Collaboration, Information Seeking, and Technology Use: A Critical Examination of Humanities Scholars’ Research Practices

  • Lisa M. GivenEmail author
  • Rebekah Willson
Part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work book series (CSCW)


Despite a rise in collaborative research, resulting in complex collaborative information seeking (CIS), few studies have explored the CIS experiences of academics in the humanities. This research explores the CIS activities of digital humanities scholars within the broader context of their collaborative research practices. Data from qualitative semi-structured interviews and guided interactions with digital tools are analysed using the conceptual lens of “parallel work” to best understand scholars’ engagement with CIS. The results demonstrate the complexities of research contexts and how CIS is shaped by individuals’ research needs, technology use and general information behaviours. The findings demonstrate how digital tools enable and constrain collaborative information work, and show how availability, ease of use, and other peoples’ activities often determine which tools and seeking practices are used in collaboration. Additionally, while scholars in the digital humanities work collaboratively, they continue to work as solo scholars, at times working quite independently within a collaborative project. Of particular note are results that show a lack of group-based information seeking practices within collaborative research practices. The model of Parallel Research Practice is proposed as a way to understand how digital humanities scholars engage in collaborative information activities.


Collaborative information use Research collaboration Parallel work Digital humanities 



The authors would like to thank the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding this project and to acknowledge the project’s co-investigators (Drs. Geoffrey Rockwell, Stanley Ruecker, Stéphan Sinclair, and Eleni Stroulia) and research assistant (Ali Grotkowski).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Information Studies and Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning & Education (RIPPLE)Charles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Information StudiesCharles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia

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