Modelling Nonlinear Information Behaviour: Transferability and Progression

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Purpose – This paper aims to report on a project aimed at moving Foster's nonlinear model of information seeking behaviour forwards from an empirically based model focused on one setting and towards one that is robustly transferable and enables testing of the model in other information-seeking situations.

Design/methodology/approach – The method utilised recoding of the original dataset, comparison of code decisions, and testing of the code book on a second dataset.

Findings – The results of the coding confirm the structure and interactions in version one of the model. The dynamic and nonlinear nature of information seeking is confirmed, as are the core processes and contextual dimensions of the original model with some extension and refinement of coding.

Practical implications – Changes to the model include new scales of extent and intensity, refinement of code descriptions, and extension of some elements to include multidisciplinary theories. Collectively these changes enable testing of the model in other information situations and opportunities for further research.

Originality/value – The results incorporate a number of enhancements that have been developed since the original Foster model was created; cognitive dimensions relating to personality and learning are enhanced and the codes essential to the revised Foster model are described along with a code book. The paper concludes by highlighting areas for further research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)784-805
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Documentation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • Behavioural model
  • Information-seeking
  • Naturalistic inquiry
  • Development
  • Coding practices
  • Qualitative code book
  • Modelling
  • Behaviour


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