Doctoral Posters #5-8
Abstract: The United Nations declaration of 1995-2004 and 2005-2014 as International Decades of the World’s Indigenous People challenged governments and the international community to address issues affecting indigenous communities, including the protection of traditional knowledge (TK). I hypothesize that the international forums that are debating TK protection are not fully engaging Indigenous communities in the debate and consequently, the proposals that are being advanced at these forums do not reflect the interests of TK holders. This study analyzes primary documents from various forums in order to identify the stakeholders in the debate, the claims that are made, and the ideologies that are dominating the agenda. The study also engages the local TK holders by eliciting the views of the Native Americans (in Canada, referred to as the First Nations) in order to further explore the issues identified from policy documents. The views and themes from the interviews are compared with those from primary policy documents and any conflict between the views from both sides is underscored. The intent is to examine how well the ongoing TK protection policy formation process engages the knowledge holders and reflects their views and needs. This study is an example of how Library and Information Studies (LIS) research in information policy, through community engagement, should inform policymakers.
Purpose/Objective of study: To ensure that the views of TK holders are known; To emphasize multiplicity of philosophies, worldviews, and episteme; and To emphasize the importance of paying attention to the cultural and ideological assumptions that the forums present.
Sample and Setting: 21 elders from Ontario’s First Nations groups have been interviewed. This non-proportional sample is justified by the fact that the interviews are aimed at giving an in-depth understanding of the research questions and of the evidence gathered from the primary policy documents rather than at precise statistical generalization of the sample to the population.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): This study gathers two kinds of qualitative evidence, which is then analyzed for themes.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): Through thematic text analysis of policy documents, the study identifies either recurring or changing themes and concepts in the texts. This documentary evidence is then supplemented through interviews with elders from Native American / First Nations communities.
Results: Analysis of data from the interviews in combination with evidence gathered from the various primary policy documents, various international indigenous peoples’ declarations, and member submissions to international forums indicate a disjoint between the views and needs of the knowledge holders and the proposals that are advanced at the various forums. This disjuncture emanate from an observed lack of community engagement in the debate due to a wide gap between the communities and policymakers. Because these communities are not invited to the policymaking table, they lack knowledge of the policies and the issues that the policies are meant to address.
Political Economy of Information
Purpose/Objective of study: My research analyzes the Canadian government’s biotechnology strategy through a neo-Marxist framework that draws on a number of elements from the autonomist Marxist tradition, as well as from the work of information theorists, such as Dan Schiller and Vincent Mosco. I demonstrate that the Canadian Biotechnology Strategy (CBS), beyond having implications for biotechnological production, directly impacts the manner in which the dominant actors involved in this science develop, manipulate, and disseminate biological information. A substantial part of my research is devoted to theoretically situating the informational aspects of biotechnology, including the increasing commodification of biotechnological information.
Sample and Setting: I employed a snowball approach that yielded 14 open-ended interviews with key informants of organizations mobilizing against various aspects of biotechnology. Interviews lasted approximately one hour. While it is impossible to provide an accurate size of the population of organized movements opposed to biotechnology issues in Canada, discussions with interview participants, coupled with my own documentary analysis, suggest that my sample approaches the actual population size.
Method (Qualitative, quantitative, historical, etc): I adopted a qualitative methodology that also finds its basis in autonomous Marxism. The study thus comprehends the logic of the capitalist development of biotechnology in Canada by interrogating the autonomous self-activity of the people and groups mobilized against it. Given the oppositional nature of such struggles, it is unlikely that documentary analysis alone would reveal the true scope of the informational issues involved. This is especially true of documents emanating from the government and corporate sector, both of which support the commercialization of biotechnology in Canada. Moreover, it could be the case that the limited resources available to resistance movements circumscribe the documentary material they can make available. Interviews helped ensure that important evidence was not omitted from the study.
Data collection technique(s) (Interviews, questionnaires, focus groups, etc): I completed interviews with 14 key informants involved with organizations opposed to particular aspects of biotechnology. Depending on preference and location of interviewees, I conducted the interviews either in person, at the office of the participant, or by telephone. I detected no substantial difference in respect of quality or depth of information provided between these two modalities of data collection. To ensure methodological rigour, I engaged in a documentary analysis of the CBS that includes position briefs, publications, and other documents produced by various departments and agencies of the Government of Canada, as well as documents from alternative sources, including relevant trade and academic publications.
