Professor Nigel Ford

BA French Studies (Leeds), MA Librarianship (Sheffield)

Information School

Professor of Information Science
+44 114 222 2637

Full contact details

Professor Nigel Ford
Information School
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

After completing my MA in Librarianship at Sheffield, I worked as a Tutor Librarian at Edge Hill College (now University) where I developed my interest in educational aspects of information behavior through engagement with in-service teacher education and resource-based curriculum development at higher education level. Moving to a lecturing post in the Information School at Sheffield in 1981 (then the Postgraduate School of Librarianship and Information Science), I was able to indulge my enthusiasms for research and teaching, further developing my interests in information behaviour and educational informatics. In 2004 I was awarded a personal chair. After reaching retirement age in 2011, I moved to a part-time contract and am pleased to be able to maintain my involvement with the teaching and research of the School.

University Responsibilities

  • After reaching retirement age in 2011, I stepped down from my role as Director of Research and Head of the Educational Informatics Research Group, moving to a half time contract which enables me to continue to contribute to the teaching and research of the School.
Research interests

My primary research interests relate to information behaviour, information retrieval, and educational informatics. I have a particular interest in and have led a number of funded research projects which have investigated the effects of human individual differences on information behaviour, particularly within learning contexts. A key focus within this research has been cognitive styles.

I am a member of the Educational Informatics Research Group.

Research group

Completed PhD Students

Briony Birdi: An investigation of the reading of, and engagement with, minority genre fiction in public libraries, with a particular focus on materials written by Black British and British Asian authors.

Christopher Blackmore: The role of emotions in online learning.

Elizabeth Chapman: Provision of LGBT Fiction to Children and Young People in UK Public Libraries.

Xuguang Li: A study of knowledge sharing and construction in virtual product user communities.

Mostafa Syed: Developing the culturally competent public librarian: an investigation of diversity training for public libraries to support empathic service provision to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

Mads Kallehauge: Cognitive models for information seeking.

Yazdan Mansourian: The discovery of the hidden internet: developing essential strategies for accessibility in web environment.

Zapopan Muela Meza: An application of community profiling to analyse the information needs and issues affecting the people in Broomhall, Sheffield, and the roles of their information providers.

Samsiah Mustaffa: Perceptions and use of resource centres in teaching and learning at three teacher training colleges in Malaysia.

Robinah Namuleme: Information seeking in Ugandan universities.

Sayed Naser: Factors Influencing Perceived Trust on e-Voting Solutions: A Bahraini Community Leaders' and Election Officials' Perspective.

Jin Tan: The role of Weblogs in personal learning and knowledge sharing.

Rita Wan-Chik: Religious information seeking on the web: A case study of Islamic and Qur'anic information searching.

A Foster: Interdisciplinary information seeking behaviour: a naturalistic inquiry.

S Zakaria: Information processing strategies and styles in relation to instructional design: a grounded theory approach.

M Hepworth: Information processing strategies and styles in relation to instructional design: a grounded theory approach.

G Zafeiriou: Students' perceptions of issues arising from and factors influencing group interaction in computer conferencing: a grounded theory approach.

H S Lucas: Patterns of influence: a qualitative model of users' interactions with World Wide Web medical resources.

M Pedraza: Learning as a process of gaining control of the sources of information: a grounded theory approach based on evidence from Columbia.

M Lawes: The uptake and use of electronic networking technology by academic researchers in the UK.

S Y-H Chen: The role of individual differences and levels of learner control in hypermedia environments.

S Caregnato: Modelling the information skills development domain: a grounded theory approach to knowledge elicitation.


Research Projects


European Commission Investigator £42,496 1 January 2011 36 months

The project brings together experts in the field of science education, research and teacher communities, scientists and researchers involved in pioneering scientific research, policy makers and curriculum developers to promote the effective widespread use of inquiry and problem based science teaching techniques in primary and secondary schools in Europe and beyond. The aim of the project is to set the pathway toward a standard-based approach to teaching science by inquiry, to support the adoption of inquiry teaching by demonstrating ways to reduce the constrains presented by teachers and school organisation, to demonstrate and disseminate methods and exemplary cases of both effective introduction of inquiry to science classrooms and professional development programmes, and finally to deliver a set of guidelines for the educational community to further explore and exploit the unique benefits of the proposed approach in science teaching. In this way the project team aims to facilitate the development of communities of practitioners of inquiry that will enable teachers to learn from each other.

PATHS: Personalised Access to Cultural Heritage Spaces

European Commission Investigator £468,229 1 January 2011 36 months

The vision of the PATHS project is to enable: personalised paths through digital library collections; offer suggestions about items to look at and assist in their interpretation; and support the user in knowledge discovery and exploration. We aim to make it easy for users to explore cultural heritage material by taking them along a trial, or pathway, created by experts, by themselves or by other users.

Developing Deep Critical Information Behaviour

Arts and Humanities Research Council Investigator £216,115 16 August 2010 24 months

The research aims to understand more fully how young people go about searching for, evaluating, selecting and using information, in relation to their academic work. We are particularly interested in discovering the extent to which, and how, we might help young people in schools and universities to maximise the effectiveness of their information seeking and information use.

Developing effective Web-based information seeking for inquiry-based learning

Arts and Humanities Research Council Principal Investigator £318,423 1 August 2007 23 months

IT for me

Objective 1 Programme Directorate Principal Investigator £316,015 1 April 2003 36 months

Education for the evidence based citizenship improving pupils information seeking skills

Arts and Humanities Research Council Principal Investigator £129,348 1 July 2001 36 months


European Commission Investigator £71,504 1 September 2000 36 months