Transdisciplinarity: an imperative for information behaviour research


  • Sarah Polkinghorne RMIT University
  • Paul Bowell Swinburne University of Technology
  • Lisa M. Given RMIT University



transdisciplinary research, information behaviour, qualitative methods, collaborative research


Introduction. Information behaviour research must be methodologically and conceptually sophisticated to generate knowledge reflecting the complexities of information engagement in people’s lives. Information behaviour research can be enriched by the concept of transdisciplinarity — a collaborative approach addressing complex societal problems, with actionable research outcomes.

Method. In-depth analysis traces the emergence of transdisciplinary research design. The paper then examines selected information science studies that possess strong transdisciplinary qualities, including those grounded in community-based approaches and centred on people’s experiences who have been marginalised by mainstream research. The paper then discusses opportunities for, and challenges to, increased transdisciplinarity in information behaviour.

Results. Information behaviour research is well positioned to embrace transdisciplinarity, although this approach has yet to see widespread uptake. Transdisciplinary approaches present information science, generally, with a timely, multifaceted opportunity to adopt research designs that centre community, government, and/or industry stakeholders, which aligns well with the practice-oriented, interdisciplinary nature of the field.

Conclusion. This paper brings a theoretical conceptualisation of transdisciplinarity in relation to information science, focusing primarily on information behaviour research. It expands on the importance of collaboration, innovation, and cross-disciplinarity, and proposes strategies for bridging information science research into more critical investigations of information activities in contemporary society.




How to Cite

Polkinghorne, S., Bowell, P., & Given, L. M. (2024). Transdisciplinarity: an imperative for information behaviour research. Information Research an International Electronic Journal, 29(2), 495–511.