Adam Worrall

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Summer and Fall 2011, Spring 2012; with Dr. Michelle M. Kazmer

This course is directed independent study (DIS) credit intended to help students prepare for their preliminary examination. Students at FSU’s School of Information normally take these credits while writing four statements that define the areas they may be tested on during the exam. I took and successfully passed my exam the week of March 19th - 26th, 2012, answering one question for each of my four statements as summarized below. Some of the material from these statements formed the basis of my prospectus for my dissertation.

  • Major area: Social digital libraries, communities, and collaboration. I discussed and reviewed the social, community, and collaborative contexts of digital libraries, with a focus on supporting collaboration and building communities in and around them. I started by briefly discussing digital libraries in general and then proceeded to review conceptions of communities and collaboration. This provided necessary context for the focus of my major area statement, discussing social digital libraries in the context of building communities and supporting collaboration.

  • Minor area: Knowledge sharing and communities of practice. I reviewed these in mutual context as an area of research which, while outside my home field of information science, has significant implications for the research problems I am interested in surrounding social, collaborative, community-based digital libraries. I first presented a brief framing review of knowledge, knowledge management, and knowledge sharing and transfer, before discussing the development and application of communities of practice in detail. Then I reviewed the relations between communities of practice and knowledge sharing and transfer, including key critiques of the former in the context of the latter and two key factors—common ground and gatekeepers and boundary spanners—that play important roles in knowledge sharing in communities of practice and are of key importance for my research agenda.

  • Theory: Boundary object theory, also drawing on social worlds and information worlds. I discussed and reviewed the origins, development, and application of Star’s boundary object theory, analyzing and evaluating its concepts, propositions, and limitations. I also reviewed three related theories relevant to my major area of research — Strauss’s social worlds, Chatman’s normative behavior, and Burnett and Jaeger’s information worlds — in this context. In the last part of the statement, I considered how social digital libraries, as discussed in my major area statement, can be seen within this framework as boundary objects that play a role in the collaborative and community-building behaviors of their users and user communities.

  • Method: Qualitative interviewing. I discussed the use of qualitative interviewing as a methodology in social science research, including library and information science (LIS). In light of this and my other statements, I believe interviews can serve as the core of a multi-method study of digital libraries as boundary objects within and between communities, social worlds, and information worlds whose members are engaged in collaboration and information and knowledge sharing. I reviewed different forms of interviews, the process of conducting an interview-based study, and the commonly-used critical incident technique for interviewing.