Information Plus – my consulting toolkit is now open access

by | Oct 10, 2016 | Collaboration, Digital workplace, Information Management, Intranets, Search

I have two heros that I turn to time and time again for inspiration. For music it is J.S.Bach and for science it is Richard Feynman. The scale of the entry in Wikipedia gives a good sense of the scale of Feynman’s interests and achievements. Both were very dependent on what he often referred to as his toolbox. This was a vast set of mathematical processes that he used to solve the apparently unsolvable. Feynman was always approaching problems from a different direction to everyone else, using in effect a set of different mental models.

My own toolbox consists of the outcomes of academic and applied research carried out over the last 50 years into areas that might be broadly termed information management. As a chemistry major you quickly become adroit at understanding how research is published, and in the case of chemistry indexed in Chemical Abstracts. That interest has stayed with me for the last 35 years, and is responsible for my collection of around 100  books and some 2000 research papers. In the course of my consulting work I often find that the route to finding a solution for a client lies in the research literature. There is rarely a complete answer waiting to be implemented, but something more akin to the way in which the Rosetta Stone enabled the language encased in Egyptian hieroglyphics to be read for the first time.

I have now added a new section to the Resources category of the Intranet Focus website. It is called Information Plus because it consists of a series of pages each summarising key research in areas which begin with ‘information’. Among the sections that are now available are information behaviour, information charter, information life cycle, information quality, information relevance and information seeking. I plan to complete work on the remaining 16 by the end of 2016, though some sections may disappear and some may be added. Each will be updated if a significant new research resource becomes available. In effect Information Plus is my toolkit, and I am just following the trend in scientific research of making it open access.

Although much of the research is published in journals specifically about information topics (such as the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, International Journal of Information Management and the Journal of Information Science) the nature of information is that it lies very close to the surface of almost every area of human endeavour. For the last few years I have been writing a quarterly Perspectives column in Business Information Review (BIR). The aim of this column is to bring to the attention of readers of BIR important papers published in Sage journals that they may not be aware of. Some of the journals cited in recent columns have come from Human Factors, Ergonomics in Design, Health Informatics Journal and the  Journal of Defense Modeling and Simulation. Many of the papers in this column deal with collaboration and other aspects of team working.

It is easy to disparage academic research as not being grounded in the real world. However a significant number of research papers are based on real world case studies and apply a rigour to the information collection and analysis which intranet managers and other information professionals would not have the time and skills to replicate. The problem that many face is that they do not have access to this research because it is behind a subscription firewall. That is why I have tried only to include books and open access publications. Moreover the use of either Google Scholar or Microsoft Academic Research will often provide a link to an alternate source of the paper from a university server. I should add that Information Research is open access and is a very good source of papers on information management.

I would welcome comments on the scope of the Information Plus section, and on the style and value of the entries and especially about high-quality research that I have overlooked. If you are interested in how I approach client engagements then read my recent book ‘Managing Expectations – Building Client/Consultant Partnerships‘ published by Intranatverk.

Martin White