A context-based study of serendipity in information research among Chinese scholars

A context-based study of serendipity in information research among Chinese scholars PurposeThe current understanding of serendipity is based primarily on studies employing westerners as the participants, and it remains uncertain whether or not this understanding would be pervasive under different cultures, such as in China. In addition, there is not a sufficient systematic investigation of context during the occurrence of serendipity in current studies. The purpose of this paper is to examine the above issues by conducting a follow-up empirical study with a group of Chinese scholars.Design/methodology/approachThe social media application “WeChat” was employed as a research tool. A diary-based study was conducted and 16 participants were required to send to the researchers any cases of serendipity they encountered during a period of two weeks, and this was followed by a post-interview.FindingsChinese scholars experienced serendipity in line with the three main processes of: encountering unexpectedness, connection-making and recognising the value. An updated context-based serendipity model was constructed, where the role of context during each episode of experiencing serendipity was identified, including the external context (e.g. time, location and status), the social context and the internal context (e.g. precipitating conditions, sagacity/perceptiveness and emotion).Originality/valueThe updated context model provides a further understanding of the role played by context during the different processes of serendipity. The framework for experiencing serendipity has been expanded, and this may be used to classify the categories of serendipity. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Documentation Emerald Publishing

A context-based study of serendipity in information research among Chinese scholars

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0022-0418
DOI
10.1108/JD-05-2017-0079
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeThe current understanding of serendipity is based primarily on studies employing westerners as the participants, and it remains uncertain whether or not this understanding would be pervasive under different cultures, such as in China. In addition, there is not a sufficient systematic investigation of context during the occurrence of serendipity in current studies. The purpose of this paper is to examine the above issues by conducting a follow-up empirical study with a group of Chinese scholars.Design/methodology/approachThe social media application “WeChat” was employed as a research tool. A diary-based study was conducted and 16 participants were required to send to the researchers any cases of serendipity they encountered during a period of two weeks, and this was followed by a post-interview.FindingsChinese scholars experienced serendipity in line with the three main processes of: encountering unexpectedness, connection-making and recognising the value. An updated context-based serendipity model was constructed, where the role of context during each episode of experiencing serendipity was identified, including the external context (e.g. time, location and status), the social context and the internal context (e.g. precipitating conditions, sagacity/perceptiveness and emotion).Originality/valueThe updated context model provides a further understanding of the role played by context during the different processes of serendipity. The framework for experiencing serendipity has been expanded, and this may be used to classify the categories of serendipity.

Journal

Journal of DocumentationEmerald Publishing

Published: May 14, 2018

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