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ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012 

Accessibility and Management of Information Sources in Contexts: A Case Study Among Research Engineers
Noemie Musnik and Benoit Ricard

Monday, 6:30pm


Assuming that workplace significantly affects information seeking and information management patterns, this study explores accessibility and management of information sources among a group of research engineers. The study analyses how these engineers, who belong to the R&D entity of a major energy group, require, search and manage information sources in given professional contexts. Furthermore, it strives to identify the contextual factors that shape information practices. This empirical study is based on a qualitative approach: following exploratory inquiries, semi-structured interviews and observations were conducted with 15 actors in their proper workplace. Our integration within the team facilitated the participant observation stance. The study provides an analytic cartography of the various components of the organizational and informational environments whereby the activities and tasks of the above mentioned actors take place. A wide range of practices has been identified via interviews but also through the activities and work rhythms observed. An appreciative framework has been developed to analyze the practices of access to information produced and used in a professional context; it underlines the contextual factors that may become driving dimensions to support an innovative perspective on information management structures. The study attempts to provide an innovative approach for the analysis of information practices in contexts, oriented toward the design of a facetted and collaborative information management system.