The Information Behaviour of Authors of Children's and Young Adult Literature

  • Jennifer Smith

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The study explored the information behaviour of authors of children's and young adult literature in both the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition, it sought to determine whether personality and cognitive styles had any influence on this behaviour. The contribution of this study to the research base is due to the focus on a group of creative professionals that has received little attention in the information seeking field and has so far been under-researched. The study followed a concurrent embedded qualitative dominant mixed methods research design. Instruments included in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 38 authors that took place in the natural work setting of these individuals, the BFI personality questionnaire, and the ASSIST learning styles questionnaire, modified to apply to the working lives of authors. Analysis of the qualitative interviews followed an inductive grounded theory approach with constant comparison and emerging codes while the quantitative results were analysed in SPSS with descriptive statistics and correlation analysis. Results from the quantitative elements demonstrated clear links between personality and cognitive styles and a significantly high openness to experience for this group of creative professionals. The qualitative data portrayed a group of authors with diverse and idiosyncratic needs. The combination of the two data sets showed relationships between all three elements, leading to the development of five information styles for authors and a model of information seeking for the group as a whole. Key recommendations to information providers include enhancing resource access for authors, developing programmes to assist them in learning more about library resources as well as subject matter related to their novels, and providing creative workspaces that would double as an “office” environment. Recommendations for publishing professionals involves setting up a network of experts for authors to utilise for information, as well as obtaining key information from the target audience. These recommendations could assist authors in the development of their works and provide them with easier access to the sources they deem valuable. Future research could examine a larger sample of authors, including those who write for adults. Doing so could highlight any differences in author groups and further enhance the findings of this study.
Date of Award28 Sept 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorAllen Foster (Supervisor) & David Ellis (Supervisor)

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