Results: My research revealed the broad scope of informational issues involved in biotechnology. These range from the actual information-driven nature of this science to issues of how to best catalogue the information that derives from the research and establish libraries of genetic resources and information. Another major finding is how contested this science is in Canada. Many organizations have developed critical stances toward the way biotechnology is being developed and promoted. Several groups have engaged in critical analysis of the informational issues involved in biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the way that this science and its technologies, coupled with intellectual property rights, are locking up information developed in the public domain for millennia.
Abstract: Using data archived from Intellectual Freedom and Library Services for Youth, an online, graduate-level course at GSLIS and interviews with former students, I identify effective elements in reflective practitioner education, including the following course design and pedagogical strategies:
I focus on course discussions and scenarios surrounding pornography and the Children’s Internet Protection Act, both because these were the issues that generated the most interesting discussions around scenarios and professional ethics, and because of their centrality to the critiques mounted against the library profession and in current censorship controversies.
Purpose/Objective of Study: The purpose of this project is to develop a critical pedagogy of intellectual freedom by tracing the impact of LIS education on subsequent library practice. I seek feedback from former students in order to discover what aspects of the course were useful to them in the field, which were not, and what additional preparation might be desirable in similar LIS courses, or courses in which there is a discrete intellectual freedom/censorship component. I also argue that this interactive model of LIS education can better inform future decisions about LIS course design and pedagogy generally.
Sample and Setting: Using data archived from two iterations of Intellectual Freedom and Library Services for Youth in 2005 and 2007, and hour-long telephone interviews with ten former students conducted in 2006-2007, I analyze both the course itself and related student feedback, using archived lectures, discussion logs, bulletin boards, and interviews approximately one year after course completion.
Method: I extend research in the sociology of the professions that interrogates the theory/practice divide, especially Daniel Schn’s work on reflective practice and educating reflective practitioners. To Schn’s approach, I add the feminist practice of consciousness-raising as applied to the experience of being a child, a teenager, and (if applicable) a parent in order to challenge future practitioners to think critically about intellectual freedom and censorship in both their personal and professional lives.
Data collection techniques: I use a combination of telephone interviews and content analysis of both archived course data, my notes/lesson plans, and the syllabi themselves.
Results: Interviews and course data reveal that, in order to effectively manage censorship controversies in libraries and hone their professional judgments, librarians need to combine professional resources with situation-, organization-, and community-specific judgments. Preparing students to make these judgments involves a variety of pedagogical strategies, including interrogating the ethic of intellectual freedom itself. Personal reflections on experiences as a child and/or teenager with censorship, access to information, and/or freedom in reading selection also serve to productively inform and inflect professional ethics.
LIS Education and Programs
Purpose/Objective of study: The purpose of this study is to explore how academic expectations influence the career choices of students enrolled in a Library and Information Science (LIS) graduate program.
Sample and setting: Five students enrolled in a LIS graduate program at a large university in the Southeast participated in the study. At the time of data collection (April 2007), all five students were completing their last semester of coursework prior to graduation.
Method: This study used a qualitative methodology. A phenomenological approach was used for data collection in order to examine the influence of academic expectations on career choices from the point of view of the participants. A grounded theory approach was the basis for data analysis, which allowed for the constant comparison of emergent categories and themes for use in theory-building.
Data collection techniques: Participants were recruited for the study via a snowball (“word-of-mouth”) technique through a graduate student in the LIS program with whom the researcher is acquainted. Participants were interviewed using a semi-structured, one-on-one, face-to-face interview method so that the participants could describe in their own words the ways in which their academic expectations influenced their career choices. Permission to conduct the interviews was granted by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Tennessee, and each participant signed an informed consent statement before being interviewed. Prior to each interview, the researcher explained the purpose of the research to the participant.
During the interview, the participant was asked to describe his or her career choice, as well as how his or her academic expectations helped shape the career choice. Probing questions were asked in order to invite the participant to further explain a particular point. Each interview was audio-recorded with permission of the participant. Audio-recorded data were transcribed by hand and word-processed into field notes. Transcriptions were verbatim in order to ensure integrity of the analysis of the data.
The interview guide was piloted so that appropriate modifications could be made to the guide; therefore, the results of the study are limited to four of the five participants, since it was felt that the participant who piloted the guide might be influenced by prior exposure to the guide. Additionally, the study is limited to the social network of the participant initially contacted by the researcher.
Results: This study found that LIS students were more concerned with graduating “on time” than in waiting for a course offering relevant to their career choices. Job salary and job placement held primacy over academic pursuits, which supports previous research that suggests economic motivations as playing a major role in LIS career decision-making. The findings of this study indicate that LIS students’ academic expectations are influential to their career choices only to the extent that students shape their career interests based on what they do learn, rather than on what they expect to learn, in the classroom.