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The information seeking behaviour of advisors to policy-makers for homelessness in Ireland - Honohan


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Presented at LILAC 2017

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The information seeking behaviour of advisors to policy-makers for homelessness in Ireland - Honohan

  1. 1. The Information-Seeking Behaviour of Advisers to Policy-Makers for Homelessness in Ireland Caitríona Honohan MSc ILM, MA, BMus, ALAI LILAC 2017 @CaitHonohan Dissertation Supervisor: Dr. A J Pickard, Northumbria University Source: head-bookshelf-know-1632912/
  2. 2. Context Homeless adults accessing local authority managed emergency accommodation in Ireland: • 20-26 June 2016: 4,152 • 20-26 February 2017: 4,875 Source:
  3. 3. • July 2016: the Irish government launches its new Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness: Rebuilding Ireland • Some of the participants in my research had contributed to the preparatory meetings for that plan Five Pillars of the Plan 1. Address Homelessness 2. Accelerate Social Housing 3. Build More Homes 4. Improve Rental Sector 5. Utilise Existing Housing Source:
  4. 4. Evolution of a Research Question • Original question: is academic research into homelessness reaching the relevant policy-makers? evolved into: • researching the information-seeking behaviour of policy- makers which finally evolved into: • researching the information-seeking behaviour of their advisers
  5. 5. Source:
  6. 6. Aim: To study the information-seeking behaviour of advisers to policy-makers for homelessness in Ireland Objectives: 1. To identify how advisers to policy-makers access information. 2. To establish where they access information. 3. To investigate their thoughts and feelings when seeking information. 4. To identify the barriers and drivers to their information-seeking.
  7. 7. Literature Review • Information-seeking from the user’s perspective: The Kuhlthau Model • The affective domain in information-seeking • The Concepts of ‘Enough’ information and ‘Satisficing’ • The information-seeking of policy-makers and their advisers • Sense-making and Context in information-seeking • Information-seeking in the Online Environment • Motivation in Information-seeking
  8. 8. A pivotal stage in this study was a meeting with a senior civil servant in a government department My original plan was to conduct a Delphi study focussing on civil servants only However, on the advice of my key informant, I decided: • to conduct interviews instead of the Delphi study • to broaden the scope to include participants from different organisations Source:
  9. 9. The research question suggested a qualitative research method, to gain an understanding of the participants’ information-seeking processes from their points of view and their thoughts and feelings about the process of information- seeking. • Instrumental Case Study • Purposive Sampling • Interview Schedule Design • Data Collection: The Interview Process • Ethical Considerations Source: Methodology
  10. 10. Participants Semi-structured interviews (May-July 2016) • Two senior civil servants in government departments • Two representatives from homeless charities • Former adviser to a government minister • Regional local government official [All interviews took place in person]
  11. 11. Grounded theory approach Constant comparative technique Analysis Source:
  12. 12. Results (1) • Personal contacts are key in the information-seeking of these participants • Three key sources of information: (a) databases, (b) websites of trusted organisations and (c) libraries • Barriers: time constraints and a lack of or limited access to academic literature (due to financial restrictions) • Driver: effective communication and information sharing between organisations
  13. 13. Results (2) • The vast majority displayed ‘satisficing’ behaviour, due primarily to time constraints. ‘Satisficing’ is a blend of the words ‘satisfying’ and ‘sufficing’: in information behaviour research it means engaging in information-seeking behaviour that the users perceive is ‘good enough’ (Ford 2015). • Emotion plays an important role in the decision-making process regarding ‘enough’ information (Similar to Berryman 2006).
  14. 14. Suggested Ways Forward The following recommendations (presented in no particular order) were suggested by the participants: 1. The possibility of using big data analysis on homelessness data in Ireland could be considered, as has been done in the United States, Australia and Denmark. 2. A process to enable sharing of anonymised data between organisations involved with homelessness data and other organisations - such as the Health Research Board and the Central Statistics Office - could be devised (this is currently restricted by data protection).
  15. 15. 3. More research could be done on the Homelessness Data that is freely available on the website of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government. Academic researchers and students could be made more aware of this data. 4. More communication is needed between the government departments and the homeless charities. The Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS) database could be made more transparent to all stakeholders, perhaps by anonymising the data so it could be used by all stakeholders in a way that doesn’t breach data protection. Participant Suggestions
  16. 16. 5. A central portal of information regarding homelessness consisting of both the academic literature and the homelessness data could be set up for use by all stakeholders. 6. Free access to academic literature on homelessness could be provided to all stakeholders. This could be done in a number of ways, such as making funds available to enable access to literature or providing access to an academic library. Participant Suggestions
  17. 17. 7. Informal communication between individuals in organisations involved with homelessness and academic researchers needs to be maintained. A formal structure for this communication could be devised. Participant Suggestions Source:
  18. 18. References Berryman, J. M. (2006). What defines 'enough' information? How policy workers make judgements and decisions during information seeking: preliminary results from an exploratory study Information Research, 11(4), Paper 266. Berryman, J. M., & Parker, N. (2007). The Role of Affect in Judging "What is Enough?". In D. Nahl & D. Bilal (Eds.), Information and Emotion: The Emergent Affective Paradigm in Information Behavior Research and Theory (pp. 85-98). Medford, N.J: Information Today, Inc. Case, D. O. (2012). Looking for information: a survey of research on information seeking, needs, and behavior (3rd ed.). Bingley: Emerald. Corbin, J. M., & Strauss, A. L. (2015). Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (4th ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE. Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government. (2016). Homelessness Report June 2016. Retrieved from Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government. (2017). Homelessness Report February 2017. Retrieved from Dervin, B. (1998). Sense-making theory and practice: an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and use. Journal of Knowledge Management, 2(2), 36-46. doi:10.1108/13673279810249369 Ford, N. (2015). Introduction to information behaviour. London: Facet. Government of Ireland. (2016). Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness: Rebuilding Ireland. Retrieved from Kuhlthau, C. C. (1991). Inside the search process: Information seeking from the user's perspective. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 42(5), 361-371. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1097-4571(199106)42:5<361::AID-ASI6>3.0.CO;2-# Pickard, A. J. (2013). Research methods in information (2nd ed.). London: Facet.
  19. 19. Thanks • My Dissertation Supervisor Dr. A J Pickard, Northumbria University for her help, advice and support • My key informant for her advice and help • The participants in the study for their time and generosity • The Library of Trinity College Dublin for their support in attending this conference • The Cataloguing and Metadata Group of the Library Association of Ireland (CMG) for the CMG Bursary 2016 • My colleagues in the Academic & Special Libraries Section of the Library Association of Ireland (A&SL) for their advice and help
  20. 20. Questions? @CaitHonohan Source: