Year: 1991

Author: Edwards, Susan E., Burgess, Susan F.

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The impetus for this research was an article by Pauline Wilson in which she blamed academics in library and information science for not developing a research ethic, the lack of which was hampering the growth of knowledge in the field. Wilson said that "library educators have not been fully socialised in their role as the academic segment of a profession and as university faculty" [1979, p. 7]. Wilson was not, of course, the first to address the problem of the slow growth of knowledge in library and information science. Others [e.g. Grotzinger 1975; Shaughnessy 1976; Houser & Schrader 1978; Freeman 1985] have also addressed the problem. But what was different about Wilson's article was her quite detailed proposal for someone to do research which could shed a more illuminating light on the reasons for this. This is the challenge which we accepted. The research which had been done on academics in our field prior to our study had focused on library and information science academics' personal characteristics [Danton 1978; Denis 1979] research productivity [Lane 1975; White and Momonee, 1978] and attitudes toward research [Katz 1975]. Generally the interpretation of these findings has been that library and information science academics have been found wanting and that they lacked the scholarly attributes found in academics from other fields. However, when you look at the studies of academics in general [e.g. Fulton and Trow 1979; Parsons and Platt 1973; Rich and Jolicoeur 1978] there is considerable variation among academics in their values, attitudes, activities, etc., particularly as these relate to research and publication. Indeed, a number of studies have found that many academics do no research, and publish very little, if at all. These differences have been found regardless of the type of institution and within individual colleges and universities, fields of study, departments etc. Academics in professional schools are particularly diverse. For example, Katz found that attitudes toward research differed more among library educators that between the library academics and the social scientists she studied. The previous research suggested to us that the search for and description of a research group in library and information science might help illuminate the potential for an increase in research. The purpose of our study was to determine whether there is a research-oriented group of Australian library and information science academics (that is, a group concerned with the advancement of the body of knowledge through systematic inquiry). And, if there is such a group, what characteristics are associated with that group, and what are the reasons for membership of the group.