The aim of the study is to analyse theory growth in information science by using a case from information seeking studies. Scientific growth is identified with the growth of theories. Three contexts of theoretical work are differentiated: unit theories, theoretical research programmes and metatheories. For analysis of theory growth tools based on the current theory of science are needed. The study introduces tools for the analysis of theory growth and theory reconstruction and applies them to analysis of a theory on information seeking. Tools include the systematisation and formalisation of theories. The usefulness of these tools is illustrated by reconstructing a theory used in a current information seeking study. It is shown that they help in specifying the theory in the following ways: 1. in stating the central concepts and their relations; 2. in revealing implicit restrictions of the theory; and 3. in facilitating the derivation of additional hypotheses from the theory’s axioms, especially by showing the mechanisms which interconnect the concepts of the theory. The results of reconstruction, specification and enrichment of the theory show future prospects for developing it and thus it creates potential growth of knowledge within the theory of information seeking.
Journal of Documentation – Emerald Publishing
Published: Dec 1, 1997
Keywords: Information retrieval; Science; Theory
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