the information industry today and into the future. Based on a sample of some 3,000 ISA abstracts, two validation experiments were conducted by a three-member team comprising a database editor, a reference librarian, and an abstractor-indexer, who represent three of the major communities within the information science field. In the first experiment, the sample of abstracts was classified according to the proposed new taxonomy; after analysis of the data and revision of the taxonomy, it was revalidated and fine tuned in a second experiment. Indexer consistency measures obtained in this study were significantly higher than those found in previous studies. The taxonomy resulting from this research employs the concepts, definition, and map of information science previously developed. It presents them in an organized hierarchical view of the field and thus makes a significant contribution to information science.