Deep critical information behaviour

A key project within the Libraries and Information Society research group.


This research aimed to understand more fully how young people go about searching for, evaluating, selecting and using information, in relation to their academic work.

We were particularly interested in discovering how we might help young people in schools and universities to maximise the effectiveness of their information seeking and information use.

The Principal Investigator was Professor Nigel Ford, and the other members of the research team were Mary Crowder, Dr Andrew Madden and Sheila Webber.

The project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council ran from 2010 to 2012. Using a mixed methods approach, it investigated the nature, extent and pattern of occurrence of relatively deep and surface Information Behaviours amongst young people at pre-university and undergraduate levels, studying in England. It also sought to investigate the extent to which, in the view of key stakeholders (i.e. educators, librarians and administrators), the development of deep IB could be enabled and fostered.

Stage 1 of the project comprised interviews and focus groups with learners and stakeholders. Between November 2010 and July 2011, 152 students, educators, librarians and support staff from participating establishments were interviewed.

Stage 2 consisted of a questionnaire-based survey carried out in schools, colleges and universities in South Yorkshire and the Midlands. A total of 1365 students at educational levels ranging from Key Stage 3 (11-13 years old) to postgraduates were surveyed.

Outputs from the project so far

A global reputation

Sheffield is a research university with a global reputation for excellence. We're a member of the Russell Group: one of the 24 leading UK universities for research and teaching.