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From Information to Knowledge Creation in the Archive: Observing Humanities Researchers' Information Activities

Leigh, A., Makri, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-5817-4893, Taylor, A. , Mulinder, A. & Hamdi, S. (2021). From Information to Knowledge Creation in the Archive: Observing Humanities Researchers' Information Activities. In: Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 84th Annual Meeting of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 30 Oct - 02 Nov 2021, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


As primary sources, archival records are a unique information source at the very heart of humanities research. However, how humanities researchers move from information to knowledge creation by making meaning from archival records has not been the focus of previous empirical research. This is surprising, as creating new knowledge through (re)interpretation of records is a core motivation and outcome of humanities research; as representations of historical and social occurrences, archival records rely on researchers’ interpretation of content, context, and structure to establish an ‘archival’ meaning of the record, before applying this meaning within their own work. Therefore, constructing knowledge from archival materials necessitates a dual process of knowledge creation to create novel insights from a hybrid interpretation of archival meaning and the researcher’s own interests. This paper presents findings from a naturalistic empirical observation of 11 humanities researchers engaging in research at a national archive, centring on key information activities that facilitate knowledge creation from archival records: Scanning, Relating, Capturing and Organising. Through these activities, scholars integrate their research aims and objectives with archival meaning to generate new insights. Deeper understanding of the nature of knowledge creation in archives can benefit archivists, archive users and systems designers alike.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Leigh, A., Makri, S. , Taylor, A., Mulinder, A. and Hamdi, S. (2021). From Information to Knowledge Creation in the Archive: Observing Humanities Researchers' Information Activities, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited. Author(s) retain copyright, but ASIS&T receives an exclusive publication license.
Publisher Keywords: Archives; Human Information Interaction; information use; knowledge creation
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals > CD921 Archives
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science
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