Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine whether there is a need to consider gender or sex differences as variables in information behaviour research and, if so, how? Design/methodology/approach – A metasynthesis approach is used. A preliminary framework to categorise information behaviour research on women is developed by integrating main themes from feminist research and information behaviour research. Within each category, studies are compared and contrasted, to identify similar and divergent themes. Themes are then compared across categories, to synthesise the main concepts. Findings – The categorisation works for most studies, apart from a group of studies on health information use, communicating risk and decision making. The meta‐synthesis indicates the importance of concepts such as situation (as mesh), intermediaries (as node with connections), and connecting behaviour. Gender‐related or, rather gender‐ascribed, constructs, such as concern for others, not gender alone are likely to be important variables in information behaviour. Research limitations/implications – The meta‐synthesis is a top‐level synthesis, as the number of studies prohibited a more detailed approach. Further meta‐synthesis of a few high quality research studies would help to confirm the findings. Practical implications – The synthesis illuminates a different perspective on information behaviour: the network of information users rather than the individual information seeker. Originality/value – The synthesis integrates some feminist research themes with information behaviour research, and the findings have implications for general information behaviour research.
Journal of Documentation – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 19, 2010
Keywords: Information strategy; Sex and gender issues; Women; Feminism
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