Information work analysis: an approach to research on information interactions and information behaviour in context

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Isto Huvila


Information Research, Volume 13, Number 3 (2008)



cognitive work analysis, information behaviour, information management, information use, information work, work roles


Introduction. A work roles and role theory-based approach to conceptualise human information activity, denoted information work analysis is discussed. The present article explicates the approach and its special characteristics and benefits in comparison to earlier methods of analysing human information work.

Method. The approach is discussed in the light of the results of an empirically-based qualitative investigation of the information work of Finnish and Swedish archaeology professionals. The material was gathered in a series of twenty-five thematic interviews, which comprised a variety of different interview approaches.

Analysis. The data were analysed by using a grounded theory approach, which comprised iterative writing, schema analysis and validity checks.

Results. Information work analysis is an approach that explicitly focuses on information and work, from an information management point of view and perceives the two as social and cultural, instead of merely cognitive, issues. Unlike the information technology-oriented analytical frameworks, information work analysis aims at improving information work as a comprehensive enterprise instead of merely looking at how to develop a computerised information system.

Conclusions. Information work analysis provides a description and understanding of real world phenomena, but it is also an instrument, which aims at providing necessary premises for changing and developing the present state of affairs.


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