PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to advance an understanding of the concept of advice and its relationship to documents, information and knowledge.Design/methodology/approachA conceptual analysis of a sample of 48 relevant advice studies and two books, directly informed by documentation and information theories, was conducted to find out how researchers have approached advice conceptually since 1940. Further gains in understanding advice came from analyzing its relationship with environmental uncertainty.FindingsResearchers have studied advice in the context of human-human, machine-machine and information and communication technology-intermediated interactions. Advice has been conceptualized and categorized in many different ways. Over time, conceptualizations of advice have broadened and become more general. In this light, it is theorized that advice is as an information object targeted at an unmade decision. This conceptualization of advice permits situated and momentary advice documents. A newly developed content-based framework of advice leads to an advice typology with four content-based categories of best possible advice: correct answers, probabilities, possibilities, and acknowledgments of the unknown.Research limitations/implicationsThe refined advice theory, content-based advice framework and related typology of advice contributed here are small steps toward improved clarity about the nature of advice. These findings are limited in their focus to advice theory and advice categorization.Practical implicationsScholars, practitioners and information system developers may reconsider advice theory and make use of the content-based framework and related advice typology in their work. These contributions will help advice-givers and the developers of advice-giving information systems and advice networks to provide better advice.Originality/valueThis paper fills a need for a clear and straightforward overall conceptualization of advice that accounts for advice documents and is informed by how advice has been previously conceptualized in multiple scientific fields.
Journal of Documentation – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 2, 2019
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